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Emma Rice's Wise Children by Angela Carter

A lexicon for digital rights

In supporting the DCMS ‘Culture is Digital' initiative, The Space is working with arts and cultural organisations, rights representatives, talent unions and digital rights expert Ben Green to develop a Digital Rights Code of Practice, designed to help the arts sector navigate the evolving digital distribution environment. 

Through negotiations with rights representatives and  talent unions, it was negotiated as a sensible starting point, to set out some common terminology and example definitions, or a ‘lexicon’ of different digital uses and rights, which has now been signed off by all of the major rights holders and which we are publishing here. We hope you find it useful.

The Space has been consulting with arts organisations and practitioners across the arts and cultural sector since late 2017 around the area of digital rights. The desire to offer audiences greater digital and online access to their work, and an increased focus on digital audience development from UK public funders to increase both engagement and reach, led to the identification of two clear needs from the sector:

  • a greater understanding of intellectual property rights when seeking to publish creative work digitally, and
  • simplification and clarity around terminology and the different uses on digital platforms: - to make contracting contributors, creators and existing copyright holders easier.

The Space is committed to helping artists and arts and cultural organisations make the most of the opportunity to reach audiences through digital distribution. We're also aware of the need to ensure that artists, rights holders and cultural organisations - who are making publicly funded digital content - are remunerated and acknowledged appropriately. Understanding that there is often a difficult balancing act between non-commercial and commercial access to an artist’s work, we are committed to working with rights representatives and talent unions to understand the evolving digital and online market so that the right balance can be found.

It is important to stress that the intention of this terminology is not to undermine the current rights framework or Union agreements where digital use rights are already in place. Rather, it is to hopefully complement them, by identifying the primary online uses and rights increasingly required by cultural organisations and developing some common language around them, which may be referred to and/or negotiated where not already covered under existing agreements.

See also:

An introduction to digital rights which offers some basic guidance on what arts organisations need to think about before embarking on distribution of a digital project

The DCMS Culture is Digital report

The lexicon is the first part of a wider ‘digital rights toolkit’ that The Space is developing for use by the arts and cultural sector and which will be published on The Space website in September 2019.

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