Jane McInness blogs about the music industry, as well as writing for Imagem Production Music.
While the digital age has bought more opportunities for musicians, the losses have been well documented, one of which is the increasing propensity unlicensed music usage. In many such cases, broadcasters claim they simply haven’t been able to contact the relevant people, or lacked the knowledge of what was expected of them. Founded in July this year, the government backed organisation nicknamed ‘The Hub’ is attempting to change this, by offering a dedicated information portal for copyrights here in the UK.
Accessing creative content fairly legally and simply is what the Hub’s all about: it’s the most comprehensive solution yet for streamlining what can be a difficult process, and with its focus on some of the idiosyncrasies of the digital age we think this is the best solution yet to getting more musicians paid.
The Basic Idea
As mentioned in the Hub’s report Streamlining Copyright Licensing for the Digital Age, the Hub is proposed as a UK based portal which will “link via spokes interoperably, scalably and intelligently to the growing national and international network of private and public sector digital copyright exchanges, rights registries and other copyright-related databases using agreed cross-sectoral and crossborder data building blocks and standards, on a ‘voluntary opt-in and non-exclusive’ basis.’
The site now accessible at copyrighthub.co.uk is basically a navigation service only at present, signposting users to relevant suppliers websites and enabling easy information discovery about where and how to obtain permission rights. Reputedly, 7000 unique visitors have already availed themselves of this information, showing that there is a real need for salient rights information. As the Hub develops, it’s intended that it move from being simply an information service to actually facilitating direct contact between linked databases and users.
One of the key areas in which the Hub is helping evolve rights within the music industry specifically is in the area of joint licensing. In response to numerous complaints about having to obtain two separate licenses from the PRS and the PPL for the same piece of music, these two CMO’s are now forming a joint license for amateur sports clubs and small work spaces, both of which have traditionally fallen in a difficult middle ground when it comes to licensing.
Who's Behind the Hub
A number of important bodies including the PPL, PRS for Music, BPI and UK Music, as well as the Copyright Hub Launch Group are behind the Hub. Cameron’s government has also pledged £150,000 start-up funding, as announced by intellectual property minister Lord Younger. Younger has been a key player in getting the Hub off the ground; after the government’s funding announcement last March he said: ‘the Copyright Hub will simplify copyright licensing for consumers and I am delighted to announce this funding to enable industry to begin their work.’ Estimates suggest that the Copyright Hub may add an estimated 2.2 billion to the economy each year by 2020.