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These pages are an archive of the research project 'Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of News in a Digital Environment'. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under grant number H/L004704/1, and ran from 2014-16. The principal investigator was Professor Lionel Bently of CIPIL, collaborating with Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University. The research associate was Dr Richard Danbury. The material on these pages is a permanent record of the public output of the research.

The original description of the project can be found here.

How the project developed

The project started by reviewing what copyright-related laws had been developed or deployed in recent years with the intention of benefitting the commercial news industry. On this basis of this research, the first paper that was written, comparing developments in Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

It was presented, in various levels of development and detail:

  • at the British Academy conference at Oxford University in September 2014: 
  • as a poster at the CREATe All Hands conference in Glasgow, in September 2014: 
  • at a workshop at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, Nov 2014: 
  • at the Peking- Stanford- Oxford Internet Law and Policy Conference in Beijing, China, in Nov 2014: 

The next stage of the research considered the arguments for and against intervention in general, whether by copyright related laws, or otherwise. As part of this investigation, a workshop was organised in London with industry participants and others to discuss copyright interventions in the news industry. Additionally, a research trip to the US was undertaken in November 2015. One particular area of concern was to try and establish how history might be relevant to current debates about copyright-related laws and news – and if it is relevant, in what way, and with what limitations?

This research produced a second paper. This was presented as it progressed – again in various level of detail:

  • at the Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Study, University of London, February 2015: 
  • at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, University of Cambridge, April 2015: 
  • at the Centre for Global Communication Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, November 2015: 
  • at the Information Society Project, Yale University, November 2015:
  • at the University of Sheffield, Dec 2015: 

We then turned our attention to the question of how and in what way any copyright-related intervention would affect and engage with the laws and norms of free speech. This resulted in a third paper.

As the project progressed, in late 2015 the European Commission indicated that it was considering bringing in a copyright-related law to benefit news publishers. The Commission then issued a consultation on the 23rd March 2016, and a Q&A document. We were well-placed to respond to such a proposal. This response had three elements.

  • A presentation was made analysing the proposal at the European University Institute in Florence in April 2016;
  • An international, multi-disciplinary conference was organised in April 2015 in Amsterdam, hosted by Amsterdam University’s IViR;
  • And, drawing on this, a final report was drafted and submitted to the Commission as part of its consultation process, in July 2016.

Further work

Although the funding has come to an end, work continues on the project to turn the papers that were written into published articles. Some journals require draft articles be removed from the internet, so these may not be present on this site. They will be uploaded when circumstances permit.

Copyright note

Pursuant to the conditions of the AHRC grant, all material on these pages are © CC- BY. Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, University of Cambridge, 2016. This means that copying, sharing, redistribution and adapting of the work is permissible, but must be attributed.