Tags AV Archives, Copyright, Monetised Content, Video Production
Thanks to Claire Harvey, Aframe's Head of Archive for this post.
The eG8 Forum in Paris (24-25 May 2011) pulled in the glitterati of the Internet World. Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Lessig, amongst others, debated the future of our networked society and passed on their observations to the ensuing G8 meeting. Quite a coup.
The internet is threatening the hegemony of global governments. Twitter has fanned the flames of revolution in the Middle East, and has brought privacy laws in the UK to their knees. Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Spotify (and there are many more) are game changers, significantly reshaping how we live and work.
How should the powerful nations of the G8 respond? At the eG8, Sarkozy applauded the game changers, and then asked them to behave responsibly. The shadow of regulation loomed as Speaker after Speaker challenged Governments at national and international level not to regulate, because to regulate would obstruct innovation and the next generation of game changers.
Lawrence Lessig from Creative Commons, in an extraordinary speech, asked that Governments “embrace open and free access”. The internet game changers, he suggested, are outsiders who have disrupted established industry players. He urged Governments not to bow to the power of the existing industry lobby, and restrict the potential of disruptive technologies.
Global consulting firm, MacKinsey, published research during the eG8 suggesting that for every one job lost through efficiencies created by the Internet, 2.6 jobs were created to support new revenue streams. That kind of statistic is particularly attractive in these dark days of recession and debt. Do these kinds of figures make it worthwhile to support disruptive technologies to the potential detriment of existing companies?
Copyright is a key area in this debate and particularly relevant to AV archives. As we know, legally licensing audiovisual content is a pain. Most archives are drowning in complicated legal documents that make it difficult to sell their content, that block the market and perversely, stimulate content piracy.
The Hargreaves Report in the UK (18 May 2011) acknowledged: “Could it be true that laws designed more than three centuries ago with the express purpose of creating economic incentives for innovation by protecting creators’ rights are today obstructing innovation and economic growth? The short answer is: Yes.”
The Report suggested a raft of measures designed to ease the process of licensing content, urging current media companies to change to embrace these measures. Critics have argued that the Report favours the development of potential disruptive technology ventures, such as the future Spotifys, YouTubes and others, over current practices within existing media companies of licensing and monetizing content.
In the same week, the EU Commission proposed new legislation that would provide lawful, cross-border online access to orphan works. This has the potential to liberate significant archives across Europe for access and monetisation.
The impact of these three events on AV archives could be profound. Combined, they challenge the existing business models of most AV archives. But, they could also open up the landscape to a raft of new business models. And who are best placed to take advantage of this? None other than AudioVisual archives.
Of the 38 million hours of AV archive content globally, only 1% of the content is monetised (Screen Digest 2010). To license a 10 second clip of archive content, there are up to 100 different prices that could be paid - and that’s for rights-ready content that is easy to use. Licensing premium content with third party rights? Forget it. Whilst we shouldn’t roll over to give away content for free, we need to make it easier to sell our content, and so, we have to support the attempts to free up our ability to make our archive content accessible, and to create a revenue stream from it.
Will that improvement come with regulations such as the HADOPI rule in France, and the recent Google ruling in Germany? HADOPI is among the most draconian in the world, including a “three strikes” law that would have internet service providers deny online access to repeat offenders.
As Sarkozy said at the eG8: “Each of you should be able to be heard because each of you undertake creative work. It is under this copyright law for creative work that you have been able to found companies that have become empires. These algorithms that constitute your power, this continual innovation that constitutes your strength, this technology that is changing the world, are your property and nobody can contest that. Each of you, each of us, can therefore understand that writers, directors or actors can have the same rights."
In Germany meanwhile, a Hamburg court ruled in 2010 that YouTube should pay compensation after users uploaded several videos of Sarah Brightman. Arnd Haller, director of legal affairs at Google Germany, said the court ruling disregards the current e-commerce directive of the European Union: “This decision results in a substantial legal uncertainty for all providers of video platforms, opinion forums, social communities, blogs and many other internet services in Germany.”
The good and the bad news is that Pandora’s Box has been opened and it seems that the world of content is pitched against the ever-developing world of tech - which feels rather old fashioned in our modern converged society. Surely we should be working together to develop new and easy-to-use innovative copyright and pricing structures that enable us to generate new revenue streams? The archive world is ideally placed to bridge these worlds. It sits neatly across tech innovation, and cultural and creative expression. The Europeana project is an expression of this, and everyday archives push the boundaries of what can be achieved in how technology can create innovation in content access, use and monetisation. In the UK, the Hargreaves Report creates an environment in which this work can flourish. We must continue to push these boundaries to deliver practical solutions for content licensing globally that lets us innovate, grow and prosper.