Transcript: Copyright Is Everywhere

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Interview with Michael Healy, Executive Director, Author & Publisher Relations, Copyright Clearance Center

For podcast release Monday, October 1, 2012

KENNEALLY: In a networked world every transaction between content creators and content uses is a rights transaction. Copyright is everywhere, and though some would like to do so, no one in publishing and the media can afford to ignore the often passionate debate and the complex issues that surround copyright today. Copyright questions impose themselves on every publishing business and they affect how content is prepared, distributed, priced, acquired, used and re-used. A return to simpler times is impossible.

Welcome everyone to Copyright Clearance Center’s podcast series. My name is Christopher Kenneally, host for Beyond the Book.

Publishing today depends on technology, and technology is testing copyright laws in ways that lawmakers and lawyers never imagined when they first framed and enacted those laws. Joining me from New York City to share his thoughts on the copyright conundrum is my Copyright Clearance Center colleague Michael Healy, Executive Director, Author and Publisher Relations. Welcome back to Beyond the Book, Michael.

HEALY: Thanks, Chris. It’s good to be with you again.

KENNEALLY: Well, it’s a pleasure to have you join us. We should tell people that they can follow you on Twitter @MJHealy, and they can join you if they’re going to be going to Frankfurt on Monday October 8th, where you’ll be part of the Publishers Launch event in Frankfurt, a day-long conference featuring many publishing industry leaders, and that begins – or that takes place just ahead of the beginning of Frankfurt Book Fair.

Michael will speak on copyright concerns around the world reviewing recent copyright developments on all continents and detailing the implications for publishers and users everywhere.

And Michael, I mean, let’s start with that. I think it’s an indication of where we are in publishing. We use to call them readers, now we use that technology term users.

HEALY: Yes, indeed, we do. That’s right. And just reflecting on what you said in your introduction there, Chris, you know, there probably was a time when copyright law touched the lives of publishers very gently and very occasionally, I think it’s fair to say. And when it was safe for them to ignore what was happening in courtrooms and legislatures around the world.

At a time when an irregular and brief conversation with counsel was probably all they needed to stay on top of those things. And as I think you said in your introductions, those gentler times have passed, and probably forever.

KENNEALLY: Indeed, we really can’t go back, and I’m sure a lot of people, well, they might like to, but many more these days really see an excitement in all of this change. And let’s speak about the law because you will reviewing all that at your Publishers Lunch program. And the large general and intellectual property law in particular, as you say, features more prominently today in the daily work of publishers and authors than it ever has at any time in their careers, what is it though about publishing in 2012 that has made this so.

HEALY: Well, as I think all the listeners will appreciate, and probably as you and I discussed in the past, if you think about the ways in which content is produced, distributed and used, we recognize the enormous transformations that have taken place.

And all of that, I think it’s fair to say, has largely been stimulated by the growth of the global network, and that has had the effect of making copyrights front-page news. What was once the exclusive domain of attorneys and academics is everybody’s concern today.

And going back to those publishing leaders and CEOs that we’re talking about a moment ago, I think it’s fair to say when you talk to them today, all of them recognize, sometimes without much enthusiasm, it has to be said, that if their businesses are going to survive and indeed prosper, that prosperity and success to a very great and growing extent of them remaining closely involved in that very complex place where publishing and technology meets the law, and specifically where they meet copyright law.

KENNEALLY: Well, indeed, and this is true not only for publishers, but for everybody as you said, because we live in an information economy, and copyright helps promote the health of this global business environment. It’s a subject that we follow closely, of course, at Copyright Clearance Center. We held an entire day’s program earlier this year at Columbia Law School on Copyright 2012, much of which is still available to view online, and the subtitle for that program was the creative economy.

Tell us, Michael, from your prospective about how copyright and the creative economy are really promoting growth at this time.

HEALY: Well, there’s an endless debate right now given the economic conditions globally, and that debate is about how do we achieve economic growth in our society. And that debate recognizes, I think, that growth no longer comes from simply competing on law costs, on raw materials, or access to capital. Growth seems to come directly from our capacity to innovate. And there’s a lot of research and a lot of evidence that the companies that achieve the highest levels of productivity and the highest levels of job growth are the companies that innovate most effectively.

Now research in this area seems to be pretty clear and unambiguous: innovative companies grow faster, both in terms of sales, and employment opportunities, for example, than companies that fail to innovate.

Now, the problem, of course, is that innovation can me very expensive and very risky, so it’s vital to create the conditions in which innovation is encouraged. And that’s why intellectual property rights, whether it’s copyright, patents and trademark matters so much. Because what they do, essentially, is incentivize innovators, and they reduce the risks associated with inventing and creating new products, and this, in turn, helps to stimulate competition and growth. And that’s why the apparatus of intellection property rights have been so important in the past and continue to be so.

Now, when you look at governments around the world today, they are increasingly recognizing the vital role that copyright plays in the encouragement and the health of this new information economy as they call it. We say the European Council’s document recently called Compact for Growth and Jobs, a document that didn’t ostensively have much to do about copyright, but it did call for a general modernization of copyright.

And as a result, barely a week passes, it seems to me, when a government somewhere doesn’t launch a review of its intellectual property framework, or announces new legislation to deal with issues relating to copyright.

KENNEALLY: Indeed, Michael, it is a very active time throughout the world as far as the law and copyright is concerned.

We are talking today with Michael Healy, my Copyright Clearance Center colleague who is executive director of author and publisher relations. Michael will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair throughout the week of those events, which include not only the Frankfurt Book Fair, but he will speaking at the Publishers Launch Conference on October 8th, Monday, October 8th, talking about copyright concerns around the world.

