Thursday 30 July 2015

Of catapults and caterpillars: hubbub over the Hub

Waiting for the Champagne ...
Once upon a time, launches involved ships and smashing bottles of Champagne against their sides as they slid gracefully into the water. Launches nowadays seem to involve mainly websites and online services; the Champagne is then consumed at an appropriate reception and the guests slide off as gracefully as they can manage under the circumstances.  This blogpost brings news of a launch and also information about the UK's Copyright Hub, for which we have been waiting for development for what seems like the time it takes Harper Lee to publish her sequels. The news, embargoed until the very moment that this blogpost went live, reads like this, in relevant part:
New UK copyright system launched by IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe [this is a bit of an overstatement: most of the UK copyright system remains regrettably much the same today as it was yesterday. Never mind ...]

* First public use of The Copyright Hub and Digital Catapult’s ground-breaking technology [this itself is a great British invention: catapults have previously only been used for hurling objects through the air. Ground-breaking is normally done by caterpillars, not catapults]

* Agreement to use new system in Australia announced

* Launch of the public information website

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe became the first public user of The Copyright Hub and the Digital Catapult’s innovative new copyright technology at an event in London today. Using a single mouse-click, the Minister was able to secure permission to use a copyrighted [we don't normally use this word in the UK, since there is no verb "to copyright": the word "copyright" can happily used an adjective, as in "a copyright image"] image provided by project partner 4Corners Images (

The event marked the first time that The Copyright Hub’s technology – a platform developed and supported by the Digital Catapult - has gone live. The technology, which will be extended to other forms of media over the next few months, has been developed to enable creators to give permission for their work to be used both commercially and by members of the public.

Richard Hooper, Chairman of The Copyright Hub, commented: 
“This is a proud moment for The Copyright Hub team. The government has supported us since the whole process began with the Hargreaves Report in 2011, and now we are beginning to see a new era for copyright put in place. Given continuing support from industry and government, this could be a world-leading initiative on a par with the creation of the web itself.” 
There are now nearly 100 Copyright Hub applications planned, with ten under active development, including photo/picture library Mary Evans and the British Film Institute (BFI). In addition, i-publishing goes live with its first Hub application today and in the next few weeks Capture will have incorporated Hub services in their application, reaching many more picture libraries.

The international potential of the new technology was confirmed by the news that The Copyright Hub has agreed a new partnership with Australian licensing organisation the Copyright Agency. As part of this agreement, The Copyright Agency will be contributing to The Copyright Hub’s core funding.

The technology is expected to eventually be rolled out in Australia across all of the content licensed by the Copyright Agency – text, images, art, and survey plans. It continues the successful international work of The Copyright Hub, which is also working in the U.S. with the Copyright Clearance Centre and the Motion Picture Association of America and with an increasing number of other public and private partners across Europe and the world.

The Copyright Hub has also announced that it has launched a new website, to generate support for its activities. It highlights the support already received from over 45 organisations and many individuals, and invites others to get involved by contributing funding, time, Hub Applications and code [it's a lovely, friendly website but is it keeping its teeth well hidden? Key Supporters include Getty Images and Bridgeman Images ...].
It's good to find out what has been happening -- and it's even better to see some constructive efforts being made to facilitate the licensing of copyright rather than its infringement. We shall be watching with interest to see what the Hub can deliver and how greatly the copyright-consuming public takes to it.

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