Symposium on Intellectual Property and Digital Production

1st July 2005, L Shed, Industrial Museum, Bristol Harbourside.

'[The] industry is hypocritical and the domination has to be shared. P2P to me means "power to the people".' [Chuck D]

Issues around intellectual property are a key concern for digital artists and designers, revealing a range of tensions between the idealism of work entering the public domain and the pragmatics of making a living. On the one hand, there is the principle that creativity and innovation thrives from the sharing of ideas and material in the 'commons' and on the other, that laws are necessary to protect individual and collective interests. This symposium will feature new and provocative ideas that challenge existing structures and practices for those working at the intersections of commerce, research and independent production.

Papers include invited speakers plus those from recent graduates, postgraduate students and practitioners in the fields of digital arts, media, design and production.


10.00-10.15 Hugo de Rijke - Introductions
10.15-10.45 Prodromos Tsiavos - Ecologies of Regulation and How to Cultivate Them
10.45-11.15 Paul Randle - Make Money Whilst You Sleep
11.15-11.30 break
11.30-11.45 George Grinsted - Comparing the Creative and Software Industries
11.45-12.00 Dominica Williamson - The Ecological Nature of Software
12.00-12.30 Ian 'Cutswift' Edgar - Eclectic Method
12.30-12.45 Discussion
12.45-13.45 lunch and Random Function performance
13.45-14.00 Chris O'Shea - Sonicforms
14.00-14.15 Christina Balanou - MemBox
14.15-14.30 Grzesiek Sedek - No Software Patents Please
14.30-14.45 Daniel James - The Prole Art Threat: free tools for free media
14.45-15.15 break, including screening: Ulrike Bruckner & Sabine Meyer - Topshop
15.15-16.00 Open Discussion

The Exploiting Potential symposium is organised by i-DAT and Submerge in partnership with Arts Council England, Watershed and UWE.
Thanks also to Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam for providing copies of Lawrence Liang's 'Guide to Open Content Licenses' (2004).



Prodromos Tsiavos - Ecologies of Regulation and how to cultivate them: The experience of Creative Commons in the UK
Ecologies of Regulation is a heuristic for describing the way in which the nexus of legal, technological and institutional relationships of an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime grows and evolves over time. Regulation in the level of the law is increasingly surpassed by developments in the sphere of contracts, technologies and social practices that facilitate the creation and dissemination of content in ways that the centralized regulator could not have envisaged. If we are to speak about IPR regulation, it makes more sense to explore the contractual practices of employers, the technologies that control dissemination of material and the licensing schemes of large content owners rather than merely seeking for the letter (or even the spirit) of any Copyright Act. Creative Commons in the UK is an organization that actively seeks to understand the way in which the IPR Ecologies of Regulation operate in the UK context and to effect change by allowing the creation of alternative licensing models for creating and disseminating content. This talk focuses on the current progress of the CC project in the UK and worldwide and highlights areas of interest for our future endeavors. CC aims at placing the creator in control of her own creative output and provide a platform alternative to the mainstream for the generation of wealth, out of the management of her Intellectual Property Rights.

