The Linked Content Coalition (LCC) and the UK Copyright Hub profiled at the WIPO Conference on the Digital Content Market In a departure from the normal “rule-making” type conference hosted by WIPO, a major conference addressing changes and challenges to the creative industries throughout the world were discussed over 2 and a half days at the WIPO HQ in Geneva, bringing together industry, CMOs, authors, and representatives of governments worldwide. Copyright was clearly shown as being beneficial to authors and the creative industries, but challenges remain. There were panels featuring music, film, broadcasting and books.
The technical framework of the Linked Content Coalition and the work of the UK Copyright Hub were profiled twice. First in a side-seminar which presented the technical side of the work to an audience of industry, tech and government with great questions and interaction to follow.
During the plenary session, Angela Mills Wade, EPC Executive Director, presented the story of why we have an LCC and the key next steps following the RDI project, followed by a presentation of the UK Copyright Hub by Dominic Young. A lively panel discussion and Q&A from the floor, moderated by BBC’s Mishal Husain followed together with Richard Hooper, Chairman of the Copyright Hub (now Hon. President), Tracey Armstrong, CEO of the US’s CCC and Elton Yeung, head of a collecting society in Hong Kong.
Further information about the conference can be found here, while find below or download Angela’s speech.
Digital architecture – The soft infrastructure of the global market
Presentation by Angela Mills Wade on the history and future of the Linked Content Coalition
April 20 – 22, 2016 (Geneva, Switzerland)
Good morning, and thank you WIPO for the opportunity to present our work.
To give you the context, I’m going to tell the story of why we have a Linked Content Coalition and why this is important for the whole of the Copyright value chain.
Ten years ago I sat in a room with a number of publishers and news agencies – from Europe and the USA, who were already, or about to go to court
to sue Google for wholesale copyright infringement for systematic commercial reuse of their text and photographs or – in some cases whole websites.
The law is clear – if you want to reuse someone else’s content commercially especially if you are a multimillion dollar corporation, you need permission, and a licence, and normally you pay for that licence.
Oh – but the internet doesn’t work like this, said the Internet community.
How can a machine to machine mediated world ‘read’ long complex licences when millions of transactions are taking place automatically in the blink of an eye.
Well, they had a point ! which set us on a different path to find an answer to their highly pertinent question.
The answer to the machine is in the machine as Charles Clark, copyright guru and former adviser to publishers said famously when book publishers too were grappling with digital developments and wholesale copyright theft.
Dominic Young who at the time worked for a large newspaper group, and who will follow me shortly worked out the answer to the machine on the way home from that meeting – which was to create simple machine readable licences. And we did just this and produced a standard way of expressing permissions for access to and use of content – and we called it ACAP – the automated content access protocol developed as a joint initiative by the European Publishers Council, the World Association of Newspapers and the International Publishers Association; non proprietary, free to use, simple to apply.
By three years later over 2000 newspaper and magazine websites from Belgium to Brazil had machine readable licences on their websites, fully tested with another search engine of the time called exalead. But Google decided that, even though they had contributed to our technical work, and their machines could read thepermissions, they decided they wouldn’t set them to do so. But this story is far from only being about Google.
Meanwhile, the policy debate about copyright at EU level was all about reforming the law – to facilitate access, research, and large-scale distribution of creative content. We too want to see large-scale distribution of digital creative content, the theme of this conference.
So when the European Commissioner for the digital market at the time, Neelie Kroes, invited Europeans to give her their big ideas for the digital single market, the European Publishers Council submitted a vision of an interoperable, machine-to-machine actionable technical framework to underpin the making available and dissemination of creative content – from images, to text, to recorded music, TV or film. Because all these sectors had been developing machine-readable identifiers for who owns what.
And some like news media and academic publishers had gone further in developing machine-readable ways of expressing terms of access and use.
The European Commission welcomed our big idea and so with their political support we put this vision into practice and formed the Linked Content Coalition to bring together all the rights data standards bodies from all the creative sectors, with the creators, and producers, CMOs and authors and software companies to develop a common, interoperable rights data framework.
We did this in a year, and published the LCC framework. But does it work asked the commission? Could you build a demonstrator? Yes we can!
And so, this time with the help of co-funding from the European Commission we did just this – with a Consortium of partners from the creative industries, collective management bodies, authors and technical partners, through a project called Rights Data Integration and our project work ended in December.
We proved that not only did the Linked Content Coalition framework work for any and all media types, but that automated licensing works too, including when you integrate rights from multiple, and multimedia sources.
This may sound very technical but what this is about is using the technology of the Internet to further the development of a legal digital content market so that copyright can work in the way that other sectors work, like banks, airlines and retail which all use identifiers hiding complexity from users and bringing huge efficiency and opportunity.
Because Google was right when they said that it was too difficult to find out who owns the rights to this, or that piece of content online, so we need to make it easy for them and all the other companies, startups and budding creators who want to make money from their own creative endeavour or by distributing another’s’ content.
The Linked Content Coalition – the LCC for short, is now a not for profit global standards consortium. The board comprises serious, global rights data standards organisations (see slide). And indeed the Copyright Hub.
The LCC framework is available for free from our website. The LCC has published a Manifesto and Ten Targets for the future, one of which I will mention here today to show how this can work not only at the corporate level but for the individual Creator.
We want to develop a standard digital rightsholder statement – so that when you upload your latest video to Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube etc. you declare your ownership of your creation at the point of entering the network – because if you don’t, you have no means in future of tracking, or marketing and monetising your own creation. You have no means of being part of a licensing network. Which leads me to my final point before handing over to Dominic Young.
Declarations of your rights, providing information about ownership, should be made easy, and easily discoverable.
This rights information should be accessible for anyone who wants to manage their rights and to anyone who wants to get a licence to use your content. Everyone should support this as there is no risk attached, not even to copyright protection.
I’m not talking about registering copyright per se, but I am talking about depositing information about rights, about ownership, and declaring these for easy discoverability in a standard form. And we need the support of organisations like WIPO to achieve this. I am especially grateful for the support we’ve had so far not only for the DG but also from the copyright law and copyright infrastructure sections.
A crucial milestone in the progress of our journey was recognition of the importance of the Linked Content Coalition by Richard Hooper and Ros Lynch– in their excellent Report on Licensing, commissioned by the British government.
This recognition brought our work to the attention of a much wider audience which has proven to be invaluable and I hope this WIPO even does the same and opens us up to yet more partners. Yesterday we heard about the blockchain in relation to music (Imogen Heap). Imagine a world which combines our approach of identifiers and metadata, a copyright hub and the blockchain technology at the service of creators and producers and users alike.
And finally in case you were all thinking that this is all very well in theory, let me hand over to Dominic Young, CEO of the Copyright Hub, to show you how this all works in practice.