IPIL Symposium: The Economics of Creativity

The Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Program (IPIL), the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) and the QUT Faculty of Law recently hosted the ‘The Economics of Creativity’ Symposium to discuss the legislation pertaining to the digital market.

Professor Ruth Towse, Professor in Economics of Creative Industries at Bournemouth University (UK)Dr Kevin Sanson, Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication at QUTProfessor David Throsby AO, Professor of Economics at Macquarie UniversityAssociate Professor Nicolas Suzor, Principal Research Fellow at QUT Faculty of Law and Dr Kylie Pappalardo, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at QUT Faculty of Law, offered a comprehensive perspective on how professionals from the legal, economic and creative industries work together to balance the needs of consumers and creators.

Professor David Throsby AO, Professor of Economics at Macquarie University and Professor Ruth Towse, Professor in Economics of Creative Industries at Bournemouth University (UK)

The event was inspired by two empirical projects conducted by Dr Pappalardo and Associate Professor Suzor in 2017.

In their first project, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)sponsored Associate Professor Suzor, Dr Pappalardo and colleagues in the DMRC to research how Australian consumers access digital markets. The project revealed the discrepancies between Australian and American consumers regarding the access and costs of film, TV, music and games. The results of the project are available at the Digital Media Observatory.

In their second project, Imagination foregone: A qualitative study of the reuse practices of Australian creators, funded by the Australian Digital Alliance (ADA), Dr Pappalardo and Associate Professor Suzor found that Australian creators are intimidated by licensing fees to reuse content and view the amounts of licensing fees as unfair and stifling.

At the Symposium, Professor Throsby spoke on his own work into this area, Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia, and explained that although artists contribute 60% of their time to creative work, less than 40% of their income is related to this.

The Symposium’s discussion also focused upon the dangers of digitising integral parts of our cultural history. Dr Sanson questioned how society’s move towards services such as Netflix impacts small, local and obscure movies, which would once have been preserved on disc.

To answer this question, Dr Pappalardo, Associate Professor Suzor and Dr Sanson plan to continue work on the Digital Media Observatory project.

Following the event, Dr Pappalardo and Associate Professor Suzor were awarded an Institute for Future Environments Catapult grant. In collaboration with academics from the Creative Industries and Science and Engineering Faculties, this project will investigate how blockchain can help publishers adjust to new digital markets.

The importance of interdisciplinary practice in this area was emphasised by Dr Pappalardo.

‘In order to understand how the internet and digital markets are really affecting creators, such as their impacts on how creators can market and sell their works and earn a living, it is critical that economists, creators, creative industries scholars and copyright lawyers work together. This is a complex problem that requires many minds from different disciplines to solve,’ she said.

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