Tuesday 23 April 2013

Hooper's plea for better data

Richard Hooper CBE
Richard Hooper, tasked with creating the UK's Copyright Hub and the Digital  Rights Exchange has said the first phase of the licensing platform will launch in July. Hooper told an audience at the London Book Fair that the Hub is in "phase one" of its development, mainly raising awareness of its existence. It's only by "phase three" that people will be able to buy low value rights (perhaps music for a wedding video, or photographs for a small businesses's website) to use copyrighted material, seemingly via third-party websites.

It seems the Copyright Hub will be a place where websites connect to encourage and welcome rights holders to register their rights,licences and permissions. According to Hooper, the Hub will be the portal users go to in the UK to find their way ‘through the maze of copyright’s complexity’. Stemming from Professor Ian Hargreaves 2011 Review of IP in the United Kingdom, The new Hub is being developed by four creative industries – music, publishing, audiovisual and images – under Hooper’s chairmanship. Hooper said style and feel of the Hub is ‘voluntary, opt-in, non exclusive, pro-competitive’, but warned the audience that simplifying copyright licensing is not a short-term task, but ‘a permanent, never-ending requirement of the copyright creative industries as new technology continues to disrupt the established order.’ All businesses and all collecting societies will require ‘eternal vigilance, leading to new strategies and excellent execution of those strategies’ Hooper said.

Giving the Charles Clark Memorial Lecture, Hooper also made the point that the copyright industries need to "get their houses in order" before any kind of Exchange can work and that content owners needed to start labelling and indexing their work accurately and clearly. As an example, Hooper was concerned that the BBC were ignoring two standards of broadcast material metadata and also pointed to failures in the book, music and movie industries have, even where global systems like the International Standard Book Number (ISBN),  in place meaning that on the digital age it is still it not possible to identify and tag individual paragraphs, equations, gene sequences and so on in a text meaning that the original author could be traced from a single extract. Many in the music industry might say the same about samples of sound recordings - surely in 2013 it should be quite simple to embed information in a sound recording so when even a part is used both the user and the owner of the original recording knows who has been sampled.  Indeed The Register reported that Hooper said that "everybody from the BBC to The Sun" is stripping metadata from creative works, and likened it to the tearing of ISBN codes from printed tomes adding that "improving the state of data will enable the multi-media and borderless nature of modern creativity to truly prosper". 

 Hooper also made it clear that the new Hub will not the place for low-volume high-value deals - such as a licence for Premier League football or to develop a blockbuster movie service, and the Register adds "You almost certainly won't be able to launch a music service using licences obtained through the Exchange".

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