A tale of three conferences…

IT Law certainly seems to be flavour of the month. Even more particularly, it seems to be flavour of the next couple of days. Today and tomorrow there are three conferences on different aspects of the subject, all of which I’d like to be at… if only I could be three places at once.

Starting in Yorkshire…

The place I’ll actually be is Leeds, for the Human Rights in the Digital Era Conference: Professors Andrew Murray and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger will be providing the keynote speeches, while I’ll be presenting on a topic which I hope to be making a central part of my work in the next year or so, the idea of a right to an online identity (you can find my prezi here). Other excellent speakers include Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, whose work is of increasing importance – particularly with the current government seemingly following the recent trend of seemingly being in thrall to the copyright lobby, if Jeremy Hunt’s suggestions are anything to go by – and my colleague Emily Laidlaw. It should be a fascinating day – and a subject of great current interest.

…and at the same time in London…

…the Society for Computers and Law is having its annual policy forum – with the focus on the ‘New Shape of European Internet Regulation’. Chaired by Lilian Edwards, and with contributions from such as Caspar Bowden (newly liberated from Microsoft) and my colleague Daithí Mac Síthigh, it’s another event of immense current interest, and one which I’m sad to have to miss. I’ll be following it on twitter (probably on #scl) and I’m looking forward to hearing more about it after the event. Daithí’s presentation on the App Store should be particularly good!

Meanwhile, in Poland…

…Warsaw is hosting the latest Creative Commons global meeting. At a time when attitudes and approaches to copyrights seem to be getting if anything even more regressive, with the EU Council voting this week to extend copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years, and as noted above, Jeremy Hunt setting out an aggressive and punitive strategy for dealing with online piracy, finding imaginative and effective ways forward for dealing with intellectual property issues is of ever growing significance. Lots of interesting people will be in Warsaw, putting together lots of excellent ideas – and again, I’m looking forward to reading and hearing all about it.

Three conferences – but common themes

Three very different conferences, three very different cities, three seemingly quite different agendas – but they all tie together, and they’re all attempting to address issues of crucial current interests. The Leeds conference focusses on human rights, the London conference on regulation, the Warsaw conference on creativity – but the issues all interact with each other, and all impact upon each other. If, as the likes of Jeremy Hunt suggests, we use the twin heavy hands of law and finance to try to ‘protect’ our ‘creative’ arts (though the idea that Cliff Richard, one of the figureheads sent out this week to support the extension of copyright, represents ‘creativity’ is a somewhat difficult to swallow), then it is likely to be human rights that suffer.  Those of us interested in human rights need to be doing everything we can to prevent the focus of regulation – indeed, the new shape of regulation – to be protecting copyright at the expense of those human rights, which, ultimately, is what the copyright lobby is intending to bring about. Human rights, regulation and creativity are all very closely connected – as these timely conferences should do their very best to make clear.

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