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London Workshop

On the 3rd November 2015, a workshop was held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London, to discuss potential legal responses to threats to the production of news in a digital environment. The workshop was an output of a two-year study funded by the AHRC, entitled 'Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of News in a Digital Environment'. The co-Principal Investigators are Professors Lionel Bently of Cambridge University and Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University. The Research Associate is Dr Richard Danbury.

Particular attention was paid to copyright. Present were academics, representatives of news publishers, and representatives of digital information businesses. This is an account of the discussion.

The discussion was divided into four parts – first, consideration was given to general questions such as whether there is a crisis in the commercial news industry, and whether this is sufficient reason to intervene to assist the industry. The source of commercial news publishers’ difficulties was discussed, including those created by online news aggregators, ad blocking and content farms. The conversation also discussed the changing nature of online news distribution; from aggregation and search, to social media and mobile. Consideration was also given to the continued viability of subscription and sales as sources of revenue for commercial news publishers.

The second part of the discussion considered the legal difficulties in using copyright as a means to assist news publishers.

The third part of the discussion considered the experience in Spain, which has seen an amendment of the copyright law designed to benefit news publishers.

The fourth part of the discussion briefly considered the impact of freedom of speech law on any possible copyright interventions.

The text here is a summary of the discussion that took place, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the project researchers.

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