Grant Holder: Professor Ian Hargreaves, Cardiff University and Professor Lionel Bently, University of Cambridge
Funder: Funded under the AHRC scheme 'Copyright Satellites'
Period: January 2014 to December 2015
Project on the problems facing print journalism in the digital environment and the prospects for copyright-based solutions.
Like music and other branches of publishing, news journalism has faced radical challenges over the last two decades. There is talk of the "death of the newspaper" and questions raised about the very future of journalism. While with music, books and films, the greatest threat to existing business models have been seen as the unauthorised and unremunerated home copying and peer to peer distribution, with news journalism the challenge derives from the fact that advertising has not followed the shift of print-newspapers to the Internet. Given that more than half of newspaper revenue traditionally comes from advertising, newspaper profit margins have suffered badly, many jobs have been lost and titles closed. Consequently, news journalists, including photographers and associated freelance creators, have expressed dismay at their increasingly fragile economic and unsatisfactory legal position.
But, if the central problem has not been copyright piracy, the big question is whether copyright-related business models are part of the solution. Certainly, some newspapers are starting to deploy copyright and para-copyright as part of their business strategies: using firewall systems, bringing actions against news aggregation sites (such as Yahoo!, Google News), which are seen as "siphoning off" advertising revenue; and, most radically, calling for addition legal rights, including rights in news per se. At the same time, aggregators and others are pursuing new business models arising from the use of news archives and other news text and image assets. Because on-line news organisations increasingly use multi-media techniques, there is growing overlap with copyright concerns in television and film.
The research is intended to have three dimensions: