A blueprint to nurture the creatives: it takes Brains ...

A media alert from the Confederation of British Industry, "CBI launches blueprint to nurture UK’S creative industries", was circulated at the beginning of the week. According to its text:
The CBI is calling on the Government to deliver a clear strategy [As opposed to an unclear one? This demand falls foul of the IPKat's First Law: the clearer the statement of principles, the less clear is its applicability to any given factual situation] to ensure the UK’s creative industries can flourish and help lead the economic recovery.

Launching its new report, Creating growth: A blueprint for the creative industries, the UK’s leading business group [not that there's much competition] stressed the vital economic contribution of creative industries, including TV, film, art, fashion, media and design [Stressing the contribution is the easy bit; sustaining it is the problem].
It is estimated that these industries contribute between 6 and 8 percent of GDP, account for £16bn of overseas trade each year and employ nearly two million people. The sector also significantly enhances the UK's cultural reputation globally, underlining the vitality of the UK economy.
The CBI believes the UK’s creative sector, which is the biggest in Europe, can play a crucial role in rebalancing the economy and delivering high growth. For that to happen, the business group says the Government must deliver the right conditions for the sector to thrive and create new jobs [We'll have to create new consumers too, or we'll just be providing more choice of content and platform for the same people. Won't we?].
[CBI President Helen Alexander is then quoted as saying much the same thing: omitted]
The CBI says Government action should focus on the following areas:
* On competition policy, we need a modern, forward-looking regime that reflects the new digital environment [Don't we need a regime that just reflects the environment of Brussels, where UK competition policy now originates?].
* On skills, government policy should include what is needed by creative businesses and ensure these are being delivered by the education system [A tricky one here: if our creative sector is bigger than that of other European countries, perhaps -- though it can't be true -- our education system has already delivered it].
* On intellectual property, the Government must provide certainty about the IP regime so companies can derive value from their rights [And what about certainty for traffic lights? The silly things keep changing colour! When there's a grey area dispute in IP, there's often a British company on each side of it, and a good old British compromise can work better than having winners and losers]. It must also be active in international forums, since IP is a global issue [Planet CBI is obviously light years away from Newport -- the UK's Intellectual Property Office has never been anything other than active in international forums, to its great credit].
* On tax, we need a competitive framework that promotes start-ups, innovative and high-growth businesses [Quite right!!]. Given that many creative businesses are highly mobile, we need policies to ensure talent does not go elsewhere [Er, if they're creative and talented they'll be able to work out how to go elsewhere -- but they may not want to come here in the first place if they think they won't be allowed to leave].
* On the finance front, it can be difficult for creative firms to access the capital they need to get their products off the ground, especially when they can come with unproven revenue streams. The Government must work to ensure that access to finance does not become a barrier to growth for creative industries [The private sector must play its part too. How dare it sink its funds into boringly safe ventures when there are so many excitingly risky ways to lose its money, destroy shareholder confidence and beggar the pension companies that have invested in it].
* On infrastructure, there needs to be a policy framework that will encourage market-led investment in quality, high-speed internet [the panacea]".
Says the IPKat: it takes brains to put together a blueprint for the development of a strategy for nurturing the creative industries -- and he hopes that no effort will be spared when it comes to getting those brains to engage in some creative thinking. That time has manifestly not come yet, if one considers the paucity of content and of originality in this short (12 side) and space-filled document. Come on, CBI: you can do better than this! Merpel adds, considering that this emanates from "the UK’s leading business group", one might have imagined that it would be picked up and discussed by the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the BBC and other major news-and-views carriers. A quick Google search shows that the CBI's blueprint has attracted the attention of IncGamers, The Stage, Gamasutra (I kid you not), The Drum and the Liverpool Daily Post -- which describes the CBI merely as a lobby group.

You can read the blueprint in full here
A blueprint to nurture the creatives: it takes Brains ... A blueprint to nurture the creatives: it takes Brains ... Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. The IPKat's deconstruction of corporate waffle is always entertaining and instructive. The examples you quote are ripe for plucking.

