Extracted from a speech delivered by Victor Finn, CEO IMRO, at the IMRO sponsored Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) Annual Conference in Dublin on 3rd April 2012.

2012 is an important year for all those involved in the creative sector. You may all be aware the government is engaged in a review of copyright and has established an expert committee to this end. Copyright it seems is to have its day in the sun – or is it?

The Review Committee are asked to, and I quote

“…Identify any areas that are perceived to create barriers to innovation”

…a rather strange question is it not? Creativity and innovation go hand in hand, do they not? Copyright is the means by which creativity and by extension, innovation are rewarded.

The creative sector is at the forefront of innovation. Yet the terms of reference seem to imply that certain conclusions are already drawn. The terms of reference are negatively framed suggesting that copyright somehow impedes innovation.

The Copyright Review Consultation paper recently issued states that:

“The internet particularly encourages interactive user innovation”

It seems to suggest that innovation is the exclusive preserve of the technology sectors. There appears to be a fundamental miss-understanding of the role and the value of the creative sectors at certain levels. Do our decision makers truly understand the value and potential of the creative sector in Ireland?

This may be, in part, our own fault. We have failed to establish the value that creators in the arts and entertainment fields bring to the economy. We have all basked in the many successes of our artists, songwriters, authors, film makers and others over the years. But have we fully understood how this success has come about?

Of course much creative endeavour is achieved without the specific objective of commercial success. Nonetheless the creative industries have managed to deliver much needed economic activity at home and overseas and have done more than any other sector of our society to create a very positive image of Ireland. This is even more important today given the rebuilding of trust that we must undertake as a nation.

The diversity and quality of music in Ireland is the most important ingredient in fostering our reputation as a dynamic and culturally rich nation. This can best be achieved through a partnership of individuals who create the copyright material, government who support these creators through the implementation of copyright law and private organisations who assist the creators in maximising the value of their copyright material.

And, yes of course, we need and welcome the new innovative technology companies locating in Ireland. Ireland welcomes all the foreign direct investment, jobs and the attendant benefits to our economy.

Yes we value the new business opportunities that the Internet delivers to the creative sectors.

Yes we support the government in maximising these opportunities to the benefit of the country at large especially in these times of economic recovery.

But we need to achieve all of these aspirations by achieving a balance between innovation and reward.

Copyright – at its most basic level is simply a means to reward creativity. Creativity is innovation. Creativity can never be construed as a barrier to innovation.

The future for music is in broadcast, in online, on mobile and cloud platforms, all offering growth prospects. Growth will be created through partnerships between creative industries and technology companies, not by these sectors being placed in opposition to one another. Respect and reward for innovation go hand in hand with copyright protection, promotion and enforcement.

And that is the real problem for industries depending on intellectual property – enforcement.

How can Ireland expect to attract creative industries and to act as a digital copyright exchange, as suggested in the Copyright Review, if we do not provide an environment that both respects and protects the commercialisation of such assets? Promoting Ireland as a location for the International Copyright Exchange on the one hand, while simultaneously relaxing the laws of copyright on the other is inconsistent and sends mixed messages to potential investors.

We look forward to engaging fully with the governments review and so that both our sectors can deliver real and lasting benefits to the Irish economy.


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