Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Derek Freeman

  1.  There is a consensus amongst policy makers and economists that innovation is the key to prosperity in information and knowledge based economies.

  2.  If "knowledge plus knowledge = innovation" then at the heart of the potential of high bandwidth electronic digital networks, and the new media platforms which rest on them, is the breadth and range of knowledge and experience which can be readily shared and combined, as participation by a very wide range of actors, not possible before, is facilitated.

  3.  This key potential for the creative industries of recent and future developments in digital convergence and media technology lies therefore in the entirely new scale, ease, and range of forms of participative collaboration in knowledge iteration and development, as well as distribution, which widespread access to digital networks makes possible.

  4.  This potential has already begun, and will continue, to transform the means of production, distribution, and exchange of knowledge with profound economic and cultural impacts across, and beyond, the creative industries.

  5.  Knowledge development, and its economic utilisation, is the basis of the creative industries. The significantly enhanced possibility for participation means that the roles of actors within knowledge related processes, including R&D, conducted in this essentially new network space are changing.

  6.  The fruits of knowledge development in the cultural sphere—music, films, computer games, graphic art etc, as well as those of many other artforms, may no longer in future be primarily constructed, selected, broadcast and distributed by self appointed "creative" elites to passive consumers. They are more likely in very many instances to be co-created by people who are in an active sense both artists, producers, curators, distributors, and audience members.

  7.  In November 2005 a survey by the American Pew Institute found that:

  7.1  Overall, one-third (33%) of online teenagers in the USA report sharing their own artwork, photos, stories, or videos with others via the internet

  7.2  Teenagers are not content to consume online content passively. Some have joined the ranks of those who take material they find online-such as songs, text, or images-and remix that digital material into their own creations. About one in five internet-using teens (19%) say they are content remixers, as do 18% of online adults.

  7.3  Content remixing is equally prevalent across genders, ages, and socioeconomic groups.

  8.  Web and mobile phone based initiatives such as the social network and photo sharing "flickr" ( illustrate the massive popularity of self created, curated, published and shared creative work, in this instance photography. By mid 2005, Flickr has 775,000 users and was growing at about 30% a month.

  9.  Social networking sites based on individuals creating and publishing web content have also already reached mass proportions in several countries

  9.1  In the USA MySpace ( has 40 million members.

  9.2  12 million Koreans (out of a total population of 40 million in South Korea) are members of "Cyworld" blogging and sharing photos and other digital content.

  10.  Games software offers an illustration of the potential. Users seek to build on and develop code and content originally produced by software houses and released by publishers. They modify it to create new content or "levels" of gameplay, often learning the skills to do so from other users utilising online forums for support and advice. They then share the modifications and new levels of gameplay created with other users across digital networks.

  This has the potential to benefit the software houses and publishers, as users create new content ideas; significantly enhance the value of the game for other users, and in doing so promote the game, leading to increased sales, all at no additional cost to the original producers.

  11.  This potential is realised through the reproduction and dissemination of creative content using new technology.

  12.  Intellectual Property and regulatory regimes intended to narrowly focus on the rights of and supposedly "protect" the original content producer and publisher, and are punitive of reproducing, collaboratively iterating and reworking creative content, and re distributing and sharing it, would hinder these possibilities.

  13.  This changed context, ie widespread access to electronic digital networks, and the associated participative and collaborative potential it releases, will over time impact on the whole of the process of efficiently developing and utilising creative (and other forms of) knowledge for economic benefit. In terms of how it is created, by whom, how it can best be distributed, and exploited, as well as how it can be most effectively researched and developed.

  14.  The enormity of the impact of the new environment is illustrated by the experience of the music industry over a short space of time, where the process, still playing out, began a little earlier than in other creative industry sectors. (interestingly discussed by creative industry innovaters, musicians, and others in the published proceedings of "The Music and Technology: Visions for the Future: Copyright Law; Marketplace; Business Models; Royalty Collection" organised by Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in partnership with Arts Council England, BT and NESTA

  15.  As access to broadband networks with higher and higher speeds increases this potential is enhanced and made more realisable.

  16.  These long term processes and their impacts have begun to transform other creative industry sectors covered by the inquiry's definition such as visual broadcasts, sound broadcasts, film, graphic art, design, advertising, fashion as well as games software.

  17.  Illustrations of the early beginnings of this long term and paradigm shifting process can be glimpsed in respect to visual broadcasts, film and sound broadcasts in internet initiatives such as:


    "Once a documentary is uploaded, anyone can watch it. Uploaded films are categorised in different ways: you can watch the most viewed, the most recently submitted, or the highest rated. `FourDocs' represents the democratisation of documentary filmmaking. Everyone can join in, not just those who are already making films."

