New online resource to make copyright law more accessible

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A new online resource aims to make copyright law more accessible for creators and the public, through sharing and presenting it in an engaging and easily understandable way.

Copyrightuser.org is an independent online resource that is meant for everyone who uses copyright works, such as small businesses and people working in the creative industries.

It has been developed by the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University and CREATe, a Research Councils UK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, based at the University of Glasgow.

The site uses user-friendly texts produced by leading academics, as well as compelling illustrations, motion graphics videos and video interviews with creators to provide the often complex information in a balanced and accessible way.

“Whilst copyright law is extremely relevant for those working in the creative industries it can also prove to be a very complex area to understand,” said Dr Dinusha Mendis, a founding member of Copyrightuser.org and Co-Director of CIPPM.

“This is particularly true for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as media professionals such as musicians, filmmakers, performers, writers, visual artists and interactive developers, amongst others.

“Our goal is to inform such creators and users of copyright about how to protect their work, how to license and exploit it, and how to legally re-use the work of others.”

Copyrightuser.org will also be updated regularly to reflect changes to UK copyright law, keeping users informed about what they can or cannot do under the current copyright legislation.

Its launch is timely in view of reforms to UK copyright law currently being discussed by the government and expected to come into law soon.

Proposed draft legislation for reforms to UK copyright law includes the introduction of new copyright exceptions, including parody and pastiche, orphan works where the copyright holder is uncontactable, text and data mining, and private copying.

Bartolomeo Meletti, lead producer of Copyrightuser.org, said: “Much of copyright is up to different interpretations with technology leading the debate and the law catching up on a case by case basis.

“Copyrightuser.org provides accurate and authoritative guidance on copyright law to help creators understand their rights.”

Copyrightuser.org was launched at the Arts and Humanity Research Council (AHRC) Creative Economy Showcase at Kings Place Conference Centre, in London.

Visit the site at www.copyrightuser.org

Amateur parody videos can make the originals more profitable, BU research finds

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Amateur parody videos on YouTube can lead to increased views and popularity for the original, Bournemouth University (BU) research has found.

The study looked at the economic effects of parody and how parody videos impacted on the original artists.

Parody videos take elements from an original song and often remix or re-imagine them for humorous or satirical effect.

It has been suggested that they infringe on the original artists’ copyright – exploiting too much of the original work and crowding it out of the market.

But the team from Bournemouth University found that artists could actually benefit from parody videos.

Lead researcher Dr Kris Erickson said: “The team found that the presence of parody was correlated with higher than average audiences for an original work. The effect was most noticeable for songs with lower pre-existing sales.

“In other words, up-and-coming artists may benefit most from having their work parodied on YouTube.”

The research was led by Dr. Erickson, Senior Lecturer in Media Regulation from the Media School, with Professor Martin Kretschmer and Dr. Dinusha Mendis from the Centre for Intellectual Property and Policy Management at BU.

Their team examined 343 hit pop songs using public data from the British Charts Company, before tracking the quantity of parodies on YouTube for each of the songs.

A total of 8,299 user-generated parody videos were discovered, with an average of 24 parodies available for each commercial music video on YouTube.

The sample was then further analysed to determine whether a large number of parodies for a track influenced either its retail sales or the number of views for the official version on YouTube.

Key findings included:

  • There is no evidence for economic harm to rightsholders through either substitution or reputational damage; the presence of parody content is correlated with larger audiences for original music videos.
  • The audience size for parody is smaller than the audience for originals; for most of the sample, the audience of all parody videos added together accounted for less than 1 per cent of the total YouTube audience for the original music video.
  • There exists a small but growing market for this type of online parody; parody videos in the study generated up to £2 million in revenue, a portion of which was shared with creators and rightsholders.

The research was commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office, the official government body responsible for granting Intellectual Property rights in the UK, and the findings have been used to propose a new copyright exception to allow parody.

Copyright law does not currently allow parody – even the amateur online variety – without the permission of the copyright owner.

But in December 2012, Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the Government’s plan to reform the Copyright regime in the UK, including a statutory exception for parody.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill began report stage in the House of Lords in February 2013. Dr Erickson said: “Enabling small producers to create and monetise parody on platforms such as YouTube may unlock millions of pounds of revenue for small producers and skilled amateurs.

“Furthermore, the research makes clear that building the digital creative capacity of young people in the UK via copyright exceptions will have longer-term effects on the competitiveness of the UK creative sector.”

To find out more about the research and the proposed parody exception visit http://cemp.ac.uk/parody/

BU Law lecturer talks about 3D printing on BBC Radio 5 Live

Dr Dinusha Mendis, Senior lecturer in law and co-director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at BU, was on BBC Radio 5 Live, talking about the challenges which will be faced by intellectual property (IP) laws in the wake of 3D printing.

Dinusha, who has recently published a paper on the issue, was featured on the Outriders programme – which is dedicated to exploring the frontiers of the web.

She told presenter Jamillah Knowles: “In a nutshell, my paper looks at the intellectual property implications of 3D printing, and whether we can learn lessons from the past.

“When I refer to the past, I am referring to the lessons we have learned from file-sharing services, such as Napster and Pirate Bay, and the challenges to intellectual property law – in particular copyright law – and the response to those challenges by the entertainment industry.

She added: “This paper suggests that, rather than focus on stringent IP laws, the future lies in adopting new business models to adapt to this new technology.”

Dinusha said that, while printers capable of printing 3D shapes and models are currently quite expensive, prices are constantly coming down.

“Past experience has shown us that law is constantly playing a catch up game with technology,” she said.

“This has been evident in the manner that intellectual property law, and in particular, copyright law, has struggled to keep up with internet and online activities.

“The present IP law that we have in the UK was not designed to keep up with such technologies, and regulating 3D printing will be no different.”

“So, while 3D printing is set to open doors to new businesses, new jobs and new experiences for consumers, it is also going to create a lot of challenges for IP right-holders and manufacturers of industrial products.”

She added that while work has started on looking at laws in this area, “there is still a long way to go.”

You can listen to a podcast of the Outriders programme that Dr Dinusha Mendis appears on here.