Monday 4 October 2010

CLA open meeting 1: How International Content Creates Value

Lawyer and blogger Rebecca Dimaridis, who attended last Wednesday afternoon's Open Meeting, hosted by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) at The Royal Geographical Society in Kensington, London, has kindly sent us this very full report on the event.  Part 1 appears below; Part 2 will follow tomorrow.
After a warm welcome by Kevin Fitzgerald, the Chief Executive of the CLA, who wrote an article on the new website "Copyright in the Digital Age" the agenda was split into two sessions. The first session discussed "How International Content Creates Value", the second session being "Intellectual Property Will Save the British Economy".

The first session kicked off with CLA's International Manager Madeleine Pow, who explained that CLA has reciprocal agreements with overseas Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs), and showed us a neat flowchart showing how the CLA distributes money taken on behalf of rights holders through their RROs. Through these agreements, Madeleine said, overseas repertoire included in CLA licences generates value. Further information, including the types of agreements can be found on this page of the CLA website.

Emma House, the International Director for The Publishers Association, the next speaker, said that these agreements benefit UK publishers. Emma mentioned that international repetoire included in licences in the book publishing industry as a whole brought £22 million to the British economy and that in 2009 Britain was the largest exporter in the industry with £1.2 billion worth of books exported from the UK. Therefore much-needed protection is being provided such as through anti-piracy campaigns. Emma says that the CLA licensing system, if controlled and policed properly, provides income for activity that is already happening illegally. Also, an added benefit of the RROs collecting money is that an RRO can collect money coming through in very small amounts whereas a publisher can't collect such small amounts (or may be unwilling to do so).

Emma continued to praise the CLA agreements because they bring cultural benefits to the UK, i.e. providing access to UK content will contribute to the education and development of a society, contribute to a good cultural exchange cross borders and provide good lobbying messages.

Comments were then invited from the panel of CLA licensees, to describe how their licences are used in practice. On the panel was Philip Ditchfield of Glaxo Smith Kline PLC (GSK); Vanessa Marsland of Clifford Chance LLP (CC); Dr Jane Secker of The London School of Economics (LSE); Emma House of The Publishers Association (TPA) and Georgina Bentliff of the CLA.

Philip Ditchfield explained that GSK's business is built on IP. GSK subscribes to 1000s of journals via direct licences with publishers, and buys articles from a number of sources such as the British Library. GSK relies on blanket licences in the subscriptions. Philip mentioned that although GSK is a global company, they see themselves as one entity, with lots of people working together across the globe. So it's important that GSK has the same rights for all colleagues for example, a colleague in one country can copy something that a colleague in another country cannot and this is ridiculous. Philip wants a multinational licence that is easy to understand, user-friendly, up-to-date, comprehensive and includes all publishers (big and small) and all countries. What a fantastic wish list!

Vanessa Marsland said CC have a similar setup to GSK and that they are also a global organisation with direct publisher licences. Vanessa agreed that licensing needs need to be adminstered on a multinational basis, because sometimes information may be needed that wouldn't be covered within the mainstream direct licences. CC has some experience of country differences and says that this is an issue "when all we have to sell is our time" (!)

Dr. Secker was next to speak, and said that the LSE is an international university, with 50% of students coming from another country. The services are provided on campus, so the LSE is not looking to deliver content to students overseas. What she found  very helpful to students (who need to read a lot during times of the year) was multiple copies of books and electronic journal subscriptions. Dr. Secker mentioned that a "paper coursepack service", provided under a CLA blanket licence was also very useful, as is the electronic coursepack service (which used to be provided on a transactional basis for key courses making the costs associated with that service huge). Dr Secker is thus very pleased to have a blanket licence now to cover the LSE's e-learning system.

Kevin Fitzgerald, moderating the panelist discussion, asked the audience about whether they have any questions as to the current licences operate. Kevin noted Philip Ditchfield's comment that they need to be easy to understand and wondered if the audience felt the same way. An audience member from the University of Buckingham said that in addition to wanting the licences to be easy to understand, they wanted them to be easy to administer. At present, there is so much administration involved, for example, in providing the number of pages to be digitised, the number of students on the course and a whole host of other administration. The comment was answered by Georgina Bentliff who said that they do need to know what is copied and the other information; however, if there are ways to simplify and improve the technology in the future in order to make the administrative side of things easier, then the CLA will do so.

