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The Rambler :: blog

Friday, June 24, 2005

UK Creative Industries Discussion Forum 

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The new Creative Industries Minister for Great Britain, James Purnell has been busy recently. His recent speech to the IPPR is bound to make plenty of waves. It's full of wince-worthy lines like "Britain is arguably the world’s most creative nation. ... At the time of writing, Coldplay is the number one album on the i-Tunes store in the US" and "a Webby, the prestigious Oscars of the Internet world", painting a picture of world in which the web is something that happens to other (possibly strange) people, and Coldporridge symbolise the best of British creativity.

Oh, and if you're eating, push that plate away. "We want to return to the ideas behind Cool Britannia." *shudder*

But actually there are some serious issues behind all this, which I will no doubt mull over in future postings. Not least of which is the fact that this is the launch of a national debate on the arts in Britain, and their relationship to both industry and education. Among other things, Purnell is setting up a study into the value of setting up a music council (probably good), which will "work with the government on key issues such as piracy and regulation" (boo!). There was also a further promise to "modernise" copyright and IP protection. Obviously your expectations of this will depend entirely on whether you are a modern industrial megolith* or a modern artist or consumer.

Anyway, the main thing to headline here is the setting up of an online discussion forum in which Purnell invites views on how to build on the success of our (ugh) 'Creative Industries'. To participate, send an email to ciforum AT culture.gsi.gov.uk; someone will get back to you with a password, and away you go. Although I suspect many of the posts will be from arts industry heavyweights, I'll be earwigging nonetheless. Of particular interest will be the thread on Copyright in Recordings, something that the Sunday Times devoted an article to a couple of weeks ago in a trail for Purnell's speech (although in the end he didn't make any specific reference to the issue). Purnell's provisional line - although he is testing the industry waters on this - is that the copyright in valuable 60s recordings is essential for the industry to support new talent.

This does beg the enormous question, then how did the 60s boom happen? On the copyright in piano rag sheet music? I don't think there's any doubt that the major players will be delighted with the opportunity to extend their copyrights from 50 years to 90+. If you owned the Beatles back catalogue, wouldn't you be? However, most musicians probably agree that over-zealous copyright and IP regulation stagnates the industry. Jazz or hip hop, to name but two genres, would not have come about if everyone took the batten-down-the-hatches route the industry advocates. And don't try to tell me that the industry would rather none of those records had been made...

Oh, you've all heard my views on this stuff before. The forum is about more than just music copyright, but it will be interesting to see how it develops as a reflection of what actually bugs consumers and industry alike. Stay posted.

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*Is it oxymoronic to call the RIAA, BPI et al modern?


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