Dynamics of expectations and linked ecologies: a case study of the Copyright Hub
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date08/07/2020
Nguyen, Hung The
This thesis examines the development of the Copyright Hub, an emerging infrastructural initiative, designed to streamline the processes of expressing, identifying and communicating Intellectual Property (IP) rights information, especially copyright licensing, across sectors of the creative industries. The study highlights the origins of the Copyright Hub and the provision of public support for its R&D as a product of divergent pressures: the creative industries sought government action to redress their concerns about difficulties in enforcing copyright in a digital world; government sought to stimulate the economy through fostering sustainable digital industries. The project however did not fulfil its promise of enabling the innovation of new market infrastructures for trading copyright-protected content. To go beyond prevalent snapshot studies of innovation, this research draws upon the Biographies of Artifacts and Practices (BOAP) approach, which informs the methodological choice of multi-site, longitudinal fieldwork. A rich account of the unfolding of a field of innovation is provided, combining archival and contemporary ethnographic sources. The analysis applies concepts from the sociology of expectations (and in particular ‘arenas of expectations’) to understand the process by which visions and expectations are mobilised to accumulate public and private funding and support, as well as understanding the dynamics of development of the Copyright Hub project. These notions are complemented by Abbott’s concept of “linked ecologies”, which helps in scrutinising the interrelation of actors within the policy-making ecology and its neighbouring ecologies of business and IP standard development. In addition, Abbott’s discussion on “things of boundaries” provides a helpful template for conceptualising the processes through which protected spaces are constructed. The thesis makes three main contributions to knowledge. 1. It provides a rich, empirical description of the Copyright Hub initiative from its embryonic stages when novel ideas are being formed, new alliances are being made, and resources are mobilised to build a protected space for innovation development. In addition to high expectations, this research managed to capture and portray how ‘low’ and ‘slow’ expectations can help in propelling the Copyright Hub project by (a) ensuring existing market actors that the new initiative would not cannibalise their commercial interests, and (b) providing for stability in policy making which counter-balanced the rapid re-bundling of policy issues around IP. The substantive area of developing digital infrastructures for IP licensing and management is per se of wider interest to policy makers, creative industries and scholars of innovation studies. 2. It contributes to the sociology of expectations by furthering our understanding of “arenas of expectations” as the battleground where adjacent ecologies meet in search of alliances, resources and support. Policy makers, businesses and infrastructure entrepreneurs do not compete alone, but rather in alliance, and thus any successful strategy must provide “dual rewards” for members of the alliance in both ecologies at once. For example, the Copyright Hub successfully acted as a “hinge”, which helped the UK creative industries prevent further copyright exceptions being imposed upon them, while allowing the government to fight off criticism of the dearth of visions and policies for long-term economic growth. Similarly, arenas of expectations are not isolated phenomena, but they are linked together through members of an alliance in its overall struggle for power. 3. It helps in reconceptualising “protected spaces”. The protected space for the development of the Copyright Hub’s technology was established through explicit act of various actors yoking together three “sites of differences”: the Copyright Hub Ltd., the Digital Catapult, and the Linked Content Coalition. These sites of differences brought with them constraints, preferences, and vested interests into the development process and played a crucial role in shaping the innovation’s trajectory. When the interest needed to hold these social boundaries in place was no longer adequate, the protected space would be dissolved. Yet, elements of such spaces do not completely disappear but morph, transform and eventually constitute new protected spaces or other types of social entities. In the case of the Copyright Hub, for example, the protected space was eventually dissolved when the Digital Catapult withdrew from the project, yet elements developed within this space morphed and constituted a new project named ARDITO, whose objectives were to develop actual services in the marketplace from the Copyright Hub’s pilot use cases.