Philip Ditchfield then commented that the CLA licence is difficult to understand. Although there is an explanatory document that goes with the licence and there is now a third licence, ultimately a document is needed that is able to be explained across the whole of the business, so as to ensure all at GSK understand it.

Kevin then asked about future licence developments. Emma House said that in an increasingly digital world, publishers are adapting to different business models. The landscape is changing and more going global. She has found that publishers are willing to work with the CLA to satisfy the needs of rights holders and licensees. Georgina Bentliff commented that she can report that rightsholders have approved multinational licences. From a digital point of view, the licence is an opt-in licence and covers copying and scanning. The Publishers Association has started getting Opt-In licences drafted, and the plan is for them to be available in January.

Kevin then asked the audience whether there were any comments on multinational licences. A comment from University College London was that there are areas where the CLA can't offer coverage, as there was a lack of RRO's available in countries of interest. UCL wants to start a dialogue in those countries so that the licence is truly global. Plus UCL would like to see the licence being available in countries other than English. This is a huge issue for UCL.

Georgina Bentliff responded to say that the CLA can only deal with countries in which there exists an organisation that can represent its rights holders. RRO countries signed up are those with such representation, and the CLA does what it can to support the development of new RROs. including acting as mentor and providing advice.

After a comment by Emma House about countries in the Middle East, Kevin noted that he is aware of a number of difficulties for Central and Eastern European countries but that there were discussions with the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) regarding this. Since the meeting, I found a page entitled "IFRRO Development Committee for Africa and the Middle East" on the IFRRO website which has details about the Mandate for that Committee.

Kevin's next panel question was what use the CLA licence is put to in the licencees' organisation, and whether there were any difficulties with what the organisation should be doing with it or in getting colleagues to do the right thing with it? Finally, whether the licencee's want the CLA to do anything about these issues.

Dr. Secker said the LSE had no problem with knowing what to do and that generally, the guidance she gives is that website content should be linked to and not copied. Vanessa mentioned there were some odd questions that would sometimes crop up, such as whether information can be included in a prospectus, but that while there was massive use of websites, website content is mainly used to read and keep a copy for the file. Philip mentioned GSK generally needs to sign three requests for information. If authorisation is not given by the third request GSK doesn't bother. This is a shame and GSK hopes the process of authorisation will be simplified in the future.

A audience comment from a representative of Loghborough university then came in to say that the CLA is "barking up the wrong tree" and that there are only very minor problems in accessing material through websites and that generally material is available. If there is a barrier, then material could be found somewhere else, or the search for it be abandoned. According to the audience member, the CLA shouldn't be wasting its efforts on RRO's. Georgina's response was, as you might expect, that the CLA did a lot of surveys in sectors and the impression they got was that people would like to have these licences and that liking to have was different to there being a problem.

The next question Kevin put was how to define the amount of a website which could be "copy-able". First to comment was Chief Executive of Future Publishing Stevie Spring. Stevie said that so far, the only person making any sense was the person fron Loughborough university, and that she thinks the licences are a waste of time and will complicate things. Stevie noted that CLA licences are not primary licences but merely licences for secondary use and for a limited amount.

The discussion swivelled around to Georgina talking about the CLA's Schools licence, which launched on Friday 1 October, which would allow for the photocopy, scan and re-use of material. Such use could be made of one article or chapter or up to 5% of material - I think the actual amount is still to be determined. There is little additional information about these licences available on the CLA website; however, the appropriate link is here.

The first session ended with Kevin asking the panel to list "Fantasy website" links which he would like to see incorporated into the licence. Dr. Secker would like to see Disney while Philip wants Wikipedia, The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers and CC and Emma House preferred not to comment.

1 comment:

Gary Spokes said...

Having attended the open meeting I have to say this is both of Rebecca’s blogs captured it perfectly.

Having read the speakers comments again, I am left with the underwhelming impression that the CLA will never grasp the nettle of making it easier for companies to ‘do the right thing’. Staff inhabit in a world where private use of information on the web is not translated in any way to business use. They require simple steps to follow and those charged with copyright compliance a simple and pragmatic licence. Grandiose plans for an international CLA licence with additional layers of complexities fills me with dread.