George Grinsted - Comparing the Creative and Software Industries
Since the 1998 announcement by the Netscape Corporation that it was preparing to 'Open-Source' its Netscape Navigator program code, the Open Source movement has managed to flip the standard commercial software production model completely on its head. Before Open Source, only one third of corporate software development projects ended on time, on budget and within scope - clearly something was wrong with the industry. By providing a means of production that has returned greater cost efficiency, higher productivity and more reliable products, the Open Source movement has co-opted the corporate world into its hacker ethic. This ethic is built on the desire to share and build upon each other's work, so that energy is not wasted on replicating the work of others; an ethic that can be seen in many non-computing related fields. What is different, however, with the hacker movement is that it designs its own means of production - the hardware and software of the digital age. Now, as computing and digitisation spreads into more and more facets of our daily lives, it is the same people who design and build the means of production (or at least communication) for more and more of the world's population. Almost all e-mail passes through software designed by hackers; 60% plus of websites are served using software designed by a remote consortium of strangers; the Firefox and Safari browsers are by no means winning the browser war but they are providing the only competition to Microsoft's market dominance and both were built using the Open Source model - where is the old model of production in such an important sphere? Like many people attending Submerge, I have to straddle the computing and art/design fields on a daily basis and whilst I have noticed a refreshing change in the software industry with the advent of Open Source, I have noticed a more worrying trend in the freshly marketed 'Creative Industries'. The very term 'Creative Industries' implies by definition factories and excessive commercialisation and unfortunately I think this is its intention. With organisations such as Own It being heavily promoted to young artists/designers alongside courses such as Creative Entrepreneurs we are seeing a government sponsored move to further commoditise creativity, to apply business models to its production, attempts to export it as one of Britain's best products and the creation of a climate of fear of plagiarism that only Intellectual Property Rights law can prevent. What is interesting is that this push is sending the 'Creative Industries' towards the very position that the software industry has spent the last seven years fighting its way out of a world of Intellectual Property, Patents and Copyright that crippled its producers and provided short-term profits to its owners, who were rarely the same people. This presentation is not meant to imply that this move isn't being resisted but to highlight the positive implications of sharing and to see if the creative producers present come to the same conclusion as the software industry in 1998.

Dominica Williamson - The ecological nature of software: Adopting free/open source models of production and licensing to benefit the entire biotic community
At a time when most scientists agree that we are in the midst of an ecological crisis, I believe it is time to focus on the term software ecology to help study, through practice, whether free/open source methods of production and licensing are reaching towards the concept of sustainability. The free/open source model is usually promoted as being socially and/or economically beneficial to the producer/s and other person/s who receive work that is built/rebuilt this way. However, there is another benefit of employing free/open source methods of production and licensing that needs to be seriously approached, that of using such production and licensing agreements to minimize the amount of damage to the environment. For this presentation, I will divide the study of software ecology into two parts. I will look at the importance of developing slow software, and then I will look at how this methodology might influence the way in which producers could utilise human and material resources more efficiently. Explorations will draw on research that I am gathering for a project that is about building an online collaborative web tool. This research includes the search for licensing models that have social responsibility at their heart. The web tool is re-coding an existing Wiki engine to meet the needs of a community group who want to understand how they can look after their community place sustainably.

Chris O'Shea - Sonicforms Sonicforms is an open source research platform for developing tangible interfaces for audio visual environments. The aim of the project is to improve this area of musical interaction by creating a community knowledge base and open tools for production. By decentralising the technology and providing an easier entry point, artists and musicians can focus on creating engaging works rather than starting from the ground up. Rather than using proprietary software, whose limitations can often influence the design decisions, Floss (free/libre and open source software) allows the creator to rebuild the tools of production to meet their desired method of interaction. This presentation will contain a brief look at the software explored and the ways in which open source software can be adapted to make such interfaces. Sonicforms is not only a demonstration of how Floss can be more productive, but also engages the realm of intellectual property. Tangible sound interfaces to this date have been largely retained by their authors and thus the power to create them is also limited. By sharing knowledge, Sonicforms enables more artists to be able to create similar interfaces and encourages them to share their work with the wider community. What impact has this open project had on other artists? What effect does it hold for further development? Will this open source production eventually lead to improved tangible instruments?

Christina Balanou - MemBox
MemBox is an interactive installation that is designed to explore the relationship between memory, narrative and physical interaction. Using a custom designed control system that employs a wooden box with series of receptacles, a controller and a cube that users place in the receptacles, users are able to navigate through and manipulate a series of videos and images that are intended to evoke either memory responses, emotional reactions, and potentially allow the construction of narrative. The presentation will reflect upon the\cf2 experience of using Pure Data to construct an interactive program that explores the relationship between physical interactions, memory and narrative comprehension.

