Sunday, January 25, 2015

Intellectual Property and Production - workshop in Law, 24.1.2015

at Wolfson College, 25 Jan 2015
Organised by Center for Intellectual Property and Information Law

Jennifer Davies introduced the workshop (6th in a series run by CIPIL ) and reminded attendees this was about production (and place!)

Session 1: Producing Output, led by Lionel Bently

Tanya Aplin: 'The Impact of Prosumers on Photojournalism' - this talk mapped out how the massive rise of amateur photography and the ubiquitous presence of cameras (especially in phones) had given rise to the de-skilling of the area of photojournalism, starting especially in disasters and emergencies (Katrina, Tsunami, Arab Spring etc), where classical photojournalists might not be on the scene for days in any case, but now supplanting every day coverage of events. The talk then went on to the new businesses that had arisen to "professionalise" the contributions by the public, and new agencies that would find takers for pictures and pay producers (albeit massively less than the famous photojournalists of yore).

Great talk - i think to be fair, the "professionals" always over-stated the skills you need to be a good journalist - many amateurs are massively better than many paparazzi - see my friend tim harris photos - he's a research leader at Oracle labs....this is also true of bloggers - for example my local kentish town blogger produces more timely and better job than the main traditional local newspaper (in my view:)

Alan Durant: ‘Kinds of Work in Copyright: a Semantic Perspective’

This was a foundational take on the triptych "Original Literary Works" unpicking the individual and combined meanings over history and showing how ambiguous the terms sepeaately and together were and still are. THis has important consequences for public and other stakeholders understanding of the relevant law!

Hye-Kyung Lee: ‘Media fans as new cultural intermediaries’

This was about fan contributed works with a new spin - the Manga translators - fandom who take japanese and korean comic art, and produce versions for other markets! Again (as with the first talk in this session) the emergent business models have first been squashed, but then embraced and extended by the original Manga production houses. Fans reactions vary (as you would expect) from approval to "uncool" - also, interestingly, cultural differences mean that Chinese reaction is quite different than other countries in this regards. I asked if anyone has tried personality profiling (c.f. psychometrics facebook app in cambridge) to see what sort of people enjoy these activities - is it mostly about fame, social capital, etc - inclusion - etc or do some really want to make it like their heroes in the original comics? or a mix (changing over time). Was reminded of two related stories. (Anecdotal) - 1/ The Dr Who fan contributed plots and characters were threatened with a lawsuit for copyright reasons, but then it emerged some of the writers of Dr Who had been reading the site, and may have inadvertently used material and fans suggested that they might countersue - so a quid pro quo was reached:) 2/ My cousin was teaching computer science in Brasil and translated US text books by reading then speaking aloud in portuguese, to a dictation/speech to text system (Dragon Dictate) - students bought the original book, so there's no loss to publishers or authors, but were given handouts of the text part in their own language.  Publishers became interested (low cost way to get foreign language editions of books....and discover markets).

This element of fan led A&R seems like an obvious way for producers of new work who live in the "long tail" of the popularity distribution to find their market, and for new fans to find content. Seems like a good thing - for a given area, it may not be a zero sum game  although over all content, I guess the population does have a finite disposable income. However, this new mode may lead to a wider breadth of availability, perhaps at the expense only of the few people at the very tip of the popularity (U2, Beyonce might lose a few percent of their gazillions) - maybe Thomas Pikety will approve!

Session 2: The Means of Production (I) led by: Ian Walden

Jon Crowcroft: ‘Software Tools and Die’
here's my talk which is mostly just about how we write software but also a plea not to do s/w patents (the clever bits are just math) and how copyright is ok, but there's lots of different uses (license models) which can all work (and co-exist)

Catherine Seville: “Controlling the Production of Literary Works: Hard
Then, Impossible Now?

This was a fascinating talk about the ways in which the technologies for production have always seen (mostly failed) attempts to control - from limited access to printing press, to control of rights to publish, through to DRM etc - really interesting...

Simon Eliot: ‘From 'Literary' to 'Commercial' in the Registry Books of
the Stationers' Company

Beautifully read and presented talk about this history and hilariously incompetent antics of rhe Stationers' company (registry for all things trademarkish) esp in the 19th century, which some fabulous graphic examples of Victorial graphic design for a wide range of useful, daft, and sentimental works. Sheer diversity of display is astonishing.

Session 3: The Means of Production (II) led by: Andrew Griffiths

Sean Bottomley: ‘Trade secrecy and production during the late
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.’

Lovely talk about Worshipful socieiies and their control of their magic pixie dust techniques-  interestingly, the use of sanctions against people for revealing these tricks to "foreigners" (i.e. non guild members) was relatively rare in practice.  It makes you wonder why the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists was set up - What have they got to hide???

Dev Gangjee: ‘Why Wine is Not a Commodity: Geographic Indications,
Place and Process’

Great talk as with all the talks, really well presented and clear) on "terroir, and the way GIs are being used more and more, and yet have very little public recognition yet (outside of the original "Appelation Controle) - I asked the questions a) how "little britain" is all this and b) can you have a GI for "produced near here" for any definition of here (i.e. eco-didn't fly far food) - answer, yes...

Theresa Lopes: ‘Trademarks and Production of Consumer Goods from an
Historical Perspective’

Great econometric analysis of a large body of data from several places showing how IP protection trends track a) innovation b) the economic growth/shrinkage - a lot to take in - hopefully, we get some slides/paper post workshop!

Session 4: Geographical Delineation, led by Session leader: Graeme Dinwoodie

Sun Thathong: ‘A Marxian interpretation of the traditional knowledge
debate: the role of IP in the
coexistence of primitive and capitalist modes of production.’

Fun stuff -not quite as alarming as it sounds - basically, traditional knowledge is folk lore and crafts embedded in simple societies and held in common. It is being ram-raided by developed countries profit led companies (most obviously, plant medicines in rain forests being patented by big Pharma). This is about the moves to try and figure out a range of IP models that will appropriately recompense those "simple" societies (which, if course, are never so simple). Main bug is the hilariously naive Marxian description of primitive communism, which an anthropologist would have a field day with (literally and figuratively), but the model economically is good.

Here I had to leave to go to a memorial Mass for my brother in law, Declan McKeever
so I missed one of the organisers papers, which was a shame as it was
foundational to the main purpose of the workshop:

Jennifer Davis: ‘The End of Trade Marks as an Indicator of Place and
the Implications for Labour’

Graham Dutfield: ‘The compulsory working of patents and developing

Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan: ‘From Local Manufacture Rules to Import
Barriers in Global Production Chains’