He will also speak at the Tools of Change conference on Tuesday the 9th in the morning at 11:20 as well as on Wednesday at the Frankfurt Book Fair’s Rights Express Seminar. We’ll link to all of that on our website copyright.com/beyondthebook.

Michael, let’s continue and talk about the so-called debate about copyright that inevitably happens. It’s conducted at the variety of different levels, all sorts of participants and each with their own special prospective. Tell us about how the individual groups that represent themselves in that debate shape that discussion.

HEALY: Well, you and I talked a moment ago, Chris, about copyright being front-page news. And that really isn’t an exaggeration. It does appear in the public consciousness to an extent that many of us wouldn’t have thought possible just a few years ago. And there really is a worldwide debate going on right now around issues such as the modernization of copyright laws, the expansion or contraction of the reach of copyright. And as you were implying in your question, the debate is conducted at different levels. There is a public debate, a general consumer-led debate, if you like, and that, I have to say, is often a debate that’s very highly polarized, sometimes ill-informed, as they tend to be. But that public debate matters a great deal, I think, because of the influence it can have on framing the emerging policies of legislators and regulators.

But there’s also an expert debate and that tends to, at least in my experience, cluster around a number of very specific issues. One of the most important of these, I think, and I will be talking about this some more in Frankfurt is this intensifying discussion around the broadening of content users’ rights, and you have to imagine speech marks around the word “rights,” in this respect. And there is this debate about how far should we be broadening those rights.

And it has many different facets this conversation, one of which is the efforts to increase the provision of exceptions or limitations on copyright. And if you think about a rights holder, a publisher or an author that has innovated in the way we were talking about a little earlier.

If you are a publisher and you had extensive commercial interests in, for example, the educational and academic markets, the widening of these exceptions, the broadening of the limitations on copyright can have really far-reaching effects on the businesses that you’re running.

KENNEALLY: Well, indeed, Michael, they do. And looking forward to your discussion about all these points. Finally, let’s relate the copyright question and the legal question to the ongoing challenge that publishers face around data. And you have told me about the need to have a revolution, to see a revolution in rights data specifically. What’s the urgency there? Who or what should that revolution seek to overthrow, and what needs to replace the current regime?

HEALY: Well, it goes back to a point you made in your introduction. I think you hit the bull’s-eye when you said in your introduction in a networked world, every transaction is a rights transaction. And I think you’re right. And with that, there’s a recognition increasingly that certain basic principles have to be understood and appreciated by publishers.

First is, an appreciation of how important it is to manage rights information with much greater discipline or rigor than they did in the past.

Now, there’s been some progress in this. There is visible progress, but I think there’s a great deal more work to be done by publishers and other rights holders in this area. Many publishers still don’t see the value of organizing their rights metadata consistently or even storing it digitally.

And I think a much, much greater effort is needed, and I mean right across the industry, to promote the use of standardized metadata for collecting, organizing and communicating rights information between trading partners, and indeed, with content users.

We need, as I was saying earlier, or as you were referring to, a sort of revolution that was comparable to the one that led some years ago to the near universal adoption of ONIX for Books as a standard for communicating product information. And if you look back on it, the adoption of that standard was key to the development of online bookselling subsequently.

And I think secondly, the other point that I would make in this regard, is there’s a growing appreciation of the value of licensing for revenue and for content protection. And we’re seeing more and more of this awareness developing, but there is still some way to go, I think it’s far to say, Chris.

KENNEALLY: Well, indeed, and when we start talking about data when it comes to publishing, I think it really brings home the point that anything like the old days, the simple times, those are long gone.

HEALY: Yes, I think you’re right, and I’m glad to say they’re gone in a way.

KENNEALLY: Well, indeed, no more using shoeboxes to keep track of everything. We’re going to use the cloud, I suppose. Michael Healy, Executive Director of Author and Publisher Relations, and my colleague at Copyright Clearance Center. Thank you so much for joining us today.

HEALY: Well, thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure as always.

KENNEALLY: We’ll remind people that they can hear Michael Healy speak several times through the week of the Frankfurt Book Fair. On Monday, October 8th, he’ll joining publishing industry leaders for a day-long Publishers Launch event, and he’ll speak on copyright concerns around the world at that Publishers Launch event. On Tuesday, October 9th, he’ll speak at the Tools of Change Conference, and on Wednesday as part of Frankfurt Book Fair’s Rights Express Seminar, Michael will also be speaking.

You can join Copyright Clearance Center for a special event that the CCC is holding on Thursday October 11th beginning at 9:15. It’ll be a Discussion on Open Access with Darren Gillgrass, Managing Director of Custom Publishing for Informa Healthcare, as well as a discussion between CEO Tracy Armstrong of Copyright Clearance Center and Jane Marks, Vice President of Publishing at Wolters Kluwer Health talking about copyright compliant content delivery.

All of that information we will link to on our own website, and we look forward to seeing your in Frankfurt at one or more of those events.

Beyond the Book is produced by Copyright Clearance Center, a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after materials, including millions of books and ebooks, journals, newspapers and magazines and blogs, as well as images, movies and television shows.

You can follow Beyond the Book on Twitter, find Beyond the Book on Facebook and subscribe to the free podcast series on iTunes, or at the Copyright Clearance Center website Copyright.com. Just click on Beyond the Book.

Our engineer is Jeremy Brieske of Burst Marketing. My name is Christopher Kenneally. For all of us at Copyright Clearance Center, thanks for listening to Beyond the Book.