Digital Copyright in Culture

AoDL Meetup
Show 'n Tell // Network // Drinks

12th April 2013, 6.30pm-8.30pm
The Photographers’ Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street, Soho, London W1F 7LW


// Line-up

- Naomi Korn, Naomi Korn Copyright Consultancy
- Smita Kheria, Lecturer in International Property Law, Edinburgh University and part of the CREATe faculty (via Skype)


// Event Description

Our session this month will examine digital copyright. How has the notion of possessing legal rights to use and distribute the ‘information’ embodied in a cultural object been challenged and reshaped by the advent of digitality? Is copyright, still, to be seen as the most obvious and natural instrument by which the creators – and financiers – of cultural products should be recompensed for their efforts, or should the qualities intrinsic to the digital domain (non-scarcity, easy circulation) transform approaches to intellectual property universally?

Artistic works used to be carried by media such as paper, vinyl and celluloid. Their movement into a state of zeros and ones caused a major paradigm shift in culture, most obviously through their capacity to be easily copied and shared. Networked forms of communication, where processes of rapid exchange and knowledge creation were actualised, intensified and accelerated this shift. The new online environment has caused a wholesale change in production, distribution and consumption processes, with every part of the ‘chain’ in question subject to change... As expressed by the recently founded copyright body, CREATe, in the creative economy there are “new types of creators, cultural products and processes; new platforms, both physical and virtual, for production and distribution; new intermediaries, finance sources and distributors (as well as disintermediation); and new engagements with consumers”.

All this has fundamentally altered our expectations of how we can access and experience art. It has changed the types of content available (legal or not), as well as the services which support it. Like it or not, art’s creative an commercial potential is de facto tied up in this change.

Clearly, there are conflicts inherent in the new status quo. Some believe the internet should be preserved as a ‘public space’: all content, that is, knowledge, should be freely accessible to all; and the remit of publicly funded organisations would certainly be to facilitate this – at least to a significant degree. Others feel that, since bringing this material to audiences takes a lot money, time and resources (and places additional pressure on already stretched organisational infrastructures), investing organisations have a legitimate right to impose limits on availability – through paywalls or other mechanisms that deploy and expand upon copyright.

The terrain is riddled with questions, for example who owns – or should own – the described license to creative works, to higher and lesser quality reproductions, or to their documentation in photographs, audio, or video form? Should all proceeds generated be shared through a simple sales income split between the producing and distributing parties?, etc. The business, rights and distribution models employed are numerous and varied and will play a fundamental role in the answers.

So, with all this in mind, who has dedicated themselves to this brain-twisting task? Well, first to presently come to mind is CREATe, an independent research project launched earlier this year and focusing on copyright and new business models in the creative economy. The BBC’s Digital Public Space programme, too, is nothing if not ambitious, working across the gamut of free and copyrighted material, public and private organisations, and at a national and international level. Is it possible to navigate such complexity through a single legal framework? Creative Commons licenses remain a popular choice, as employed by user generated content sites such as VimeoFlickr and a host of GLAM institutions, but is this really enough? And what of ‘piracy’, that elephant in the room?

AND Publishing are finding out through The Piracy Project, “exploring the philosophical, legal and practical implications of book piracy and creative modes of reproduction”. Ubuweb has always taken a devil-may-care approach: just rip it, share it and deal with the consequences later. Aaaaarg has done similar and both have amassed unique and widely used collections. Artist Cornelia Sollfrank explores Ubuweb’s underlying approaches to copyright in a recent interview with founder, Kenneth Goldsmith. It is collated here together with several other interesting voices: Artistic Research into Copyright-Critical Practice.

We’re not afraid to admit that this has turned out to be one of the toughest sessions to date for the AoDL team. It has also been interesting to note that through the release of one word alone – copyright – this session has been our most popular signup, even in advance of any description of approach, speaker list or promotion. It seems like you’re feeling up to the challenge too.

So, bring a friend, grab a beer and join the discussion

We look forward to seeing you there!


The AoDL Team


**The post-social social**

We have access to the venue until 8.30pm but hey why stop the socialising there? For those who want to continue we’ve designated a nearby pub The Red Lion (14 Kingly Street, W1B 5PR) as our ‘after hours’ watering hole.

The AoDL meetups are presented by Mute in partnership with The Photographers' Gallery and Shakespeare's Globe

About Art of Digital London

AoDL is a research programme and network that runs an online peer learning resource, regular public events, training sessions and meetings about digital strategy in culture. Over 2011 AoDL in partnership with The Photographers’ Gallery ran a series of successful discussion groups building on the thematics of its founding programme of Salons & Surgeries [masked]). Including such topics as Open Archiving and IPTV, these continue to drive a collaborative research project conducted on AoDL's Wiki resource, TheKnowledge.



Join or login to comment.

  • Jen F.

    Great event. Touched on great issues and created healthy and interesting group discussion.
    Good organisation

    April 16, 2013

  • René W.

    Excellent, as usual. But the topic is so big, it really needs another meet-up (on the same topic).

    3 · April 13, 2013

  • Tony H.

    Excellent meeting. Essential. Dynamic.

    April 13, 2013

  • Hugh P.

    excellent presentations and videos, Q&A. Might have benefitted from some more time at the end for broader discussions and conversation.

    April 12, 2013

  • Petra E.

    I am terribly sorry but something important has come up and I won't be able to come tonight. I hope somebody else can take my place.

    April 12, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm no longer able to go, hope someone on the waiting list can make use of my space

    April 12, 2013

  • Inga T.

    Sorry I'm ill, won't be able to attend

    April 12, 2013

  • Simon D.

    In bed with flu (not man flu, proper flu) so un-RSVPing, sorry.

    April 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looking forward to learning about the dark arts of copywriting.

    April 5, 2013

  • Nino Ian Balonzo N.

    Count me in..

    March 27, 2013

  • Ria S.

    My first Art of Digital event. Looking forward to it!

    February 11, 2013

  • Simon D.

    Very interested in issues surrounding copyright!!

    February 8, 2013

  • René W.

    Excellent topic - Will be there!

    February 8, 2013

  • Andy K.

    Sadly no can do, clashes with a big birthday party of mine!!!

    February 8, 2013

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