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Copyright And Technology 2012 Conference

June 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday saw the first UK edition of this annual conference, which took place in London’s Kings Fund venue. The full day conference featured panels and expert speakers on that most interesting, challenging and potentially lucrative junction of copyright, content and technology. And, another buzzword for the ‘social’ melting pot – Social DRM!

Copyright And Technology Conference Word Cloud

Copyright And Technology Conference Word Cloud

The event format involved the usual keynotes and plenary sessions, during the morning segment, and a split into two streams, (covering technology and legal aspects), in the afternoon. My key take-aways include:

  1. User education on copyright content infringement is far too one-sided. According to expert copyright lawyer, Andrew Bridges, potential infringers / fans need ‘credible teachers’ with a more balanced agenda
  2. Traditional Hollywood release window is under threat (from user demand for content, here and now!)
  3. Piracy data collection / analysis are increasingly used by big content owners (e.g. Warner Bros and Harper Collins) to identify potential demand for specific content, via pirate channels. An interesting question by conference chair, Bill Rosenblatt, was whether content providers saw any potential for combining piracy data collection/analysis with social media buzz analysis, in order perhaps to help identify new market opportunities, remained mostly unanswered
  4. Media monitoring organisations can collect and analyse, (with consumers’ permission), actual usage data from user computers. According to the speaker from Warner Bros, their research apparently confirms claims that HADOPI has had an impact, with a recent decline in Peer-to-Peer file-sharing, in France.
  5. According to MarkMonitor, a high proportion of pirated ebook content are in the PDF format, which some think may be a result of easy portability between devices. Also, according to Harper Collins speaker, key motivational factors for ebook piracy include: Pricing, DRM and territorial restrictions.
  6. In the Technology stream, the panel on content identification (e.g. via fingerprinting vs. session based watermarking) discussed creation of content aware ecosystems using Automatic Content Recognition
  7. The term ‘Social DRM’ (a buzzword if I ever heard one) is the use of user information to uniquely identify digital content (and to potentially name and shame file sharers), as described by CEO of Icontact. One attendee grilled the presenter about ways and means to crack it! Apparently, the term Social DRM was coined by Bill McCoy at Adobe (now at IDPF), and is really just watermarking content with personally identifiable information
  8. Bill Rosenblatt described LCP (Lightweight Content Protection) for ePub as being somewhere in the middle of the content protection continuum (i.e. between no DRM and very strong DRM). Also, he observed that thepublishing industry stance on DRM is still in flux, and that genres such as (sci-fi, romance, IT) were mainly going DRM-free, whilst other e.g. higher education still used strong DRM to protect content
  9. Finally, my technology stream panel session on Security Challenges of Multi-Platform Content Distribution saw key contributions from experts, with multiple perspectives, from: a Security Consultant (Farncombe), DRM Provider (Nagra), Business PoV (Castlabs) and Content Provider / Owner (Sony Picture Entertainment).

Overall, this was a very good first outing for the Copyright and Technology conference in London. The co- organisers, GiantSteps and MusicAlly, did a great job to pull it off, despite disappointment (by last minute cancellation of a keynote) from the HADOPI Secretary General). I would certainly encourage anyone interested in the opportunities and challenges of content, technology and copyright to attend this conference in future. And yes, Social DRM is my new buzzword of the month!

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A Chat with Hargreaves

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat with Professor Hargreaves, mainly about the aftermath of his IP Review / recommendations, including proposals for a Digital Copyright Exchange, as well as his thoughts on how best to leverage the UK’s amazing Creative Economy. It certainly provided plenty of food for thought.

Our conversation took place at NESTA’s head office, where Hargreaves is a Research Fellow and can be found working, at least once a week, with colleagues on further research activities. This, in addition to his Chair at Cardiff Business School, keeps him pretty busy, and so I came prepared with three key topics / questions around which the conversation revolved, as follows:

Q1. What’s really happening with implementation of the IP Review recommendations?

Following the successful publication of the IP Review Report, plus subsequent adoption and support by Government, various pre-legislative activities / initiatives have been set in motion to help provide more detail around the definitive steps to be taken in order to implement the recommendations.

Q2. What about the Digital Copyright Exchange?

A feasibility study, led by Richard Hooper, is currently in progress and will help to determine the realistic potential for creating a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) capability. They recently concluded the diagnostic first phase of the study and published a report which more or less confirms, among other things, the existence of a real problem. The next phase, which started back in April is focused on identifying potential DCE solutions that can be used to address the identified issues .

Q3. What is really driving the Digital / Creative Economy?

Several things will have an impact on the digital economy, and various trends exist that will ultimately help to shape the creative economy both in the UK and abroad, including:

  • Some of the larger creative industry players are becoming more pro opportunities, as opposed to being largely focused on anti-piracy.
  • There exists a tension between global vs. nationalistic views of the Internet. However, the Internet is really a global platform, with varying levels of access / applicability, and most people will just have to learn to live with “the internet”, as well as increased transparency and the acceleration of technology-led change. E.g. HD video will eventually become as fast and easy to transfer as music or text, due to increasing bandwidth and processing power.
  • There are many opportunities for the UK creative economy, but first we’ll need to find more effective ways of measuring the real value of the creative industry. For example, one of the 13 identified creative economy sub-sectors (i.e. Craft) was reported somewhere as having zero-to-minimal economic value, despite employing some 0.4 percent of the UK’s working population. Such constraints must be overcome in order to appreciate the real impact of the digital/creative economy

These points (as well as other observations / anecdotes / insight) made this a great way to spend 45 minutes, and a key takeaway for me was that UK’s creative economy is in great shape (when compared to the rest of the world), but there is no room for complacency, and an urgent need to figure out how to take full advantage of the digital opportunities for the benefit of an increasingly critical creative economy. To do this properly, it will be absolutely necessary to achieve a proper / better understanding of the real value (not just monetary) of creativity to the UK / global economy.

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Copyright & Technology: For info: I’ll be chairing a panel at the Copyright & Technology 2012 conference which is taking place in London on Tuesday 19th of June. The topic is: Content Security Challenges in Multi-Platform Distribution, and it should provide some good insights from the panel of experts. Do register and attend, if you can make it, else I will be covering highlights of the event right here on this blog, as well as on Twitter (just follow me via @judeumeh and/or the conference hashtag: #ctlondon201