Bronac's post points to important developments, their background and what the likely outcomes in the near to medium term are to be in respect of copyright law. I am sure the AHRC's call will have a good response, as the time is ripe.

At the University of Edinburgh there is already a centre doing some significant work in this area, SCRiPT:
The Arts and Humanities Research Council Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Aside from considering copyright and ownership in the digital economy it is also looking at the legal and ethical implications of implantable technologies and other developments in bio-technology. Questions such as whose mind is it when we have a chip implanted in our brain running proprietary software are being considered. These are issues that need to be addressed now as the technologies to do this are present. There have already been some difficult legal cases in the UK, Holland and elsewhere.

The Hargreaves report is part of the landscape for this debate, but not unproblematic. The recommendations concerning orphan works and parody of brands are generally welcome but the proposal to establish a London trading floor in intellectual property, so that speculators can trade it as shares and futures, to generate resources for their development, sounds like the free-market gone mad - especially at this juncture in time. I hope that proposal never sees the light of day but I fear it will.



On 30 Oct 2011, at 23:19, Bronac Ferran wrote:

> Dear All and especially Jeremy
> I am sorry not to have been more prominent in contributing to these
> interesting discussions this month.
> As commented to Armin off-list yesterday - apologising for not
> responding to his prompt - one of the things on the horizon that may
> offer some scope at least in the UK for picking up some of the threads
> from previous practice-to-policy interventions is the imminent
> development of a new ''centre for copyright and new business models' -
> which will be awarded to an academic institution (or consortium)
> sometime in early 2012. The call for bids went out earlier this year
> and is now at shortlisted stages.
> What this may offer is scope to pursue (as case studies) examples of
> shifting practices relating to law and media culture .....I guess
> there may also be scope to do some longitudinal work which may be part
> of what Armin has described as an under-theorised terrain.
> I'd draw people's attention to the preservation online of material
> from the 2001 CODE conference which was a pretty interesting event
> relevant to much of which has been discussed here :
> There was an important and informative background essay by Michael
> Century which we commissioned him t write in autumn 1999 having been
> provoked in particular by that year's Ars Electronica conference which
> dealt with life sciences and GM food and ownership of the basis of
> life.  A shared focus across disciplines on the importance of holding
> some things protected and open 'in common' was a primary motivation
> behind doing the 2001 event - a concern which for me remains
> absolutely critical today (whether code or the water we drink or the
> notation we use to dance or the letters we use to write).  Michael's
> paper seems to have disappeared from the site but I have copies so
> could scan if anyone s interested.
> The other strand I wanted to mention is the Hargreaves Review which
> hasn't been much discussed on this list but which has been a major
> factor in terms of UK policy on copyright during this year.  For those
> unaware there has been a major review of copyright during 2011
> recommendations from which promise to be implemented unlike a previous
> review three-four years ago which led to similar conclusions but which
> were never fully endorsed by parliament. In short the recommendations
> propose regulation of collecting societies, release of so-called
> orphan works into the public domain and also the introduction of
> certain exceptions including for research purposes which will allow
> people to 'format shift' without running the risk of legal action.
> and exceptions for the purposes of parody are also being endorsed.
> There is also renewed interest in design rights (and subsidiary
> consultations are being held on these). For anyone interested here is
> a sample of the text of the report:
> .....In the UK, exceptions have failed to keep up with technological
> and social change, leading
> to widespread consequences.  Technology has expanded the potential for
> communication, research,
> learning and access to resources, but out of date rules mean this
> potential is not fully realised.  The
> UK’s world class universities – a sector of strategic importance to
> future growth, both as source of
> skilled people and knowledge – find this on a daily basis.
> 5.3 Researchers want to use every technological tool available, and
> they want to develop new
> ones.  However, the law can block valuable new technologies, like text
> and data mining, simply
> because those technologies were not imagined when the law was formed.
> In teaching, the greatly
> expanded scope of what is possible is often unnecessarily limited by
> uncertainty about what is legal.
> Many university academics – along with teachers elsewhere in the
> education sector – are uncertain
> what copyright permits for themselves and their students.
> Administrators spend substantial sums
