I’m no expert on copyright and IP but I can tell you that many practitioners in the creative and cultural sectors feel bewildered by the plethora of existing and emerging legislation around IPR management. It was bad enough negotiating the territory in an analogue world. While it’s been great for increasing access to resources, the advent of the digital has only made matters more complicated.
As the manager of an accredited museum and part-time member of teaching staff on CSM’s MA in Culture, Criticism and Curtation I find myself wrestling with copyright and IP issues on an almost daily basis. Can I use this image I found on the internet in an educational presentation? Can my students create a fictional online character using archive material? Can I store and preserve a digital work of art which trawls Instagram for content?
There are many excellent copyright training courses around and I’ve attended quite a few in my quest to get to grips with this challenging landscape, but I often wind up feeling overwhelmed as a result – too mired in my limited understanding of the legislation to make the simplest of decisions. A little knowledge can be debilitating, instilling a sense that one knows just enough to follow the letter of the law and not enough to address the issue creatively.
The idea of Questioning Rights came from discussions I’d been having with colleagues at University of the Arts London, the Archiving the Arts team at the National Archive and the Kings Cross Knowledge Quarter. All three of us have a vested interest in skills sharing and knowledge exchange in the pursuit of best practice. We agreed that it was time for a more open conversation about copyright and IP looking at managed risk taking, innovative practice and emerging research.
Between us we have managed to put together a really exciting day-programme including a creative practitioner, library manager, copyright lawyer, commercial licensing agency and a Research Councils UK funded research project. We will also be hearing from the Design and Artists Copyright Society, Copyright Licensing Agency, Copyright Hub and Digital Catapult Centre.
Together speakers will address forthcoming legislation and what it might mean for us as a creative and cultural sector. They will share emerging research around evolving forms of IP exploitation and resources aimed at making UK Copyright Law accessible to creators, media producers, entrepreneurs, students, and members of the public. They will suggest how to respond to growing levels of piracy and ways of ensuring artists can ensure their legacy through archiving. We are all aware that there isn’t a single silver bullet for IPR management, but we hope that we might at least be able to get the conversation started.
I believe in the current economic landscape the creative and cultural sector is really hungry for this sort of low cost event. Things might be picking up in terms of house prices and commerce but for most museums, galleries, libraries, educational institutions and creative practitioners training budgets are shrinking or non-existent. I’ve been Chair of the London Museums Group for the past five years and we’ve had huge success running a series of similar skills sharing events. The format is less formal than an academic conference, with plenty of time for panel discussions and networking over a cup of tea. University of the Arts is hosting this event on a not-for-profit basis with the ticket charge covering the cost of refreshments. Why not join us and ensure the conversation goes with a swing.