Sunday 13 November 2011

11th Annual International Copyright Law 2011: antidote to pudding-thoughts

The 11th Annual International Copyright Law 2011, organised by IBC Conferences, takes place in three weeks time, from 6 to 7 December 2011, in Central London. This blogger has a soft spot for the event, in which he and Hugo Cox (also a member of the 1709 Blog team till he took a recent break from blogging) have spoken in the past, and in which a number of his friends are speaking this year.

A problem faced by conference organisers in many fields of law is that, when they seek to serialise a successful conference and put it on annually, they are giving a hostage to fortune to the gods of feast or famine. In some years there have been so many new developments, legislative initiatives and major judicial decisions that the two days allotted are scarcely adequate, while in other years it appears that there is little to report other than the rate at which the dust has settled on the previous year's novelties.  In recent years copyright has been kind to conference organisers, including IBC whose programme this is, by providing a constant fare of fascinating, challenging topics and rulings. No dust settles here.

It's not so many years ago that participants in this event were riveted by reports, analyses and speculations as to how The Pirate Bay and BitTorrenting would produce the ultimate showdown, a veritable High Noon with the recording industries. This topic has now gone remarkably quiet. Another copyright horror story, the Google Settlement, has shrunken from a top-billed topic to the fourth bullet-point in the US round-up presentation of the US Copyright Office General Counsel David O. Carson.

Some people make every
effort to outlive their
copyright term ...
Meanwhile, a number of "exes" have popped up. Extension of term for recordings and performers' rights looked dead in the water not so long ago, buried by the Gowers Review and evidence-based economic analysis -- but here it is, with a session to itself. Extension of artists' resale rights has clawed its way to prominence and a third "ex", "exhaustion" of rights and the (to Europeans) puzzling result of the US Supreme Court ruling in Costco. Other new topics include the consequences of the recent UK Meltwater litigation (is it really going to put the brake on browsing?), while current favourites which we can't ever get enough of are (i) how to handle rogue websites and (ii) practical solutions for resolving disputes.

This year's conference looks like being fun, with a great line-up of speakers under the expert chairmanship of Professor Adrian Sterling. Unfortunately I'll be unable to attend in person on account of clashing commitments, but this blog hopes to hear from some of its readers who are attending as to what gems of wisdom, what incisive analyses, what outrageous comments they have heard -- it w;; give is all plenty of food for thought before the end-of-year break makes puddings of our thought-processes ...

Full details of the conference programme and registration details are available here.

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