    But, from a quick scan, there appears to be some meat in the CBI's document, hidden amongst the flannel. For example, the paragraph from which you quote the comment about international cooperation also says that it should be made easier (cheaper?) to enforce IP rights, and that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the copyright system, so the Government should resist proposals for radical changes, whether those proposals are made at the national or international level. Both of these points, in a single paragraph of the document, seem to me substantial and worth saying, particularly at a time when one hears economists questioning whether IP contributes anything positive to the economy.

  2. Mark, I agree with you that there's some "meat hidden amongst the flannel" -- but it's not particularly fresh meat.

    "It ought to be made easier/cheaper to enforce IP rights" is fine, except that everyone's been saying that for some time now, and I'm not aware of anyone seriously arguing that IP enforcement should be made harder or more expensive.

    Also, "nothing fundamentally wrong with the copyright system" is not hugely earth-shattering, particularly within industrial and commercial sectors. It tends to be radical academics who call for radical overhauls, together with those who incorporate "right of access to works" and "right of online access" within the sphere of copyright.

    Incidentally, does anyone know what proportion of the creative industries are represented by the CBI or regard it as speaking for them?

  3. When the CBI says "active in international forums", perhaps it means "do what the CBI tells it to in international forums"?

    And anyway, don't they know that the plural of "forum" is "fora"?

    I'm all for making IP rights easier/cheaper to enforce, as long as that process doesn't effectively make it more difficult/expensive/risky to defend oneself against any accusations of abuse of IP rights, and as long as the changes don't make the system unworkable (for example the criminalisation of patent infringement, which is patently insane - pun intended)

  4. Dave, the dictionaries give both forums and fora as the correct plural. As an English-speaker I prefer forums, just as I prefer cactuses to cacti and octopuses to octopodes. Being inconsistent, I use data, not datums ...

  5. Jeremy,

    I refer to your comment--"It tends to be radical academics who call for radical overhauls, together with those who incorporate "right of access to works" and "right of online access" within the sphere of copyright."

    It is not only academics, radical or not. There is a least one prominent judge in Israel who seems to have made the "rights of users" a fundamental part of copyright law and a recurring judicial basis to dimimish the rights of copyright holders.

    Neil Wilkof

  6. Jeremy, yes, sort of...

    The fact that something's been said a lot and nothing's been done could be an argument for saying it some more. And your alternative of arguing that it should be more expensive is a false alternative (expect there's a name for it in rhetoric) - what about the alternatives of being happy or indifferent about the current levels of costs?

    If it is so obvious and universally understood that there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the copyright system, why was Gowers needed, and why did Gowers come up with hundreds of recommendations?

  7. I prefer media to mediums.

  8. Neil, I never intended to suggest that it was only radical academics who wanted to overthrow the current system -- the Pirate Parties may be radical but on the whole it would be difficult to characterise them as being academic.

    In any event, the emphasis of "rights of users", or indeed its over-emphasis, is not tantamount to uprooting copyright law as we know it. Rights of users have been enshrined in copyright since the Berne Convention identified them in 1886.

  9. Mark -- I wonder whether your citation of the Gowers Review actually supports my contentions. Of its 54 recommendations only 14 relate specifically to copyright, and some of them are recommendations of no change or marginal tinkering. The cry that calls for changes must be evidence-based has resulted in an unofficial endorsement of the status quo.

  10. @Anonymous 9:45

    You prefer media to mediums. I prefer bums to ba.

  11. @Anonymous 10:08

    Your comment nearly made me choke on my bananum.

  12. Thanks for sharing your views on our blueprint.

    You can follow or get involved with our work on the creative industries here:


    Keep in touch

    Graham Smith

    Head of marketing, CBI

  13. Mark - it's a false dichotomy.

  14. The Government clearly listens to the CBI and I welcome this statement, however, ACID and many, many other IP stakeholders have been lobbying for several decades on the CBI’s suggestion to Government to provide, “Certainty about the IP regime so that companies can derive value from their rights”. What we now need is real pressure from the CBI to follow through to urge Government on real actions points to create an IP regime that is moving in tangent with 21st century needs and its fast moving demands. Greater exemplary damages, easier access to a cost effective IP legal system, increased IP awareness and education, easier access to IP registration, a robust enforcement system and declared IP in corporate responsibility would be a good start. Dids Macdonald CEO ACID


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