Getting Creative with Creative Rights

Labour Party


I had the pleasure of being invited to take part in a panel discussion at a conference run by the EU Observer, called Online Content and Creative Rights. The discussion was entitled ‘Get paid when you get played’ and I shared the platform with Liberal MEP Cecilia Wilkström, Jörg Evers, Chairperson of GEMA, and Jean-Eric De Cockborne from the European Commission.  The debate focused on what we as legislators could do to tackle this important and difficult issue while Mr. Evers provided an industry perspective.

It was an enlightening debate, one that brought in to sharp relief the complex nature of the problem.  The Reflections paper released by the European Commission has suggested that there be a single European Market for copyright, with big international collecting societies providing a “one stop shop” for everyone – from i-Tunes to BBC Radio 1 – wishing to purchase a license to play or distribute music.  This sounds like a perfectly sensible and workable idea, especially when you think about the current situation where rights to music have to be negotiated on a country by country basis, meaning that some music available in one country won’t be available in another.  This can encourage piracy, since if a song is not available legally in a particular country then some would simply look for an alternative, most likely illegal, source on the internet. 

But this single market idea does have a lot of problems, especially when you consider cultural diversity, something that the European Parliament is very keen to protect.  Artists and creators from smaller member states or more niche markets might get lost or forgotten in a huge, pan-European system.  So already a difficult question and we haven’t even started talking properly about piracy yet.  Needless to say when we were asked questions by the floor, a great many forthright views were expressed.  It was very useful for me and my fellow legislators to see the strength and diversity of feeling on these issues.

The Labour Government is introducing some very good legislation at the moment which is going to tackle this issue head on, punishing those who download and upload content illegally.  I hope that we can be as constructive at the European level.  This is one of the big issues in the Culture and Education Committee, and as the Coordinator for the S&D group, I will be working with my colleagues to make sure we find the right solution.  The internet has meant that the old way of doing things for collecting societies and the record industry is now quickly becoming obsolete, so it is up to them as well as us here in the Parliament to find solutions.  It is time for us all to get creative with creative rights.

I did an interview for the EU Observer website afterwards which you can find here, along with a number of other interviews from people speaking at the conference.

One thought on “Getting Creative with Creative Rights

  1. Very interesting update on a fascinating subject.
    The question I would ask is whether there is now a new IPR emerging with a new paradigm – and whether that might be uniquely protected?

    Just as the internet has led to some new new challanges for intellectual property rights – in addition to file sharing – we may also need to accept that collaboration over the web may create a new form of intellectual property (there are a few suggestions on the IPA website on this etc) Of course IPR is vital for many industries (and individuals) including creative and media – also pharmaceuticals – but I think there is a good question as to whether UK legislation (say for Patents initiated about 1907) and of course updated since is now, in reality, in need of a more fundamental examination in light of the web practices. I am not for one minute questioning new legislation – but is there now a new and emerging IPR and could that be uniquely regulated in some way and what is its economic significance? I am ploughing through some of the legislation and global convetions – and EU policy on innovation – I will post an article on my blog when I have done this.

    ps I am also considering SMEs – puting in place say patent protection round the world is costly; perhaps too costly for some; it also takes a long time – we seem to be talking years in fact. I have a question here – what is the economic impact of this and what would be the economic impact of accelerating the pace of patents and in making it faster – if this were possible? Dont need to be an expert in econometrics to model the cost of each year within the lifecycle of an investment programme – establish the whole life cost and then plug in the improved NPV for acceleration. I remember that there is an ISO stadard here already.

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