  17.2  This has been taken several stages further by Democracy Player "a TV on your Desktop"

  The focus is on making it easy for internet television channels to be created and distributed.

  According to Mitch Kapor Chair, Open Source Applications Foundation "it will enable, for the first time, a large-scale Internet video creation and distribution platform which, because it is based on open standards and open source software, will be available to everyone"... to broadcast as well as to watch.

  17.3  The Philharmonia website includes free orchestral instrument sound samples, and the opportunity to take away and reuse samples. Sessions have been held in which the orchestra plays works sent in by composers to the website.

  17.4  The plethora of listener text and e-mail and message board input to radio programmes effectively defines playlists and associated musical comment.

  17.5  The economics of classified newspaper advertising has been uprooted and reconfigured in the USA by,,1712941,00.html and is likely to be here by it or similar initiatives. Advertising will have to find a welcomed means of entering this networked communicative and creative exchange if they are to remain effective.

  17.6  Design, Graphic Art and fashion exist as industries in the same context where an engagement with an accelerated participation and exchange of ideas is essential to remaining at the forefront of innovation.

  18.  The changing context will impact further upon many sections of the economy and the organisation of cultural and social life.

  19.  Examples from other sectors indicate what may be possible:

  19.1  An example from the computer industry is the effective use of open participative collaboration across digital electronic networks to develop, iterate and improve "open source" software. This method of collaboration across the internet has proved remarkably efficient as is shown by the success of the operating system Linux. New companies have managed to create businesses around providing services and support for the software which is available free.

  Red Hat, one such company has the US Army, City of Chicago, Ticketmaster, and Vanderbilt University among its clients.

  New businesses based on the new context include social software providers such as

  19.2  Extrapolating from this experience of "open source" has begun in a range of knowledge development areas outside software development in the form of initiatives such as and MIT's

  19.3  An example from another arena of knowledge development, science, provides further illustration. Access to high speed networks enabled the open participative form of collaboration and distributed networked work methods used in the successful public effort to map the human genome. This effort outstripped a private competitor seeking to create private IP from the endeavour within a closed network.

  19.4  Grid Computing a service for sharing computer power and data storage capacity over the internet which offers a model for solving massive computational problems by making use of the unused resources (CPU cycles and/or disk storage) of large numbers of disparate, often desktop, computers treated as a virtual cluster embedded in a distributed telecommunications infrastructure further indicate the collaborative and distributed potential and character of the new environment. computing

  19.5  A raft of new Internet sites and services is borrowing from hip-hop culture's mash-ups, which combine two tunes to produce an entirely new song. Likewise, members of the public with programming skills are combining the data and features of two or more Web sites, creating entirely new, independent Web mash-ups that in the best cases transcend either of their forebears. Heralding a new Web in which users call the shots, most mash-ups are free, non-commercial experiments who want to customize, and share their own Web experience.

  20.  Some of the implications of these and related developments have been increasingly discussed. The debate in the UK was gathered and focused by the CODE (Collaboration and Ownership in the Digital Economy) Conference organised by Arts Council England in association with Cambridge University in 2001 detail.php?sid=20&id+39

  21.  A recent example is "Wide Open: Open source methods and their future potential" Geoff Mulgan, Omar Salem, Tom Steinberg 2005 ISBN: 1841801429

  22.  In the United States the argument for preserving the innovative capabilities of the new environment has been put by Stanford University Professor of Law Lawrence Lessig (eg The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World Lawrence Lessig 2005 ISBN: 0375726446).

  23.  Eric Von Hippel of MIT has put the case for participatory economics in DEMOCRATIZING INNOVATION

  24.  Historic parallels for the debate on creativity exist.

  According to Simon Houlpt writing in the Toronto Globe and Mail (15 May 2004):

    "`All culture is recombinant. All cultural works build themselves out of pieces of other works,' says Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of the undergraduate program in communication studies at New York University. `This is what artists have been doing since we've had artists.'"

    Shakespeare borrowed Danish and Scottish legends, Leonard Bernstein borrowed from Shakespeare, and Homer's story of Troy (which has now been made into a $175-million [U.S.] film without anyone in Hollywood cutting a cheque to Homer's descendants) was itself based on myth. Warhol and other pop artists appropriated commercial icons for their paintings. Musicians record cover versions of their favourite songs as tributes to their forebears.'"

