23 August 2012
UK Government IP Digital Copyright Hub - Industry should lead on new 'copyright hub' (Hooper Report)
In early August 2012 the UK Government published the final Hooper’s Report following extensive consultation with intermediaries, representative bodies, the legal and creative industry sectors.
It can be downloaded in the official BIS press release below. Before that here is a Creative Barcode comment / summary regards the report.
It is clear that a huge amount of work has been put into the consultation process and the report which has taken into consideration a myriad of needs and opinions from a diverse creative industries sector.
The report concludes with a recommendation that a hubs and spokes model registry should be established. It proposes that it will principally enable Creators representative bodies such as collection agencies, music and publishers associations and photo libraries to collaborate; determine some common licensing language and provide an easier means for consumers and businesses to identify a piece of work and understand who to contact to license it. Individuals are also likely to be able to register independently. Various user search functions will be incorporated along with sections for education and general information regards copyright licensing.
The report states that the ‘creative industries’ have agreed to run and fund an office for a further 12 months to continue the works and a collaborative launch group will be set up. It does not say which organisations from the creative industries will run and fund an office or how they will be selected.
Government appear to be taking an arm’s length approach and leaving strategy and funding to industry, although a later statement regards a role for Ofcom counter-proposed a government role be considered. Slightly confusing
The report lacked any in-depth examination of existing business models operating in the copyright aggregation, collection, and licensing and distribution space. It was therefore difficult to assess what works well and what could do with an overhaul. Creators and micro-businesses appeared to be represented through their trade associations. No independent opinions from Creators themselves or any statistical data or charts regard their satisfaction or concerns with existing systems appeared in the report.
A few new comers received a brief mention but no in-depth examination of what solutions new comers have brought to the digital copyright, identification, protection or licensing issues was covered. That is perhaps a missed opportunity given that the Appendix highlighted a number of organisations working on projects that identified problems seeking solutions. Some of those solutions could already exist in part or in whole but without a comparable analyse between established problems and new solutions already at market it becomes difficult to assess which models to build upon against potential start from scratch or heaven forbid, wheel reinvention.
Some organisations such as Linked Content Coalition have clearly made an impact, and supported by a European Funding bid, are in a good position to act as a synthesiser of existing systems and build a collaborative group of core players to work together to establish credible solutions. But they will need to factor in the new models as well as the established old guard models and the territorial and commercial interests which can sometimes impede innovative & holistic solutions.
Creators probably have greater independence today than they have ever had in context of selling their works direct to businesses and consumers. That could place established intermediaries under threat. However Creators prefer to focus on creating not administration and selling. If business models were fast, efficient and the income share fair and equitable, it should increase business for the intermediaries. Existing models that do not work fairly and effectively for Creators are the ones under-threat if better models emerge.
Meta Data issues and ownership data was mentioned in several places but not in such a way as to highlight it as the key issue to contend with. Yet in part, that is the crux of the issue for consumers and businesses seeking to use works. Who owns what, is it available to license and from whom.
In September / October 2012 Creative Barcode will be launching rights reserved and free use barcodes with embedded URL links to a Meta data page of ownership, licensing and contact details. Any user of a rights reserved barcode is giving a legal undertaking that they own the work to which it is applied. Meta fields are also incorporated to insert multiple owner s of mixed works, e.g. sound, graphics, music, illustration, photography.
However, whilst raised by more than one party, the report did not appear to address the Creators within the Creative Industries who are without doubt the most critical party. If Creators do not identify their works either through a formal registry or use of identifiers with embedded ownership Meta Data, the issues for consumers and businesses seeking to use works displayed online will not be eased.
A hub and spokes registry can only work effectively if Creators use an updateable identifier in online works with a link either to the registry; to themselves directly; to their appointed licensing agent or collection society.
Therefore a formal registry should have strong reason for Creators to log and identify their work in a quick, non-complex and low cost manner. And any work that is not registered nor carries an identifier would be harder to protect and track usage or enforce breach of use.
Individuals and businesses purchase url’s, renew them annually and update the Who Is registry to a new owner if the URL has changed hands. A Digital Copyright registry need not be any more complex.
Alongside the Rights Reserved barcode, Creative Barcode are introducing a ‘free use’ barcode to apply to works that only require a source credit but are otherwise free for anyone to use, re-use, re-mix. Free Use barcodes will of course be free to all Creators, worldwide. Again the application of a free use barcode is a legal undertaking by the Creator that the work is not owned by any other party and its use won’t be challenged.
