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    Solutions for Adapting to Copyright in the Technology Age


    International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2009

    The evolution of the Internet and digital technology has created an open market for the distribution and sharing of intellectual properties. But in the fast-paced and ever-changing world of the digital age, how can those who work in the creative industries protect their intellectual property?

    The protection of intellectual property rights has become one of the most difficult challenges for creative industries, affecting governments, artists, creators, analysts and agencies alike. The most significant challenge is how legal and policy frameworks can keep up with the fast-paced and constantly evolving digital world. Technology changes quickly and with it come new innovations that on the one hand help the creative industries, but on the other create a myriad of social and legal barriers to the effective use and protection of their outputs.

    In todays world, the pace of technological change has created a situation where it is often not possible to do the very things that technology now makes so simple and inexpensive. The Internet, and especially the ongoing development of the digital social web, makes the mismatch between what is possible and what is allowed obvious. Sharing files? Thats illegal according to international copyright law. Mixing or mashing music, text or video is also usually illegal. Posting excerpts from a website or blog is still illegal in most cases. Of course,
    these "infringements" are still happening, but it is difficult to build legitimate, sustainable practices or business models when every participant is potentially a criminal in the eyes of the law.

    Creative Commons licences: A fast growing movement

    While copyright remains the fundamental guarantor of the rights of authorship, the Creative Commons movement is a fast-growing area of interest in the protection of intellectual property rights for artists, creators and educators. Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit corp-oration dedicated to making it easier to share creative works within the rules of copyright. Through providing free licences and other tools, CC provides a mechanism for creators to embrace the capacities of the Internet to collaborate virtually, and expand access to information and opportunities. CC licences are not an alternative to copyright but are a permissive tool for facilitating the release and waiver of rights, primarily for works of low immediate commercial value.

    CC licences (see box) were created in collaboration with intellectual property experts around the world to ensure that the licences work globally, and are composed of a combination of four basic choices. There are already more than 250 million CC-licensed items on the Internet, created by artists, authors, musicians, scientists, artisans, educators and anyone else to share their work, build their reputation and increase the impact of their efforts. Among the better-known institutions and groups using CC licences around the world are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for its Open CourseWare Initiative, Al Jazeera for their Creative Commons video repository, Google for search and discovery, and even the White House in the United States for all public communications channels.  

    Creative Commons: Types of basic licences

    Allows others to copy, distribute, display, perform and remix copyrighted work, as long as they give credit in the way requested.

    Allows others to copy, distribute, display, perform and remix work for non-commercial purposes only. If they want to use the work for commercial purposes, they must contact the creator for permission.

    Allows others to create remixes and derivative works based on creative work, as long as they only distribute them under the same CC license as the original work was published.

    Allows others to copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work - not make derivative works based on it. If they want to alter, transform, build upon or remix the work, they must contact the creator for permission.

    Paving the way for educational materials

    For educators, CC's legal infrastructure gives flexibility to the creator, protects users and makes collaboration easier as they don't have to worry about copyright infringement as long as they abide by the terms of use. For learners, openly licensed materials provide access to a wealth of knowledge and opportunities to learn in new ways. CCLearn, the education division of Creative Commons, works to reduce or eliminate the legal, technical and social barriers to the growth of educational materials, generally referred to as open educational resources (OER).

    The impact of OER for intellectual exchange among faculty, improved educational access for students and opportunities for collaboration is already significant. For example, the OpenCourseWare Consortium consists of over 150 member institutions all over the world. Similarly, regional initiatives, such as the South African Siyavula Project, are transforming the educational landscape at a local level. According to the Siyavula website, "Open licences enhance innovation and lighten the load on individual teachers and result in localised, content-specific materials that are immediately useful to teachers."

    The Open Database of Education Projects and Organizations has a partial list of projects and organizations involved with OER. This database is one of several community-engaged projects resident on the global open education community site, called OpenEd, hosted by CCLearn. The open education movement, like the use of CC licensing in many different domains and industries, is only just beginning.

    The architecture of the Internet has flattened the information landscape and opened opportunities for innovation by anyone with access, especially in the developing world and in emerging markets. CC licences ensure that these new opportunities built on the open web enable broad, international participation without risk of legal complications, but allowing creators to retain fundamental rights to their own work.

    New Tools for the Digital Age

    Creative Commons has recently enabled new tools specifically geared to making the most of the Internet without compromising copyright including:

    Search by Creative Commons
    A search website installed as a default directory on the Firefox browser that allows visitors to search for content that can be used for commercial purposes and that can be modified, adapted and built upon. Visit http://search.creativecommons.org/

    A database of user-generated video content
    with a focus on content creators making "shows" or "serialized content". Blip.tv currently distributes 2.4 million episodes produced by more than 48,000 independently produced web shows to audiences of 22 million people. Visit - http://blip.tv/

    Owl Music Search
    Owl allows users to search for music by uploading sound files and searching the database for songs that are similar. Owl has indexed more than 98,980 songs from commercial and independent song catalogues, including the music sites ccMixter, Magnatune
    and Jamendo. www.owlmusicsearch.com/

    A community site which encourages users to collaborate through sharing video and other large files. Visit http://spinxpress.com/

    For more information about Creative Commons visitwww.creativecommons.org  

    From Artist to Audience

    Collective management of copyright

    "How is it possible to ensure that an individual musician is remunerated each time his song is played on the radio? Or a writer whenever his play is performed? How can copyright and related rights of such creators be managed efficiently so as to enable them to concentrate on their creative activity while receiving the economic reward due to them?"

    From Artist to Audience, a booklet produced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in conjunction with the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations, aims to answer some of these questions within the context of copyright and related rights system works through the collective management of rights.

    From Artist to Audience (Publication No.922) is available in PDF in English or French on the WIPO free publications website:www.wipo.int/freepublications/en/