For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Challenges for Media Content Producers

IPKat team blogger Jeremy is in Stockholm today, attending a conference: "International Copyright and IP Law: Challenges for Media Content Producers". This event, organised by the Media Management and Transformation Centre together with the Institute of Foreign Law, Jönköping International Business School. Some 90 academics, practitioners, rights owners and dedicated students attended, of whom (if figures cited by copyright expert Jan Rosén are true) some 30 are statistically likely to be actively involved in file-sharing.

Jan's talk, ostensibly on Swedish compliance with international copyright obligations, also provided a delightful opening into the psychology of a fair-minded, law-abiding nation when faced with the three-way collision between the interests of copyright owners, users of protected materials and the providers of the means by which the latter obtain and potentially abuse the rights of the former. He also introduced the IPKat to a term which, he suspects, he should have already known: digital Maoism.

Next to speak, giving the perspective of Swedish creators (and also, incidentally, users), was Kristina Lidehorn (Chief Legal Counsel, TV4). Kristina described the scenario of all content -- lawful and unlawful -- coming into the home through the same hole in the wall". Kristina was followed by Monique Wadsted (MAQS, but speaking for the media companies), who gave a live demonstration how torrents work (linking to The Pirate Bay) and what their significance is in commercial and legal terms [IPKat note: for an account of the threats made to TPB and their responses, click here].

This session concluded with a panel discussion, chaired by Jan, in which Kristina and Monique were joined by Johan Axhamn (secretary to the Swedish Ministry of Justice investigation into music and film on the internet), at which the battle between legal and commercial solutions was reviewed -- particularly within the context of the rights in question mainly being American, the beneficiaries being Swedes and the position of Sweden as a marginal market with its specific cultural needs. Slow responses by media companies to consumer demand, the particularly comfortable position of service providers and the effect of the IP Enforcement Directive were all under review.

After lunch barrister Gillian Davies (alias Copinger and Skone James on Copyright) touched on a technically tricky topic, the extent to which the interpretation of copyright law at national level affects international treaties.

Right: pirates flourished before an intricate web of bilateral copyright treaties gave way to the Berne Convention

Gillian explained the evolution of international treaties as they moved from establishing bare principles to requiring the adoption of minimum substantive norms, as well as the consequences of direct or indirect implementation of those norms in domestic law.

Swedish legal academic Edward Humphreys -- a driving force behind this event -- then focused sharply on the protection of TV format rights, including Big Brother, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Farmer Wants a Wife. After outlining the magnitude of the commercial market and the extent to which mainline IP protections skirt round format protection, Edward asked some testing questions as to how formats can best be protected, making the most of the various ingredients of any given format that might enjoy protection in their own right.

The day closed with presentations by Dimiter Gantchev (WIPO) on his organisation's work towards the establishment of a framework for "business and development" [says Merpel, is business what you do when you create IP, while development is what you do with someone else's?] and the BBC's Martyn Freeman, giving a view of the opportunities, challenges and headaches for businesses operating in a multitude of copyright regimes.

Lessig count: there was just one mention of Larry Lessig in the course of the whole day's programme. Is this, ask Merpel, the result of embarrassing ignorance or of a new European determination to think for itself?

What particularly struck this bit of the IPKat was the excellence of so much of the current research, and the high level of awareness and sensitivity to contemparary issues, that his Swedish hosts displayed.

Right: a Swedish wildcat, meditating over the concept of digital Maoism (or is it Miaoism?)

The IPKat's verdict: however much you deny it, and however much the new media make it easy to receive and absorb information from around the world, the best way to learn and think about new ideas and concepts is to sit down and talk to other people about them - particularly if those other people are fresh to you. Even when you are working in London, constantly discussing your own ideas and arguments with your own friends and colleagues is a comfortable route to complacancy and parochialism. This visit to Stockholm helped clear out the cobwebs of habits of thought, for which the Kat is truly grateful.

Further details of the programme here
All the presentations have been recorded. If you'd like to hear them, absolutely free, and if you'd like copies of the available PowerPoints, email Barbara Eklof here

1 comment:

Niel said...

Speaking of Pirate Bay, you may be amused/upset/other emotion* to know that, IPFI having let it lapse, Pirate Bay has acquired the domain name ifpi.com . The acronym apparently stands for International Federation of Pirates' Interests!. See the web page http://www.ifpi.com/ifpi/

* Delete as appropriate

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