Copyright Experts Discuss Future Of Content Creation, IP Protection

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Washington, DC – The state of creative industries and importance of intellectual property protection for content creators in the digital age was on display today (4 June) at the 2013 World Creators Summit (WCS) in Washington, DC. 

The fourth biennial summit, organised by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), gathered artists, academics, representatives from authors’ societies, guilds, trade organisations, and others concerned with preserving the rights of creators. The event is taking place from 4-5 June.

US as an IP Protection Leader

The global event began with perspectives on targeting online infringement from two US officials: Victoria Espinel, the US intellectual property enforcement coordinator at the White House, and Stan McCoy, assistant US trade representative (USTR) for intellectual property and innovation.

While the creative sector is regarded highly by the Obama administration, Espinel said, the administration believes there is “no silver bullet” in addressing the protection of creative content online. Rather, it is working toward a multi-faceted approach.

“We believe that if we target infringement using a variety of approaches and tools at the same time we can make some headway and reduce infringement online and protect the creativity that our artists and artists around the world create while supporting the benefits the internet creates,” Espinel said.

This multi-pronged effort is a combination of law enforcement, engagement with other countries, consumer education, and private sector initiatives. These initiatives, as Espinel described them, include: voluntary agreements by major internet service providers (ISPs) and major independent music labels and movie studios to reduce online piracy; leadership pledges from the advertising sector to not support online piracy and counterfeiting with advertising revenue from their members; creation of non-profit organisation by major American credit card and payment processing companies to target fake internet pharmacies.

McCoy supported Espinel’s assertion about the importance of IP, particularly in its relationship to the US economy, citing a Commerce Department study that reported IP-intensive industries in 2010 directly accounted for 27 million US jobs and approximately 35 per cent of the US gross domestic product.

Protecting these IP-related products, services, and industries is vital to growth and innovation, McCoy said, as he reviewed significant findings of this year’s USTR Special 301 report, which included listing Ukraine as a “priority foreign country” (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 13 May 2013). He also had strong words for China regarding lack of IP protection and theft of trade secrets.

The US will use this domestic focus on intellectual property rights protection to drive negotiations for trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“In the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, we will continue to work with TPP partners to advance state-of-the-art, high-standard provisions that will protect and promote the spread of IP-intensive products and services throughout the entire region, to the benefit of producers and consumers in all TPP countries,” McCoy said.

The TPP reportedly has shown little sign of a resolution by the end of 2013 (IPW, Bilateral/Regional Negotiations, 20 May 2013), but McCoy gave no indication of when it might be completed. He did say that consultations around the TPP last year shaped a 2012 proposal that will ensure, for the first time in any US trade agreement, provisions “be consistent with the internationally-recognized 3-step test to seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”

Beyond the TPP and the TTIP, McCoy said that the president’s trade policy agenda for 2013 will continue to “identify and resolve intellectual property rights issues and related market access issues of concern.”

Consumers: The Problem and Solution

Many discussion panels throughout the first day focussed – with love and contempt – on one group: consumers.

Several panellists touched on what they called a “sense of entitlement” by consumers in a growing digital age that want everything, all the time, and at their price point. So as an artist, how do you resolve this issue? Make easy options inconvenient and make legitimate services more accessible, experts said.

HarperCollins Publishers’ Chief Digital Officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi said she has seen unauthorised content decline in the publishing industry as a result of legal alternatives.

“The more choices consumers have, the more opportunities we have to monetise and increase the value of your content,” she said.

Restivo-Alessi also endorsed new models of thinking about legal consumption and that “only by participating in the dialogue do you have a chance to stand in front of piracy.”

Education was another answer. It appeared that consumers’ lack of awareness about the effect of their consumption was a significant downfall for content creators.

“Users that don’t want to pay thrive on confusion,” said Nicholas Motsatse, chief executive officer of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), a collective management organisation for performing and mechanical rights.

“We need to educate consumers so they know that when they use illegal means, they are affecting artists’ income,” African singer and songwriter Angélique Kidjo said. Kidjo, who pointed out that African creators remain underrepresented at events like the World Creators Summit, said that the internet is largely used to reach consumers. But in Africa, she said, “we don’t have great access to the internet. We need to carve out laws that allow young artists to have work on the internet without being hijacked.”

BRICS’ Role in the Digital Economy

Initial findings were presented at the event from a CISAC-commissioned report on the state of creative economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). Including some of the world’s largest countries and fastest-growing economies, many opportunities have been seen for the creative sector in these countries.

The report analysed the current status and value of creative industries in BRICS countries and the policies in place to enhance or damage these industries. Findings showed a correlation between the IP environment and creativity, showing that the weaker the IP environment, the weaker the creativity. The full report will be published later this summer.


Kelly Burke may be reached at

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