26 May 2006

IPR in New Media: b.TWEEN06

Catch up time! So much has happened. Where should I start?

I've just spent a really interesting two days as a sort of speaker at large at the b.TWEEN06 new media fest at the National Photographic Museum in Bradford yesterday and today. I was there to conduct one-to-one sessions on intellectual property issues.

The conference was opened by David Putnam who told a parable about a boat race between GM and Toyota. Toyota won by a mile largely because their crew had 8 men rowing and only one steering in contrast to the GM team which was the other way round. The parable continued with the US team flattening their management for the next race with the effect that there was still only one oarsman. This time the Japanese won by 2 miles. GM sacked its oarsman and distributed the research and development money saved on stock options for its directors.

Lord P was followed by John Sanborn, Creative Director of eBay, Inc, who could at least appreciate a good joke at his nation's expense. He had developed a new eBay service called eBay Express which will sell new products at fixed prices. It is already operating in the USA and will come here soon.

It was a very full programme with discussions on funding, commissioning, collaboration, innovation, new technology and much much more. Two particular presentations particularly impressed me - an overview o Indian history, culture and geography by Ved Sen of ThinkPLANK a sort of convergence strategy company and Matt Lock of BBC New Media on the Innovation Labs project.

One thing that was great fun for me though perhaps not for Gez O'Brien of StarDotStar who partnered me was a pitching competition to redesign the National Photographic Museum. Gez put in a really good bid which I tried to support. We didn't win but that was because we were up against the fairy Tinkerbell. Another really good thing was b.tween2cultures a cross-cultural dialogue between China and the UK produced by talented Chinese artist Yang Lei. I really enjoyed the event and learned a lot.

So far as we IP lawyers are concerned I think the essential message is that the industry appears to be relying on technical rather than legal means of protecting its investment in technology and content. Content is shared and collaborative which means that it is up to the collaborators rather than the publisher to protect their rights if they seer the need. I was asked a few questions on patenting but most people wanted to know more about ascertaining and clearing digital rights.

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