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c&binet forum - summary of discussions from the first morning

C&binet | 27 Oct 2009, 13:39

A call to unleash the full extent of Europe’s creative potential ended this morning’s session – one that began by addressing as unproductive the ‘deafness and shouting’ around piracy that has dominated discussion up to now.

Creative Industries minister Siôn Simon, Dame Gail Rebuck of Random House and Chris Clarke of Sapient Nitro debated the shades of grey between the polarised opinion, with a consensus emerging on the necessity of moving forward on a range of fronts – new business models, acceptance of consumer’s mindsets, and proportionate action to protect rights holders.

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Vivendi’s Jean-Bernard Levy, interviewed by Amanda Andrews, set out how his company is successfully straddling the content production and distribution worlds, declared the album not dead and dropped a teaser for things to come – gaming guitar heroes exchanging virtual axes for virtual decks with DJ Hero.

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Wired’s David Rowan then drew out visions for the near future from the Creative Infrastructure panel – all-seeing, all-knowing TV that responds like a Wii, protective walls around creative businesses coming crashing down, and sexed-up meta data.

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The rights issue returned, with Ashley Highfield contrasting the easy march of technological progress against the complexity of liberating content for future exploitation. That before David Rowan asked if piracy isn’t dead in the face of the opportunities opening up for creative leaders prepared to take risks and sail into choppy waters.

As a curtain-raiser for Lord Mandelson’s speech tomorrow, intellectual property minister David Lammy had a dream of a clear, fair and reasonable future where ‘freedom of access is not the same as access for free.’

Odile Quintin, the EU Director General for Education and Culture closed this morning’s session with a call for greater partnerships between the creative industries and educators to unleash the full extent of Europe’s creative potential.

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The response so far to the event from the online community has been tremendous, with #cabinetforum trending at one point during the session.

Many thanks. Stay with us for Elio Leoni-Scetifrom EMI Music restarting proceedings before discussions on Free Content and Scale, Risk and Investment.

China / US trade dispute lends urgency to piracy challenge

Valerie | 17 Aug 2009, 13:49

China is “actively” getting ready to appeal a World Trade Organization decision that calls for it to end restrictions on the import of US film and music products, a decision which could see diminishing demand for pirated goods.

The WTO panel said last week that China’s import and distribution regime for books and films violates international trade rules and should be revised. The Chinese import restrictions have been blamed for making fewer legal goods available and thus helping pirates profit and proliferate.

The US welcomed the WTO ruling as a “significant victory to America’s creative industries” which would help open up Chinese markets for everything from magazines to movie blockbusters as well as curbing rampant intellectual piracy, highlighting the increasing global importance of the Chinese market.

As this article argues, there is still a long way to go in a country where a pirated DVD is easily available for a third of the price of a movie ticket — often before the movie opens in Asian cinemas. It argues that the strictest enforcement of intellectual property laws are needed before US companies can reap big benefits.

The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) said last year that more than 99 percent of all music files distributed in China are pirated, and the country’s total legitimate music market, at $76 million, accounts for less than 1 percent of global recorded music sales.

Google and global music labels launched an advertising-supported free music download service in March to compete with pirates, a service it does not offer anywhere else in the world. The move was widely seen as a bid that the demand for music downloads would raise its profile in China, where it trails search leader Baidu.com. However, it is also the first serious attempt to monetize the online market in China .

Kai-fu Lee, the president of Google Greater China, said:

“This is a huge leap of faith for us. We hope this will move the landscape to a legal model.”

Digital Britain Summit – Equipping Britain for a digital future

Valerie | 17 Apr 2009, 08:58

Leading thinkers in the Digital Economy are gathering at The Digital Britain Summit today at the British Library to debate how best to equip Britain for a digital future.

The event will give stakeholders an opportunity to listen and debate the interim report’s recommendations and ensure all views are considered before the final report is published in the summer.

Speakers including telecoms CEOs Ian Livingstone, Neil Berkett and Ronan Dunne, technophile Stephen Fry, Universal Music’s Lucian Grainge, Johannes B. Larcher from Hulu, Hirouki Hishinuma from the Japanese Government and Will Hutton, Chief Executive of the Work Foundation, will join 250 industry leaders to address how to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, Sly Bailey (Chief Executive, Trinity Mirror) and John Fingleton (Chief Executive, Office of Fair Trading) will deliver keynote speeches.

Key issues to be discussed today in the four panel sessions include:

• Preparing for tomorrow’s digital networks today: looking at infrastructure issues that will determine the UK’s readiness to fully exploit the dramatic shift to digital technology

• The New Digital Arms Race: different approaches around the globe to achieving a successful digital economy

• Joining the dots between creativity and digital content: matching technical innovation with the development of business models that enable content creators to flourish on these new platforms

• Equipping our society for the digital future: ensuring that the benefits and advantages of the digital economy are available to all

You can watch the Digital Britain event live and follow the debate via the Digital Britain summit live blog and submit comments as well as questions for the speakers and panel at the Digital Britain Forum website.

You can also follow proceedings via the Digital Britain twitter feed or tweet questions to @digitalbritain.

Distributor ‘gamble’ on Slumdog pays off

Nick | 23 Feb 2009, 21:47

When Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire swept the board the Oscars last night, not many were surprised. However, in many ways it might have also been a somewhat unlikely contender.

How Slumdog nearly ended up being distributed direct to DVD is one of this awards season’s most told anecdotes, but as Variety journalists Pamela McClintock and Ali Jaafar note: “Slumdog Millionaire is the ultimate independent film, proving a bonaza for foreign distributors gambled on the project even when [its] domestic release was in doubt.”

Produced for $15 million, box office watchers now believe Slumdog is heading for an international take of $200 million. An executive at Fox Searchlight, which stepped in as a distributor when Warner Independent Pictures pulled out, comments: ”These films are important because they defy conventional wisdom and show that someone can do something completely original and succeed, when so much of the movie industry has been commoditized.”

The commercial challenges aside, Marc Graser notes: “The awards are [also] significant because Slumdog’s dominance this year points to the increasing globalization of Hollywood – and the Oscars. Pic’s director, Danny Boyle, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, and producer Christian Colson hail from Britain, it has a mostly Indian cast and it found its first success in America. One-third of it is in Hindi and thus makes the first claim for a foreign-language film to take the best pic prize.”

Slumdog’s path to success, via rave reviews from early screenings at the Toronto Film Festival, demonstrates how difficult it can be for investors in the creative industries to evaluate risk. It also highlights the importance of industry networks and word-of-mouth in making sure the right projects get the attention and investment they merit, wherever they are in the world.

- UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented this morning on British Oscar success:

“I am incredibly proud of the Oscar success of Slumdog Millionaire and Kate Winslet, and I congratulate everybody who has contributed to the success… Britain is showing it has the talent to lead the world. I think we should be very proud of what are great British successes. It shows that Britain is leading the world not just in film but fashion, music and design - and long may that be the case - as a result of the great talent that we have,” he said.

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