Researchers dive into copyrights and wrongs of the download age

Researchers dive into copyrights and wrongs of the download age

Summary: The University of Glasgow will be home to a research centre that will examine how copyright is changing and the need for new business models for distributing creative content.


A research centre at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, is to investigate the changing nature of copyright and the need for new business models in the digital age, it was announced on Thursday.

The Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise, and Technology (CREATe) will seek to address the challenges that are presented to businesses and government by an increasingly digital world, while helping policy makers develop new regulatory frameworks around copyright.

"TheUK creative sector is the largest in the world and worth £60 billion a year, or about 6 percent of GDP," CREATe director, Professor Martin Kretschmer told ZDNet. "If you've got issues such as whether copyright exceptions facilitate new services or kill existing businesses, the right answer matters greatly."

Studies have shown that between 60 percent and 70 percent of young people download music, movies, and TV shows illegally, according to Kretschmer. However, some of these illegal downloaders also spend considerable sums of money on creative content, so business models need to be rethought, he claimed.

Over the next four years, academics will work on 40 projects that will focus on the intersections between culture, the economy, and technology.

"Expertise is needed that is technology savvy, understands law, and is able to employ social science approaches, because the combination of the three enables the type of studies that are needed here," said Kretschmer. "Whether it's relating to consumer behaviour and how it's affected by regulatory changes, or whether it is about business models and whether [being] first to the market is more important than exclusivity... It's impossible to understand those questions in one disciplinary context."

"If you've got issues such as whether copyright exceptions facilitate new services or kill existing businesses, the right answer matters greatly."
--Prof Martin Kretschmer

The centre at the University of Glasgow will work with researchers from six UK universities, including St Andrews, Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Nottingham, East Anglia, and Goldsmiths, University of London.

The projects are to be funded by a £5 million investment from UK research councils, which include the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Meanwhile, the University of Glasgow will contribute £1.7 million over the funding period to pay for 24 post doctoral researchers and 16 PhDs.

The UK government has been trying in recent years to acknowledge the changes that the digital era has brought about. Last December, it announced that copying music, video, and film was going to be made legal in 2013, finally permitting people to rip CDs without breaking the law. The move is part of the government's wider plans to overhaul the copyright system, following recommendations made in the Ian Hargreaves Intellectual Property (IP) review in 2011.

Topics: Education, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • I hope

    that they will take an objective look at copyright law and not become a mouthpiece for the the content industry
    • Re: and not become a mouthpiece for the the content industry

      If by "content industry" you mean "publishers and distributors", then I second that.
  • Copyright

    I hope they will look into cloud storing and who owns the materials stored there, there is already google docs, now office 365. Will it be owned by the individual who wrote it, or the company storing it, if it is the company storing it, to protect themselves will they be starting to read everything you store in the cloud to make sure they are complient with the law?
  • What a mess

    The one problem is that the monopoly that has been given to big copyright holders is styfelling the creation of more content. Copyright laws were created to help content creators to keep control of their content and at least make something from it to encourage them to make more content.
    Those days are gone , with the creation of the internet it is possible for everyone to create and distribute their content. We no longer need middlemen who control what artists are seen or hear from. Radio and TV is controlled by the monopoly, and this needs to change, anyone should be able to release a song or movie and reach the top of the charts and award systems, but at the moment if you do not sign your copyright over to a cartel you are refused the right to have your content heard on the radio or on the tv.

    There are many business models that could help artists but most of those give the artists more income and the publishers less. If anything publishers should have much less of a say in the marketing of content, especially now that anyone can market their own music rather easily.

    I suspect that the only real business model that will work is a cheap subscription model. Nothing else is going to be in any way competitive with free and free is not going away any time soon.

    Musicians make almost nothing from cd sales or even mp3 sales...most going to the publishers, they make their money from concerts and selling merchandise.

    This is going to be a tough job, but as long as the copyright cartel does not get too involved it could mean big things for music and video.

    One example of how copyright is doing damage is books , where ebooks are sold sometimes for more than the physical equivalent, this just encourages people to share their eBooks with each other and refuse to pay the crazy prices asked for.
    If anything eBooks should be priced around the £1 mark, or max £2 for latest releases, there is just no justification for the higher prices and i for one will never pay more for something that is not physical that i cannot hold , i will always think of eBooks as a cheap purchase and anyone wanting more .
    One of the arguments copyright holders have is that if you cannot afford something then don't get it, but if someone is prepared to share a book they have read with me i am going to do that. As do 60% of the population. Sharing is what the internet was built for , sharing is something everyone does, from getting books from the library to someone giving you a book they have read to read yourself. Just because it is easier to share online does not mean that it is wrong.

    The monopoly needs to be destroyed, the monopoly is doing more damage than anything else, once that is gone then people will find a way to make money from their content, just as long as they are not going to be greedy and expect to make millions of dollars.

    If we look back over the past 50 years, there have not been that many people making money from music or video or writing. There has always only been a few main players, that have given their copyright over to big business who have used their monopoly to make themselves and in some cases the content creators rich.

    I am looking forward to a change in copyright , a change where the younger generation will respect it and try to abide by it. The laws at the moment are so one sided it is just not going to be respected by anyone that knows how technology has changed the whole picture.