Getting beyond copyright and into the gold rush – C&binet Forum 2009

Last week’s C&binet Forum was, on the surface, dominated by concerns about copyright from those with most to lose from filesharing. The agenda was framed to encourage the most fulsome arguments to be voiced by representatives of big players in music and publishing. And although all recognised the need for carrots to encourage consumers to pay for downloading content, and a campaign to raise awareness that filesharing is theft which could deny a livelihood to musicians and authors, most of the discussions were about the need for sticks. Today only 1 in 20 of downloaded music tracks is paid for.

C&binet is a not-for-profit network, created by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport to link the international creative and commercial communities to grow the global creative economy. At last week’s forum,  business leaders from across the creative and finance industries came together to debate access to finance for creative industries, new business models for online content, developing talent and securing creative rights.

Three cabinet ministers trailed the announcement made by Peter Mandelson on the final morning of the conference, that the Government proposed a new Copyright Strategy for rights management and licensing in the digital age, including the British version of ‘3 strikes and you’re out’, which is two notifications and then ‘proportionate’ action for those who violate copyright.

So with that all important stake in the ground,  other issues which were debated and discussed ..

Its all about the bandwidth, baby

In 5 years time the capacity of the internet will be enormous and with band widths and speeds on a completely different scale from today. So won’t the issue of downloading be redundant?

Mobile is more and more the future

Won’t our devices be ever more disposable as everything is kept in the cloud and as technology becomes embedded in our walls and cars? Notions of disposable Kindles were floated, looking down the evolutionary telescope.

Be Greater with Data

With the exponential extension of cyberspace, the amassing of meta data will form a content –aware network which will be pretty much able to know everything. This will generate multiple issues of licensing and privacy but will be able to be used for almost everything. People/consumers/customers/users will become more and more aware of the monetary value of their personal data as the transaction between users, suppliers and advertisers becomes ever more sophisticated.


Freemium is the business model for tomorrow- make that today

Although there were many references to the need to find new business models, that really was from those who only have old business models.

Taking publishing, Gail Rebuck of Random House told us that within 24 hours of the publication of the latest Dan Brown novel, there were 70 pirate sites offering it for free.

Cory Doctorow, on the other hand, is developing the whole suite of Freemium services with his forthcoming collection of short stories, with free downloadable editions in a variety of formats, pay-per-use audio CD, opportunities for readers to enhance their product, from the $250 hand bound edition to the $10,000 bespoke edition with a unique chapter for the purchaser. These are in addition to buying from a bookseller and his ‘donate’ service where you can buy a book and donate it to a deserving school or library.

This business model nestles comfortably amongst Spotify and Playfish- both of whom use the upselling model as their framework.

Collaboration is king
All of the statistics show that the areas where there is major growth is where people can interact and get involved – games and social networking.

Some of the industry leaders from the games industry, from Spotify and Google were bemused by the focus on copyright and old business models. With a global perspective, they have an eye on what is happening in China, India and Brazil where the growth in creative industries and internet activity is faster than in the UK. The next billion mobiles are projected to be bought in China. And Australia has invested $43bn in fibre networks.

In the words of a games industry leader  “if we don’t get a move on, the UK will simply be trampled on in the gold rush”

But now, with Mandelson’s announcement, we can get beyond copyright. Other areas were aired and discussed at the Forum and with a wide range of leaders of all types and scales of creative businesses attending, this could be the beginning of an effective network in which to influence Government for the success of our creative economy.

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