The NLA is delighted with the news earlier today that James Lancaster, former head of Rights and Business Affairs at the BBC has agreed to chair the Copyright Licensing Steering Group. The CLSG is the body that will oversee the work-streams leading from Richard Hooper and Ros Lynch’s aptly named Copyright Works report.
The NLA is one of a number of licensing agencies and publishers that is funding the development of the Copyright Hub during its first year, in order to get it off the ground. We were pleased to be able to organise a roundtable event earlier in November with Richard Hooper and Ros Lynch, the co-authors of the report, which addresses the practicalities of putting in place a creative industries funded hub.
It was an opportunity for copyright experts, collecting societies and specialist bloggers and journalists to get the inside track from Richard and Ros on the hub's development. It was a useful to review the opportunities and obstacles this project is bringing and I wanted to provide a summary below to those who couldn’t make it.
This doesn’t cover everything of course, but I hope the below gives you a flavour of the discussion.
A constructive approach
Richard Hooper has certainly learnt from the tough experience putting together the Royal Mail modernisation report. Rather than rushing to conclusions, Richard and Ros had a two stage process, beginning with a phase 1 diagnostic report which identified the problems and sparked debate rather than offering solutions. Having obtained feedback and identified the points of conflict, the phase two report was naturally considered and well received. This approach has certainly won respect - rather than antagonising creative industry stakeholders vital to the solutions – avoiding the mistake of some previous Government initiatives! As one participant pointed out, this could be a first!
How the hub will be progressed
Ros Lynch is now on secondment from the civil service and getting the Copyright Licensing Steering Group off the ground whilst Richard Hooper is putting together a Hub Launch Group with representatives from across the creative, tech and publishing industries. The aim is to get an ecosystem of interoperable, linked databases/services designed, funded and up and running as soon as is possible, with strong governance, clear vision and industry leadership.
It was also stressed that the hub doesn’t seek to replace existing initiatives, such as the Linked Content Coalition, but to facilitate transactions, for example through an overarching reference database that will ensure a complete a picture as possible is available for end users.
Where to start? Standards, Databases, incentives, content silos
I won’t try and cover the many opportunities and hurdles along the path to a successful hub, but will leave you instead with three points discussed in the meeting:
Firstly, it was noted that the technology available should be relatively straightforward and the team are keen to get input from developers and database specialists to build a prototype. A potentially harder job will be to align all the business interests of various stakeholders and ensure that the incentives are clear.
Secondly, there is a clear reason for the hub to focus on high volume / low transaction-cost copyright for example a broadcaster wanting a particular video clip.
Thirdly, this initiative gives a clear signal to government that the copyright and creative industries are serious about streamlining the process of obtaining rights – which will be good for creators and good for businesses that want to make use of their work.
Today’s announcement is another important step along the way.
Managing Director, NLA