UK Government might pump prime a collaborative group of industry players to develop a registry that is workable for Creators, their representatives and the consumers & businesses seeking to identify works for license. However, the point remains, an independent party needs to be in place to ensure solutions do not favour one party’s interests over another. The focus should be on the Creators to identify and register works alongside the ease of use for the consumers and businesses to license works direct from the Creator or through their appointed licensing agent of choice.
Technology and digital solutions can eradicate cost and complexity. Let’s hope they do.
BIS PRESS RELEASE
Hooper report: Industry should lead on new 'copyright hub'
The creative industries need to play a key role in leading and funding the Copyright Hub, a marketplace for rights to streamline copyright licensing and make transactions easier for creators, rights holders and users, according to an independent report published today by Richard Hooper.
The report, ‘Copyright works (4.31Mb)’, was Richard Hooper’s final report on the feasibility of developing a Digital Copyright Exchange. The report’s two key recommendations are for the creation of a not-for-profit industry-led, industry-funded Copyright Hub, and the establishment of a steering group to drive forward and oversee the design and implementation of the Hub.
The Copyright Hub will have five main purposes, to:
- act as a signpost and be a navigation mechanism to the complex world of copyright
- be the place to go for copyright education
- be the place where any copyright owner can choose to register works, the associated rights to those works, permitted uses and licences granted
- be the place for potential licensees to go for easy to use, transparent, low transaction cost copyright licensing
- be one of the authoritative places where prospective users of orphan works can go to demonstrate they have done proper, reasonable and due diligence searches for the owners of those works before they digitise them
Richard Hooper said:
"If the UK is to maintain and improve its position as world leader in the creative industries then it needs an efficient and responsive system to manage the use of creative rights.
"Setting up an industry led and industry-funded Copyright Hub will help maximise the potential for creators and rights owners on the supply side and the wide range of licensees and users on the demand side.
"Creating a single marketplace for copyright licensing would not only reduce the costs of licensing and simplify a complex system that can be difficult to navigate but would also bring together key players to have a more effective exchange and use of rights. This will only help boost economic growth, ensuring that both the industry and consumers are making the most of the UK’s creativity."
Welcoming the report, Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"The idea of a 'copyright hub' is an ambitious undertaking and one that could clearly yield great benefits for the UK's creative industries and consumers. It is potentially a ground-breaking step forward that will help make copyright licensing fit for 21st century.
"Richard Hooper has put forward a detailed and thoughtful report, with recommendations for industry and the Government. We will support the further work he recommends and, working alongside the industry, look forward to building the long term consensus to deliver this vision."
The recommendation to facilitate an industry-led Digital Copyright Exchange came from Professor Hargreaves’ review of intellectual property and growth, published in May 2011. Business Secretary, Vince Cable, asked Richard Hooper to undertake a detailed analysis of whether and how such an idea might work.
Notes to Editors
- Richard Hooper was appointed by the Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable to lead an independent feasibility study on creating a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) on 22 November 2011.
- Richard was Deputy Chairman of OFCOM between 2002 and 2005 and was Chairman of the independent review of the Postal Services Sector. He stood down as Chairman of Informa plc in May 2007 after 10 years on its Board. He is currently Senior Independently Director at YELL group plc and at VocaLink Holding Ltd. He was Chairman of the Radio Authority for three years until 2003.
- Today’s report is based on evidence collected over a period of eight months from December 2011 to July 2012. For further information about the report please e-mail HooperSecretariat@ipo.gov.uk.
- In Phase one, evidence was collected through 90 face to face meetings with individuals, collecting societies, record labels, trade associations, lobby groups and others from across the creative industries, and this was supplemented with 117 responses to the Call for Evidence issued on 4 January 2012.
- Phase two of the feasibility study began in April 2012 and focused on developing solutions to the problems identified in the first phase, including a DCE. The recommendation for a DCE was put forward by Professor Ian Hargreaves in his report 'Digital Opportunity: a Review of Intellectual Property and Growth'. Phase two involved face to face meetings with 70 organisations and a stakeholder meeting for 100 people.
- The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
- The IPO's role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.
- The IPO operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to Intellectual Property (IP) to which the United Kingdom is a party.
- For media queries, please contact Veena Mapara on 0207 215 5614.
- For emergency media calls out-of-hours please contact the duty press officer at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on +44 (0) 207 215 3505.
Creative Barcode / Intellectual Property Office