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LSE: Creative industries not harmed by digital sharing

October 4, 2013

By Colin Mann

A new report released by the Media Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) contradicts widespread claims about the decline of creative industries as a result of copyright infringement.

The report – Copyright & Creation – A Case for Promoting Inclusive Online Sharing – shows that the gaming, film and publishing industries are growing and new business models are emerging based on digital sharing. For some in the creative industries, copyright infringement may actually be helping boost their revenues, the report finds.

Industry data shows that while the music industry has stagnated somewhat in the last four years, since 1998 it has experienced overall growth with Internet-based revenues as a significant component since 2004. In the UK, online sales now exceed CDs or vinyl as a percentage of total revenue for recorded music.

Bart Cammaerts, Senior Lecturer in the LSE Department of Media and Communications and one of the report’s authors, said that contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits. “Revenues from digital sales, subscription services, streaming and live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records.”

Citing the big rise in the use of Creative Common Licences, the report points to the ways that some creative industries are making use of, and profiting from, the digital culture that relies on access, sharing and co-creating. Its authors warn that some measures aimed at strict enforcement of traditional copyright regimes may stifle innovation and growth.

“Neither the creative industry nor governments can put a stop to cultural change that is global and in many cases welcomed, including by other segments of industry,” said LSE’s Professor Robin Mansell, another author of the report, adding that there was a need to foster recognition and economic reward for creators and for copyright legislation to underpin economic growth. “But such legislation needs to be consistent with 21st century values and practices, ” he suggested.

The report looks at evidence from other countries that have implemented strict enforcement measures against individual copyright infringers and finds conflicting data on the impact of this enforcement. The authors conclude that more independent evidence on the claimed positive impacts for the creative industries of such measures is needed before the expressive and other rights of citizens at put at risk.



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