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International Conference on the Creative Industries and Intellectual Property: Day 2
by Sofia Gkiousou
2008-05-24 08:41:49
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Another good day in London and again I descended upon the Birkbeck Clore Management Centre – in the heart of Bloomsbury, London – to watch the proceedings of the Conference on the Creative Industries and Intellectual Property.

I found the session today much more interesting – but it could be down to the fact that most of the delegates now knew each other and the chats during the breaks were getting more and more interesting. This also was of course the dreaded day where I got to present my paper to the conference. For more on that scary experience read on.

Again, I’ve been blogging about the presentations and naturally all the papers presented are in the conference website.

Copyright in the Creative Industries

The theme continued strongly today with many voices advocating a much more balanced approach to copyright instead of an exclusive reliance to IP and trademarks.

Paul J. Heald of the University of Georgia addressed the over – and under – exploitation hypotheses. According to this line of thinking there are fears that when music enters the public domain it will either become over-exploited (too much exposure) or under-exploited (eventually dying out). Paul has looked into music from 1913 – 32 and their use in cinema. From his data there is no indication that – in comparison to music that is still under copyright – public domain music is under or over exploited. What Paul underlined later was that using a public domain song has actual costs because the producer will still have to make it into a sound recording from paper.

In terms of music there was an interesting take into how we view the domain by Pedro Costa, Nuno Teles and Bruno Vasconcelos of ISCTE/ DINÂMIA. They think that a proper discussion should really distinguish between two types of music production: Mainstream (big businees, big anxiety about market) and Independent (sub-cultural groups, niche markets etc.) This echoes my discussion yesterday with Dimiter Gantchev of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Wouldn’t it be better to have a system that also protects those that elect to use Creative Commons or any alternative licensing – I asked. Apparently he is no more convinced today than he was yesterday but you never know.

As always, the question that was on everyone’s lips was whether illegal downloads are actually damaging the industry. The most interesting takes came yesterday from Marion Frenz and Birgitte Andersen of Birkbeck, University of London and today from Koleman Strumpf of the University of Kansas. Marion and Birgitte conducted a study in Canada and didn’t find evidence to suggest that users that illegally download music stop buying music product – rather the opposite. Today, Koleman echoed that remark and noted that there is a lot of unconvincing evidence circulating in the popular press. A very good point that he made concerning the falling sales of CDs and the like is that there are also third factors that affect sales like the huge growth in spending on DVDs and video games, cuts at major labels in A&R and in the number of signed artists and of course the fact that there has been no new break out genre for quite some time. So all of you creative people out there get going to discovering the new sound!

The quirky and the wonderful

Again, we heard news from some really unusual work, albeit extremely interesting.

Veronique Chossat, of the University of Reims spoke on the suggestion for author’s right and creative incentives in gastronomy. Apparently many chefs have been contemplating the idea – trying to protect their creations. However what Veronique found was that chefs actually get most of their income from books, tv shows etc. and that they invest heavily in being innovative, making a name for themselves and exploiting their reputation rather than an IP system tailored to them – which would be extremely difficult to impose and regulate either way.

Rachel Smart of Birkbeck, University of London gave a brilliant presentation on size limitation strategies that some micro design entrepreneurs use in London. She looked at the city as a design cluster and presented a marvellous collection of old maps explaining the history and locality of watchmakers, jewellers and architects in Fitzrovia and Hatton Garden. Rachel found that these entrepreneurs use a business model with combined vocational skills with creativity and innovation while they also limit the size of their business and reject briefs and projects that would probably risk their performance and good reputation.

Hye – Kyung Lee of King’s College, University of London, presented the case of ‘Scanlation’ in the Manga industry. As part of an ongoing research project Hye-Kyung is interviews a variety of manga fans that scan comics, translate them and then distribute them over the internet. Apparently in their vast majority they feel that they are helping the industry instead of hurting it and some of the literature points that way already. It seems that they engage in ‘scanlation’ only while a comic book has not officially been translated and published in a given language. When this happens then the ‘scanlators’ tend to stop distributing the material and start encouraging people to buy the official version.

The scary but lovely

As promised, dear Ovi reader, here comes a short note of the scary – but lovely – experience of my first ever presentation in an academic conference. It’s near impossible to describe the feeling but here is a good approximation: You are sitting an exam that you have studied 1 year for and you are afraid that you have forgotten everything.

My paper is an introductory discussion into Second Life identities and demographics and some observations on the Second Life fashion industry – with a view to go on to further research on the Second Life fashion system generally. My unbelievably helpful supervisor, Soo Hee Lee of Birkbeck, University of London, helps me navigate the field. Our analysis suggests that SL demographics and identity of residents may not be indicative of SL consumption and that SL fashion departs significantly from real life fashion in terms of fashion cycles, products and the characteristics of a fashion designer’s occupation.

The people attending were really supportive and most of them extremely interested. I even had an extremely interesting discussion about the meaning of the word “avatar” in Hindu religion and cultural tradition. Perhaps something I can use in the future.

This conference succeeded in bringing together a wide variety of people from many disciplines which made all the discussions extremely interesting to follow. I think the best feature of these events is that everyone is a little bit amazed at how other people approach the same issues – and from that, there can only be gain.

Congratulations have to go naturally to Dr. Anna Dempster and Birgitte Andersen for organising the conference and bringing together such and interesting mix of people.

Read all about Day 1 here: http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/3060

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