Grzesiek Sedek - No software patents please
Kurator is a free software application designed as a curating tool for source code. As an open and experimental system, it extends some of the online systems that challenge the role of the curator in the process of selection, categorisation, presentation and distribution of online artworks, by emphasising not the aesthetical or functional properties but the source code itself. In practice, once a project's source code is submitted to the Kurator software it is then uncompressed, indexed, reposited and available to users for further processing through set of kurator modules. In further stages of development, users will be able to modify existing modules, add new ones and modify the system as a whole. The software will also include an 'auto-kurator' module enabling a generative mode of selections and new displays from the existing repository of submitted works. Compared to a more traditional curatorial process, this system operates a quite different set of productive relations and offers an open source model informed by collective endeavour. The presentation introduces the principles of the project in as much as it undermines the hierarchies of power evident in proprietary software development. Instead it proposes a model of collaboration and the potential for future collective involvement that exemplify the principles of open source. Kurator is released as free software licensed under GPL to ensure its future development under the same conditions. The presentation situates these ideas in the context of the 'no software patents' campaign.

Daniel James - The Prole Art Threat: free tools for free media
Computers are ubiquitous - at least, in the first world - and yet most are never used creatively. The 'industry standard' creative software is controlled by a very small group of companies, which dictate the conditions for their use. Linux and free software present the opportunity for anyone with a computer to have access to a set of unrestricted and extensible creative tools. This presentation looks at free software applications available in areas including audio and graphics, and addresses questions on ease of use and hardware compatibility.

Ian 'Cutswift' Edgar - Eclectic Method
[no abstract supplied]



Christina Balanou
Christina Balanou did her undergraduate degree in Graphic Design and then worked as a Graphic Designer in Athens. She has conducted workshops in the use of computers in Graphic Design in both Greece and Thailand, before moving to the UK to complete her MA Interactive Media at University of West of England. She has produced her work on the MA using the Open source program Pure Data and has conducted introductory tutorials in Pure Data to undergraduate students at the University.

Ulrike Bruckner and Sabine Meyer
Ulrike Bruckner is a Berlin-based visual artist and grafik designer. She completed the Visual Communication degree at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in 1999. In cooperation with Sabine Meyer she curated 'Topshop', a Berlin-based exhibition that broached the issue of 'Mass product vs unique object'. In 2001, she won the German prize of communication design 'red dot award'. Her grafic design projects focus on printed design works. She pursues an analytical, apparently factual, exploration of human behavior. The majority of her work gives the impression of a neutral observation.
Sabine Meyer (Germany) works as a graphic designer in Berlin. In 2002 she completed a graphic design degree at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In 2001, she founded the gallery and workspace 'Shop Furiosa' in Amsterdam, together with the visual artist Tom Mason. In 2002, she co-curated the 'Funtastic' event; an experimental workshop situation within the fields of visual art, music and literature, held in Amsterdam. In 2004, together with the graphic designer Ulrike Br\'9fckner, she organised and curated the 'Topshop' exhibition in Berlin.

Ian 'Cutswift' Edgar
Together with Geoff Gamlen and Johnny 'BRK' Wilson, Ian 'Cutswift' Edgar is part of Eclectic Method, a group of visual and aural artists who are part of the ever-approaching-critical-mass' bootleg and mash-up scene. They 'take sample culture to its illogical conclusion in clubs, while pushing visual boundaries in any other medium we can get our hands on'. Eclectic Method released a mix DVD entitled 'We're Not VJs' in May 2005. updates and downloads are regularly available from the group's website.

George Grinsted George Grinsted is currently researching the impact of Free/Open Source Software communities on wider culture at the Royal College of Art, London. Previously a director of limbomedia ltd. and lecturer at the University of Plymouth he has recently been working freelance on a range of projects funded by the Arts Council England, Nesta Future Lab and the Institute of Digital Art and Technology.

Daniel James
Daniel James is one of the founders of LinuxUser & Developer magazine, and now serves as deputy editor. A self-employed 'content creator' since 1996, his work has covered areas including writing, editing, print and website design. He has also built a Linux-based recording studio, founded the linuxaudio.org consortium, and launched 64 Studio, a creative software company.

Chris O'Shea
Chris O'Shea, a recent MediaLab Arts graduate, is a digital artist and creative technologist who is interested in open source processes and appropriated technology. His projects deal with physical interaction in creating and exploring an audiovisual synthesis. As well as recent talks on open source methodologies at Cybersonica and OFFF festivals, Chris also maintains Pixelsumo, a popular digital art blog and writes articles for Setpixel on installation production.

