Report: LSE Recommends More Collaborative Digital Culture

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has released its “LSE Media Policy Project Brief” as a policy analysis of the digital media industry. It counters claims that media industries’ revenues are in overall decline, points to successful new businesses that are based on sharing, and questions copyright enforcement efforts. The brief also makes recommendations that the British government should halt the Digital Economy Act of 2010.

“Taking total revenues of the music industry into account — i.e. including revenues from concerts and publishing rights, these revenues have not declined as dramatically has been suggested; they have increased considerably from 1998 to the 2000s,” suggests the LSE Media Policy Project Brief. “These revenues have stagnated in the last few years, but the claims of many in the music industry about a dramatic decline in revenue apply specifically to the sale of CDs and vinyl.”

Revenue from online sales in music, Internet radio, and others are increasing, with particular growth in new areas such as streaming and subscriptions. If the music industry had begun to adapt to digital music and new business models earlier, the industry may have achieved growth sooner, suggests the LSE report.

Other industries are also growing. The gaming industry is prospering and has been successful in creating new sources of revenue such as developing combinations of advertising, in-app purchasing, and micro-pricing. The publishing industry is performing well with a total worth of $102 billion, although book sales have declined but are offset with e-book sales.

The brief favors a more inclusive and collaborative “digital culture.” “Insisting that people will only produce creative works when they can claim exclusive ownership rights ignores the spread of practices that depend on sharing and co-creation and easy access to creative works; this insistence privileges copyright owners over these creators,” says the report.

In regards to enforcement measures against copyright violators, the targeting of specific individual users is unlikely to reverse the trend of online sharing culture. There is also a critical need for independent verification of claims of damages to media companies as a result for a copyright infringement.

“We recommend a review of the DEA and related legislation that strikes a healthy balance among the interests of a range of stakeholders including those in the creative industries, Internet Service Providers and Internet users,” explains the LSE. “Fitting the digital sharing culture and new forms of cultural production into a copyright enforcement model that is out of touch with today’s online culture will only suppress innovation and dampen growth.”

“Broader ‘fair use/fair dealing’ provisions, proposals for private copying exceptions and aiming copyright enforcement and prosecution at infringing businesses instead of at citizens who share online is likely to have the desired effect of balancing the interests of the creative industries and citizens,” notes the brief. “When both can exploit the full potential of the Internet, this will maximize innovative content creation for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The full report can be found at the LSE website.