> of public money to entitle academics and research students to access
> works which have often been
> produced at public expense by academics and research students in the
> first place.  Even where
> there are copyright exceptions established by law, administrators are
> often forced to prevent staff
> and students exercising them, because of restrictive contracts.
> Senior figures and institutions in the
> university sector have told the Review of the urgent need reform
> copyright to realise opportunities, and
> to make it clear what researchers and educators are allowed to do.......
> and you can read more at:
> my own response (for what it's worth) at:
> and I also went to a few meetings convened by the Consumer Focus who
> played a good hand prior to the review in tandem with some key public
> sector organisations such as the BFI and British Library in tandem
> with Google (!) in writing a joint letter arguing for the exceptions
> which were in the end secured, above. You can read more about the
> Consumer Focus position at:
> All best
> Bronac
> On 30 October 2011 22:35, Jeremy Pilcher <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> It's already very nearly the end of the month! Before the end of October arrives there are some earlier comments to which I would like to make a brief return.
>> The discussion has raised many significant issues. It seems simplest to start by going to the recent post by Rene, which she concludes by saying “I do agree that we should investigate alternative business models and that locking works up in media that artificially prevent reproduction is not a valid road.”
>> Businesses that provide exemplary cases of licensing images are stock photography agencies, such as Getty Images. Such companies do not trade in the physical images,  but rather the rights to reproduce them by licensing specific uses of the images. Doireann Wallace gave an excellent paper on this at the Computers and History of Art (CHArt) conference back in 2007 (‘Designing the Electronic Archive: Archive Fever and the Archival Economy of “Getty Images Online” Operations’).
>> Getty Images and other stock agencies employ digital watermarks to control and capitalise on the visual content in their databases. As Wallace pointed out this method, as with other interactive experiences designed by Getty Images to generate demand for their holdings, is as much a part of the internet as other practices that explore the potential of the cultural commons.
>> It seems to me that a key point was made earlier in the month by Fred Poyner, when he commented that collecting institutions “must try to find a balance between cases of conditional donations, with an ideal of making all collections available to the public”. I return at this point to one of the questions set out at the start of the month: “In what respects do the interests of commercial organisations such as Google, which exist for the purpose of making profit, differ from those of artists, museums and galleries and in what ways should the law respond to any such differences?”
>> It has been argued that corporations exist, and should only exist, for the purpose of making profit. Yet, even amongst those who consider that corporations should have broader social responsibilities, there is disagreement as to what those should be. Assuming for the moment (and I realise that it is a big assumption) that copyright is an integral part of the existing overarching capitalist model, there is currently little motivation for businesses to find alternatives to the recognition of intellectual property .
>> By contrast it is generally accepted that public museums and galleries have a much wider social remit than returning a profit. At the same time, they(and those employed by them) are inextricably bound into the profit-seeking, private sector. Under the current system, it seems to me one question for public institutions is: “what, and how, is a balance to be struck between making money and making a collection accessible?”
>> As regards the copyright regimes on which licensing is predicated, there are many who would echo Rob Myers’ view, when he wrote “I don’t think that copyright should be different for NMA [New Media Art], I think it should be greatly reduced in scope generally”. Yet, even if the type of work and the number of years such work is protected are reduced, this still leaves the difficulty of “what fixed in a tangible form of expression means” (to quote Rob again).
>> As Henry Lydiate commented “it’s that hoary old IP chestnut: the idea/expression dichotomy [...]The fixation rule is legislators’ best attempt to date to avoid ephemeral/transient acts of creativity [...] being automatically IP protected.” Yet, it is the uncertainty regarding this area that is one of the aspects which makes simply the threat of legal proceedings based on copyright such a potent means of inhibiting any given example of  art work (which a court wouldn't necessarily agree infringed copyright) created using range of cultural practices . Moreover, different countries have different laws, despite efforts to achieve international harmonisation. All of which, it seems from the posts to this list,  create as many difficulties from within, as much as from without, the so-called ‘art world’.
>> Cheers
>> Jeremy

Simon Biggs
[log in to unmask]  @SimonBiggsUK  skype: simonbiggsuk

[log in to unmask]  Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh