By Sergio López Figueora

Inspired by Bart Cammaerts and Bingchun Meng’s media policy brief 1, ‘Creative Destruction and Copyright Protection: Regulatory Responses to File-sharing’, Sergio López Figueora blogs about his work at Big Bang Lab. Sergio is the director of Big Bang Lab, which is a creative agency specializing in using and re-using original music and silent films from archived visual media in creative workshops and live performances.

As a cultural and social entrepreneur with a music background, I have been working through Big Bang Lab to promote collaborative methodologies and co-creativity in practise, primarily using new processes of digital content creation. Part of this venture is facilitating accessibility to audiovisual archives in order to create new cinema without words or cultural boundaries. We focus on enabling the collective production of new music for live performances and of “mash ups” using digital silent films.

Social impact through innovation and creativity is at the core of our work and we work outside of the traditional commercial model. We are developing new tools to add value to crowdsourced video and audio content in order to improve diverse forms of creative expressions, of citizenship and of democracy. Alongside this, we focus on developing tools for decoding information especially in the context of the future of cities and sustainability.

To achieve our vision, we need new ways of understanding copyright. We want to bring the value of music back to the experiential, back to the unique.  Both of these factors, in combination with films, include looking at new market opportunities and new ways to channel the talent of young filmmakers, composers and musicians.

The copyright model we are looking at is closer to a co-operative model of Intellectual Property.  This co-operative model  uses new agreements and involves working with closed communities as co-creators whilst providing them with free training and access to high quality knowledge from more experienced professionals. In order to test this model, we need to generate enough profit to distribute royalties to all parties. The co-operative or common ownership model comes from a percentage of those royalties.  All parties must agree to lose a certain percentage on behalf of the common good in order to reinvest back to the group or community or even for future generations. This, in a nutshell, is the concept of cultural social responsibility – where consumers and creators are partners – without patronising any participants.

Our real test will be the implementation of Creative Generation, a new digital inclusion project, which involves young people living in a South London Estate creating and managing their own history via audio and video to be used as a common resource to create new songs.

We are looking at technologies in metadata that will allow us to better manage this content and actually facilitate the legal digital consumption and re-distribution of wealth, rather than to protect and create barriers. We are also investigating crowdfinancing to produce digital content that is accessible, exciting and engaging via live performances and/or online experience.

I agree with Bart and Bingchun that technological or legal barriers are not going to bring a balance between creators’ rights and consumption. We look at file-sharing as a promotional opportunity, as applies to our experience, but it is also true that we are not relying only on digital distribution. We don’t know about the future of copyright necessarily, but we do know that our real challenge is about changing mindsets – from audiences to disadvantaged young people labelled as pirates – and to make sure there is a niche marketplace where we can build from the bottom up!

So, if you want to collaborate with us and be part of this ongoing journey, get in touch!
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