Linked Content Coalition — The answer to online copyright law woes?

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SOPA/PIPA/CISPA/ACTA. Intellectual property (IP) and copyright laws are hot right now, but none of the proposed laws are sticking. Why? What should be exercises in altruism usually provoke incendiary public outcry as these laws either threaten the fundamental tenets of the internet that made it what it is today, or reveal underlying motivations rooted in greed.

Legacy IP and copyright laws awkwardly extrapolate to the Information Age. The power has shifted. No longer do traditional media companies have the final word, instead, the internet empowers us to all have a voice. It’s uncharted territory for lawmakers and big media companies alike who are scrambling to establish order in an open system.

So many proposals for IP laws are popping up, that it’s easy to become jaded, but there are those who keep a strict vigil. Some, like the Reddit community argue that IP laws should be crowdsourced.

Then there’s the Linked Content Coalition (LCC). It’s a global content industry coalition that is embarking on a rights management project to find better ways of managing copyright in the digital economy following calls for action from the European Commission.

Executives from news media, publishing, TV, film, music, IT and internet media businesses including the RIAA, EMI, Microsoft, Hachette Livre and ITV are partnering with existing standards and licensing organisations to work in coalition on a cross-media, global solution that will hopefully result in better and easier management of IP in the online world.

It’s a valiant effort as many have argued that the reason why things are FUBAR, is that most of the proposed bills have a political bias and therefore lack an understanding of the technical real world implications.

Mark Bide, the Executive Director of EDItEUR — the global trade standards organisation for book and journal supply chains — has been working with the European Publishers Council on the establishment of the LCC. He writes, “I will say that the greatest challenge to the media lies in finding a solution to the problem of the management of copyright on the Internet. This demands the more effective deployment of technology, but also it demands that there should be a stronger political will and commercial drive.”

The LCC launches officially today, 25 April, on the eve of World Intellectual Property Day. Over the next 12 months it will attempt to create the right conditions for a standards-based rights management and communications infrastructure. This will hopefully enable businesses and individuals to go with the grain of technology to manage their rights.

Participants in the project will identify what works, what doesn’t work, what exists already and what is yet required. Technical work will be undertaken by experts from the media industry and recommendations will be made to link the various strands of rights-management data needed for the modern management of online copyright.

Neil Gaffney, Executive Vice-President-Global Services & European Society Relations at EMI Music Publishing, said: “In order to grow the digital economy for the benefit of businesses and consumers alike, a more effective and universal deployment of technology is required as soon as possible. We are very excited that this project will take us a giant step closer to realising that goal.”

He added, “It is essential that any work of this kind involves every part of the content industry and is carried out in an international context. We are delighted with the response from interested parties from throughout the media and creative industries and look forward to welcoming anyone who has an interest in online rights management for content to engage with the project.”

The LCC project has the right intentions, let’s hope something good comes of it.

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