Dominic Young
Copyright Hub

Dominic Young of the Copyright Hub checks in to provide an update on how the licensing project is going

What is happening with the Copyright Hub now, six months after its launch?

The Copyright Hub has reached an interesting moment, where the vision to create a link between content holder, the internet and a person interested in using that content, legally, has been established.

But the issue now is how the Copyright Hub gets everyone else on board. The hub would like to share and extend its idea. Our partner, Digital Catapult, wants to help us share the awareness that if someone has a good idea, we can help.

We are focusing on trying to create a world in which there are more organisations that help turn an individual’s idea into some sort of reality.

What are the challenges still facing the Copyright Hub?

There is the question of gaining momentum. The answer is to build on the work done by the Digital Catapult, and expand it to a wider community of users and open source contributors.

We are now focused on recruiting more resources to implement the technology in more applications and moving the dial much further. But we also want to understand how other companies can deploy the app, and think about its uses in terms other than copyright.

Those involved in intellectual property love copyright, but for internet users, it can be a bad word. It is always talked about negatively. It is always restrictive, it prevents, it bans, it polices. That is an odd misconception because in reality copyright is positive. For a creator, copyright offers the freedom to decide what happens to their work.

That is the liberating and positive reality of copyright. But having the right doesn’t give you the freedom unless you can use it in practice. And while the internet has transformed the business of copying and distributing content, it has done very little in the area of rights. Without the technology to make it work the way the internet works, copyright seems dysfunctional. So we’re creating that technology and inviting the internet to think of creative ways to use it.

There is a lot to chew over in terms of copyright—what it is and why it matters. Educating people about this is best done by showing them why it’s important for them. How about, for example, giving children ‘creative passports’ that can link their work to them not just at school but forever, by allowing them to create identifiers for their work and set rules for its use?

That’s an idea that might give them new ways to think about the issues, as well as being really useful. That would be better than just saying, ‘don’t copy things’. Those are the sorts of ideas we are working on.

Even when people don’t want to charge for their work, they don’t necessarily want to give up the ability to have a say on how it’s used. The point is that it doesn’t just have to be about money. There are lots of other ways that copyright is relevant and valuable, too.

So is the Copyright Hub an educational tool as much as it is an app that addresses legal rights of images?

Yes, the app can be seen as a way of tackling the copyright issue, through education. Showing people is one way we will try and make the hub technology spread.

In March, the Digital Catapult will open source its technology, which means it will be a lot easier to get hold of it and be able to partner with someone, or to help people do it.

How can the Copyright Hub be extended beyond its current remit?

Although the app starts with copyright, it is actually about connecting people and companies and allowing the owners to decide what they want to happen. It is arguably marketing in one respect.

So now, what used to be an infringing short film clip, could be licensed. The hub technology could link the clip to sources for the whole movie so someone can watch it legally. A previously illegitimate activity could be authorised, be turned into something legal, and benefit the rights owner by helping get more viewers.

Copyright is not the prize, licensing isn’t the prize. It’s about allowing the content to behave in the way the creator wants it to and seeing a positive outcome.

If we can enable this capability, then we will enable a bigger opportunity for creative industries as well as competitors to be confident that we can give them a space in which they can compete.

If the Copyright Hub limits the scope then there’s no point in creating the app, which is meant to reach people. We want to create a space in which a lot of companies and organisations can use the app and benefit from it.

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