Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Creative London


  As has been widely discussed in recent years, many creative industries are undergoing profound change as a result of digitalisation and the emergence of new media channels such as broadband Internet and mobile. The impact of this "convergence" on the production and distribution of media and audio-visual content is transforming existing practices, with many London-based businesses facing up to new challenges and competitors, but also considerable creative and commercial opportunities. Creative London/LDA is specifically addressing the issue of convergence, and is developing an effective programme of support for the creative sector, particularly for start-ups, entrepreneurs and the small, independently-owned enterprises central to the future success of London's creative economy.

1.  Assessing the Impact of Digitalisation Across the Sector

  An obvious starting point for analysing London's creative sector, and assessing its support needs, was that of the productive chain, which highlights the principal activities and linkages that make up the lifecycle of a product, from origination through to consumption. For all of the creative industries, we can identify a highly simplified and generalised production chain with four key stages:

Stage 1 Creation

  The processes by which creative material and intellectual assets are originated and produced. It is the most obviously "creative" part of the chain and covers activities such as the origination and development of ideas, the commissioning of content etc.

Stage 2 Production

  The making, developing, or recording of the product "one offs", or prototypes, which may be reproduced later.

Stage 3 Distribution

  All of the stages in channeling products and services into end-user markets: reproduction, shipping, wholesaling, broadcasting etc. This includes marketing.

Stage 4 Consumption

  Includes venue-based exhibition of products (eg theatres, cinemas etc) as well as retail points and personal consumption.

  We can assess the degree of digitalisation on each of the creative industries, by looking at how digital media is impacting and driving change in each of their production chains. Although rather a crude exercise, the bold text gives an indication of where digital technologies, platforms and tools are having a substantive impact, or can be expected to transform existing working practices.


AdvertisingGeneric professional tools (word processing, design, planning and presentation software) A wide range of digital production tools, depending on medium Across media channels (print, TV, cinema, online) and therefore increasingly digital Depends on media channel
ArchitectureGeneric professional tools, particularly design software Industry standard software packages (design, animation,
3-D visioning)
N/ANot Applicable (N/A)
Arts/antiquesVery little, although increased interest in digital and interactive art Some use of image manipulation and animation tools Some e-commerce, online auctions and marketing N/A
CraftsNegligibleNegligible Some e-commerce and e-marketing, but limited Negligible
Designer FashionDigital design tools important for images,
3-D models
Digital printing and cutting increasing, but still primarily physical process Negligible: e-commerce having little effect on clothes retail N/A
Film and VideoRelatively simple digital tools to assist writing, design, storyboard etc Digital shooting equipment, with onscreen editing, post-production, effects all standard Suggestions that it will follow the music inductry, with dowloading of film/TV content Both cinema and personal entertainment systems becoming more digitised
Interactive Leisure Software/GamesDigital tools for design, storyboard etc Entirely digital production process, similar to software e-commerce and
e-marketing increasing, with games downloads or played online
Onscreen, and completely digital
MusicIncreasing, with digital instruments and software used to compose Digital tools used extensively in recording and production Online distribution (both legal and not) is transforming industry and business models Digital players are now standard
New mediaDigital, using design tools Entirely digital, wholly based around software authoring tools Entirely through digital channels: online, digital TV etc Onscreen, and entirely digital
Performing ArtsNegligible Limited, though multimedia and digital audio-visual being incorporated into productions Limited, although e-booking is increasingly common Negligible
PublishingGeneric professional tools (word processors, illustration packages) DTP (digital design, images, text editing, layout etc) is standard Digital printing is increasing. E-commerce is well established for books, with many magazines, journals etc now published online Print still dominates consumer publishing, but e-books emerging and onscreen is well established for academic, journals, reference etc
RadioRelatively simple digital tools As with music, digital tools used in recording and production Digital and online broadcasting increasing Digital radios and receivers increasingly common
TelevisionRelatively simple digital tools to assist writing, design, storyboard etc Digital shooting equipment, with onscreen editing, post-production, effects all standard Digital broadcasting becoming dominant Digital players becoming standard, with increased opportunities for personalisation and interactivity

  As part of Creative London's broader programme of sector support, the following industries are therefore all being specifically targeted for support interventions within the context of changes being brought by new media.

    —  Television: production and broadcast.

    —  New media, covering interactive content production, cross-format media and interaction design services.

    —  Video games production, for console, PC, wireless platforms etc.

    —  Music production and distribution.

  In some ways, it could be argued that an approach based around individual creative sectors makes little sense. The very nature of the changes being brought by digital technologies means that previously distinct industries, such as television and games, are now converging, with considerable overlap in the manner in which they are produced and distributed. Rather than completely separate activities, they can all be considered as instances of digital content.

  Increasingly, such intellectual property is no longer envisaged as a distinct creative product, such as a TV programme, but rather as digital content with a number of different distribution platforms. The hit show Big Brother for instance is a TV programme, video game, website and mobile news service, each of which generates revenues.

