1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Indiana Jones and the….. Obesity Calculator (!?)

"The state is warehousing IP…It's like locking up the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark" said John McVay (left), Chief executive for Pact, in an interview with new media age.

Apparently the Government is locking away up to £300m worth of intellectual property rights from digital content created by agencies and production companies for Government, local Government, NGOs and other public bodies. This content is being held under crown copyright, which prohibits it from being reused or re-licensed.

Pact, the production company trade body, has joined forces with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) to campaign to abolish this practice and is proposing a Digital Rights Framework for all publicly funded content which would enable digital content and software creators to retain and exploit their IP. A submission has been made to this effect to the Digital Britain report.

In theory this would allow greater opportunities for freelancers, agencies and productions companies to reuse work and could potentially stimulate a secondary rights market for this content. Pact believes that the successful overturn of the Government's position could be as significant for digital content as the Terms of Trade were in 2003 when they transformed the TV external supply sector by enabling Indies to use their rights to stimulate and grow that sector.

McVay is quoted by new media age as saying "in a digital world if you develop, say, an obesity calculator for the DoH, you could easily use this again, yet it goes under crown copyright." Not quite the Ark of the Covenant then, but anything that enables a more flexible licensing regime (and the additional revenue streams this may stimulate), prevents warehousing and which may ultimately encourage innovation must be a good thing.

Although one question that springs to mind is: if the public have paid for the content once, should there be strict guidelines in place which prevent any users or licensees of the content charging the public again?

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