  25.  Widespread access to new media technologies has only existed in developed economies for a short time. This changing environment is still in the process of emerging. Citizens, industry, the public sector, and the whole of civic society are still adapting to it.

  26.  What is therefore not yet clear is the precise operational and organisational forms which this transformation will shape—which of the associated range of business models,—market based, commodity led, mutually based, subscription, cooperative, voluntary, charitable, and hybrid will emerge as the most efficient and effective in delivering the benefits of this new potential.

  27.  Any regulatory framework applied to creative content accessed using non-traditional media platforms ought therefore to have as a central principle allowing the free adoption of, and competition between different models, and the facilitation of innovation. The economies which will advance most rapidly to reap the advantages of new media technologies will be those which choose to adopt regulatory and legal frameworks which facilitate and support -rather than hinder- the emergence of this pluralism of forms and their free interplay and competition.

  28.  However many of the models of regulation currently proposed for the creative industries in response to the challenge of new media technologies and digital convergence are based on traditional models of closed networks seeking to innovate and develop knowledge on a "private basis" amongst the partners, to be later "consumed" by an "external audience" essentially divorced from the process.

  29.  In doing so, by attempting to impose a legal framework arising from, and essentially seeking to maintain and underpin, an economic model (and set of associated historic vested interests), arising from an earlier era of, and previous material context for, creative knowledge development and exploitation, they may be at risk of obstructing UK capacity to rapidly adapt to, innovate in response to, and gain the maximum benefit and advantage from the most significant opportunity which high-speed networks with universal access present. That is the possibility to engage and exchange with new—not necessarily foreseen- actors and collaborators, bringing their own set of knowledge/s and experiences, and to do so in new ways. With all the creative and economic potential this possibility embodies and promises.

  30.  Critically in this new space appropriate IP and creative industry business models, and new concepts of the IP value chain which reflect actual emerging practice and a broader set of participants, and which recognise the value of sharing creative content and collaborative iteration of it need to be researched, learning from them shared over time, and appropriate legal and fiscal and infrastructural frameworks to enable their freest and fullest expression developed.

  31.  Arts Council England (in particular the Interdisciplinary Arts Department at National Office) has taken a prescient and extremely valuable leading role in initiating this process. It has:

  31.1  supported two major conferences, CODE (Collaboration and Ownership in the Digital Economy) in association with Cambridge University and Music & Technology (in association with the Royal Society of Arts);

  31.2  held one-day events, such as Intellectual Property and the Public Domain Summit (with the Royal Society of Arts) and Ways of Working 2—Appropriation and Collaboration in Contemporary Arts Practice (with University of Westminster);

  31.3  supported the testing of Creative Commons licensing in the UK in collaboration with Oxford University;

  31.4  supported the development of the Open Business project in association with international partners in Brazil, Argentina and South Africa;

  31.5  supported the development of Artquest's Q&A National Pilot that provides free legal support for artists;

  31.6  are currently working on a major Artists and the Law programme, which will examine provision and developing need for legal services across arts forms;

  31.7  are working with Own-it and Artquest, on the possibility of developing a national pilot to provide legal and business support in a joined-up way across the English regions;

  31.8  are in close contact with leading intellectual property academics and specialist intellectual property units at Oxford, Cambridge, Queen Mary (London) and Edinburgh in the UK and with Stanford and Duke Universities in the US;

  31.9  all the above work is being developed in relation to the broader agenda of the "Artists Time Space and Money" project, which is examining the economic status of the artist and creative practitioner across the board.

  32.  The DTI's espousal of "Knowledge Transfer Networks" and "Collaborative R&D", and it's programme of exploration of the opportunities and challenges inherent in knowledge transfer, are in the context of the creative industries, a welcome explorative beginning of what part of a facilitating public infrastructure might constitute.

  33.  Regulatory, legal, and fiscal frameworks should take account in the arena of intellectual property of the principle of public interest as argued by the The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce in their Adelphi Charter.

  34.  The public interest lies in freedom to innovate, and to evolve business and economic and creative practices best able to rapidly adapt to a changing environment. It does not lie in attempting through imposition of traditional and outdated IP and regulatory frameworks to obstruct this capacity to adapt in a "canute" like attempt to rewind and freeze frame to an era of creative knowledge development and distribution disappearing before our eyes.

  35.  The task is to contribute to fully understanding the impact of an interconnected network culture and economy, that is both based on, and is transforming the development and distribution of creative knowledge, and to help realise its potential. Not to vainly attempt to strangle it at birth, and in the process allow others to adapt to the changing environment more quickly, and thus gain massive competitive advantage.

January 2006

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