CREATe Research on the Public Domain Presented at WIPO

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On 16th June, Dr. Kris Erickson, Lord Kelvin/Adam Smith Research Fellow in the CREATe Centre in the School of Law, will present new research at the World Intellectual Property Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations in Geneva. As part of the Economics of Intellectual Property seminar series, the talk is open to intellectual property policy makers, economists and other stakeholders.

The research project, titled ‘Valuing the Public Domain’ is the outcome of a two-year knowledge-exchange initiative with the UK Intellectual Property Office, co-funded by the ESRC. The project was headed up by Dr. Kris Erickson and Professor Martin Kretschmer (University of Glasgow), with co-investigators Paul Heald (University of Illinois), Fabian Homberg (Bournemouth University), Dinusha Mendis (Bournemouth University). The purpose of the research was to investigate the mechanisms by which the copyright public domain adds value to the economy and society, and secondly, to quantify this value in certain specific sectors.

Activities covered by the empirical study include transmedia adaptation of public domain works by UK media firms, uptake and use of public domain materials on Kickstarter, and inclusion of public domain images on Wikipedia biographical entries. The 80-page report was published in March 2015 by the UK Intellectual Property Office and can be read in full here.

The research contributes to knowledge about how intellectual property regulation impacts economic activity in specific ways. In particular, the report highlights the importance of public domain inputs to creative production, challenging previous methods of enumerating the contribution of ‘copyright industries’ in national accounts.

The research study was launched at the offices of the Digital Catapult in London on 5th December 2014. This event drew attendees from industry, policy and the non-profit sector. Since that time, results of the study have been cited by a number of user groups including the Wikimedia Foundation. European MEP Julia Reda discussed the research during a presentation at the European Parliament on 9th March. A journal article derived from the Wikipedia study will be published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology in Fall 2015.

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Example of commercial uptake of material in the public domain. This volume of short stories in the ‘Steampunk’ genre was inspired by the public domain ‘Annals of Bristol in the Nineteenth Century’, by John Latimer. Published by Wizard Tower Press

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