Paul Randle
Paul Randle is an associate solicitor at Briffa who joined the firm in February 2003 having been a founding member of the Intellectual Property team at his previous firm. Paul has broad experience of intellectual property matters ranging from franchising, licensing and sponsorship agreements to anti-counterfeiting enforcement and patent litigation. Paul has particular expertise in advising clients in software development, branding & trade marks, image rights and advertising and marketing. Paul is regularly asked to contribute to the press and requested to speak at academic and industry events. Paul set up the firm's specialist micro-site for the advertising industry, justadlaw.com. Paul writes regular columns in Brand Strategy and License Europe magazines and is on the Advisory Board for Brand Licensing Show. Paul recently successfully completed a Post Graduate Diploma in International and Comparative Trade Mark and Copyright law at the IP Institute (Queen Mary). Briffa is Own-It's affiliated law firm. Own-it is a partnership between the University of the Arts London and Creative London, part of the London Development Agency. The full Own It service was launched in September 2004. It aims to provide London's creative people and businesses with the relevant knowledge, advice and support to protect, exploit and value their intellectual property, and take full advantage of the capital contained therein.
http://www.briffa.com + http://www.own-it.org

Hugo de Rijke
Hugo de Rijke is Senior Lecturer in Media Industries at the School of Computing, Communications and Electronics; and also Senior Lecturer in Law at the School of Sociology, Politics and Law, at the University of Plymouth, UK. He holds a BA in Law and Literature from the University of Keele, and an MA in English and American Cultural Studies from the University of Exeter. He has worked as a publisher for various legal publishing houses and commissioned numerous publications, whilst dealing with media law issues. He is also a qualified barrister and practised for a number of years, combining criminal jury trials and civil law. His current research interests include digital art copyright and obscenity; and the law relating to anti-corporate/subversive Internet activity.

Grzesiek Sedek
Grzesiek Sedek is an artist/programmer. An Open Source and Linux enthusiast, he has been working on System Programming, Multimedia, Video, Animation, E-commerce, B2B Integration and Network Security. He currently works at Wimbledon School of Art and is actively involved in the development of the MARCEL high bandwidth network. His other interests include music, performance and interactive installation. His most recent project is kurator (in collaboration with Joasia Krysa), a free software application for curating which was launched at the Tate Modern and presented at Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon, in June 2005.

Prodromos Tsiavos
Prodromos Tsiavos is the legal project lead for the Creative Commons - England and Wales (CC-EW) project. He co-ordinates the drafting of the CC-EW licences and provides legal consulting for various applications of Open Business licensing schemes. Prodromos is a research associate at Oxford University, in the Programme for Comparative Media and Law Policy working on issues of digital Copyright licensing. He has worked for the European Commission, the Information Systems Directorate General and has collaborated with the Greek Intellectual Property Organisation. He is currently teaching Information Systems Development and Techno-legal perspectives on Information Systems at the London School of Economics and is advising the Lithuanian administration on behalf of the European Commission on issues of IPR enforcement.

Dominica Williamson
Dominica Williamson's practice is about looking at how sustainable design solutions can be achieved. She is currently completing her MSc in Digital Art and Technology at the School of Computing, Communications and Electronics, University of Plymouth. She obtained a BA First Class Honours in Design Studies from Goldsmiths College, University of London.


Exploiting Potential is part of Submerge [29th June 2005 - 1st July 2005] that bridges the gap between Industry, Research and Academia through a Graduate Showcase in the fields of Digital Art, Science and Technology. Submerge actively support and encourage communication and knowledge exchange through its events to ensure that emerging talent continues to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation in the UK. The three-day annual event includes the Submerge Student Awards, workshops, seminars, digital and musical performances and an exhibition of work from the emerging creative talent. This year also launching the Submerge Industry Awards, inviting the creative industries to showcase their best creativity and innovation while inspiring - and being inspired by - future producers.


Disclaimer: No guarantee or warranty is given that this event is a symposium that has value or that it can satisfy the cultural or intellectual needs of participants or that subsequent visits will generate identical or similar emotions, reactions or consequences. Access may be interrupted, restricted or delayed and information provided about it may be misleading. In the above circumstances, specific legal advice should be taken, subject to financial anxieties.