As you may have seen, the European Commission released its proposals for the Digital Single Market last week. If you’re interested in that kind of thing you have probably already read screeds of stuff about it in various places.
I did want to mention one thing, though, which is significant for our project. On page six of their action plan, they say “The Commission will also… further promote tools to bring more European works into the single market, including the creation of ready-to-offer catalogues of European films, the development of licensing hubs (to help the licensing of works that are not yet available in a given Member State), and a larger use of standard identifiers of works… (emphasis added)
That’s not a coincidence.
As it happens I was in Brussels last week at a conference for the end of the RDI Project, and a senior commission official who was there drew our attention to the empahsis the Commission is putting on improving the capabilities of technology and investing in the basic infrastructure needed for it to function at scale.
We’re not a lobbying organisation but we do brief the Commission regularly so that they are aware of our work and can factor it into their thinking. It seems that this, alongside the work of LCC and RDI, has left its mark and we should be very encouraged that we are being, well… encouraged by them.
It also points to the critical issue facing the Hub in its next phase of work.
Achieving critical mass and growing rapidly was always the approaching issue for the Copyright Hub. During the early phase, while we were building the common technology required by everyone, more resource wouldn’t really have helped much so we focused on rather a long pipeline of willing implementors to build on the foundations once complete.
Now that we’re getting to the end of that phase, with open source release scheduled for March 2016, finding the resource to build that pipeline of implementations, and more, is the key to success.
We should all be buoyed up by the recognition the Copyright Hub project continues to get around the world. Our challenge is now to scale up and help implement the applications in the queue. We have strong supporters willing us to succeed, but we need the resources to be able to address the multiple opportunities in front of us.
We’re working on several ways to do this.
The Digital Catapult, which has been working away on basic technology for nearly two years, has spent £1.2m of their government grant on this already.
We have this year made a proposal to the UK Government, who have commissioned a business case study to help inform their decision.
We’re also talking to other governments and considering various ways of encouraging more commercial investment in the opportunities our project creates.
We continue to request donations from all sectors of the creative industries and remain grateful to our funders, who have brought us this far.
We are in the threshold of something that can transform the sharing of content on the Internet. A big idea, but actually within our grasp. Your support brings it closer.