  Creative London recognises that industry-specific interventions of the kind delivered by LDA and partners will become increasingly problematic. For instance, some of the ideas focused around developing television content or video games markets—in years to come, it might be more useful to think about more general markets for digital content. However, for the time being at least, the industry production chains and distribution channels are sufficiently distinct to approach the sectors individually, in line with how most professionals and trade associations currently regard themselves.

2.  The Impact of unauthorised reproduction/dissemination of creative content

  Creative London recognises that the value of London's creative sector resides in the ability of creative enterprises to generate, commercialise, defend, trade and earn revenues from intellectual property, particularly in the form of copyright protected creative content. As such, any copyright infringement, whether online file sharing between individuals, or the illegal copying and selling of pirated CDs and DVDs could be expected to impact negatively on London's sector.

  However, Creative London has little indication as to the nature of this impact. We have not undertaken any research work on the extent of copyright infringement in London or its impact on creative enterprises, whether enabled by digital technologies or not. From our regular consultation with trade associations and other stakeholders, we are aware that it is a pressing concern for London's content producers, but it is difficult to assess its full extent.

  The Mayor's Commission on the Creative Industries, which was convened by the LDA, held a seminar dedicated to intellectual property, in which the issue of copyright infringement through digital networks was discussed—although it was not clear how much of a problem it is, and no attempt has been made to actually quantify any losses for London's creative sector. In the course of this seminar, the point was also stressed that considerable innovation and wealth generation is taking place under different intellectual property models, such as open source protocols and creative commons licensing agreements, and that a broad-minded approach to IP was needed, which can encourage innovation and enterprise as well as protecting existing rights owners. Many creative professionals across the sector draw extensively on existing ideas and work for their creative purposes, and it is therefore important that an IP framework is not too restrictive, and resources currently within the public domain are maintained for future and open use.

  We would welcome further research into the relationship between IP legislation and innovation in the creative industries. In particular, we feel that in-depth investigation is needed with regards to new business models in the sector, which many commentators have suggested will be of increasing importance in the creative economy. Given the difficulties in preventing digital copyright infringement through technical means or legal enforcement, particularly in emerging international markets, consideration should be given to other approaches by which creative producers can earn revenues for their work.

  Nevertheless, for the vast majority of London's creative businesses, the traditional models of earnings from defensible IP, such as copyrighted works, is obviously essential to their success. To this end, Creative London has helped to establish the support initiative Own It ( Based at the London College of Communication, Own It advises creative freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses on how to retain, defend, negotiate, value and exploit their intellectual property.

  It has developed partnerships with industry associations and law firms, in order to provide support for enterprises as diverse as music labels, film makers and visual artists. As part of its programme, it has specifically looked at new media and digital technologies.

  Own It has been an immediate success, and a testament to the industry demand for advice/support around IP issues. In just one year, it has run 45 events, and 5,000 creative professionals have benefited from its activities. Own It is currently delivering free one to one IP legal advice which involves six law firms providing pro bono support to Own It.

  An initial survey by Own It into how creatives value their own and other's intellectual property in their business activity showed the following:

  Unauthorised use of other's intellectual property.

    —  80% (79.775%) of respondents have used someone else's work in their own work without permission.

    —  Most commonly infringed work was photography, followed by fonts, then words. Most prevalent infringers: Industrial product designers (83%), then Film, TV, Radio professionals (82%) and Illustration, Graphic and Packaging Design (78%).

  Unauthorised use of their own intellectual property by others.

    —  50% of respondents believe their own work has been used by others without permission.

    —  27% did nothing, 33% complained to friends and colleagues, 22% contacted the offending party, 12% took legal advice and 4% took actual legal action.

  These statistics clarified the need for Own It to disseminate IP protection methods, knowledge and application to the creative industries, and to provide advice on defence of intellectual property.

  However, it also shed light on how this sector was valuing their own and other's rights. The creative industry sector trades and relies on its own intellectual property for income and growth. Yet, at the same time, a proportion of it are using other people's rights for financial gain, without offering any payment or gaining permission.

  Further research obviously needs to be done into what methods were used for copying, actual or digital, and also why permission was not sought by the creatives from the rights holders. An initial assumption is that they are taking a risk and won't get caught, another is that any permission granted by the rights holders will result in costs which they can't afford as well as paperwork and complex license agreements which will be time consuming to administer, will require legal intervention and will be a distraction from their core business—being creative.

  It became apparent that if the piracy could be turned into a simple accessible license then multi authoring could be formalised and a synergy would be achieved that reflected the convergence of IP protection of one's own work in tandem with the acknowledgement of the other sources of creative input. Thus, a harmonisation between the copyright and copyleft systems would be achievable and practical for the creative practitioners and which mirrored the way they are currently working using multiple influences and visual information.

  In light of this Own It has now launched Share It:

  Own It and Share It reflect both the traditional and new IP business models and the spectrum of possibilities for owning, exploiting, sharing and developing innovation and creativity. It is now hoped that Own It will be able to inform any further research into how the Open movement can address the emerging IP needs of the design and visual art community.

28 February 2006

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