How digitisation can help save the UK's creative industries

Andrew Carr
Digital platforms can help conserve the UK's creative industries (Source: Getty)

Creativity is the lifeblood of the modern world we live in.

From writers and designers, to architects and musicians, the world around us would not exist as it is if it wasn’t for our creators, who give every office, city and country its identity and history.

The UK's creative industries, which generate £9.6m per hour for the UK economy, are some of the fastest growing sectors in the UK. It is vital that when an individual "creates" something with imagination, it is not consumed, but instead used with permission.

Yet, it is becoming increasingly difficult for creatives to track their work, as digitisation continues to blur the lines of revenue opportunity and what is up for the taking. As technology has evolved so has the ability of users, creating a constant review cycle of copyright regulations and laws.

Today, there is currently no standardised way of communicating between content creator, broker and seller as an individualised language is developed between each party, delaying and blocking the true value of content from being realised.

Read more: Why AI and robots will never compete with human creativity

The Smiths

But what does that actually mean? In 2009, the Smiths, an American family, found themselves in a bizarre situation. Their Christmas picture was used on a billboard advertising a grocery store’s home delivery service in the Czech Republic.

As shocked as the Smiths was the owner of the shop who found the digital image, and assumed it was computer generated and therefore free to use. Luckily on this occasion he removed the image, apologised to the family and would have sent "a good bottle of wine" had they lived closer.

But this revolution isn’t limited to images.

It’s happening across the creative sector as a whole. Look at music for example; the likes of Napster have turned the music world on its head, transforming the way musical content is consumed.

Read more: Accenture's launching an artificial intelligence practice

A hard-copy vinyl is now a commodity, while digital has stormed in and made it possible for consumers to miss out the middle man and go straight from creator to seller.

The original role of the broker who ensured business serenity and fair payments has been somewhat lost with this shift; and so we have found ourselves in a position where consumers are paying more for the content and creators are receiving less.

Economically inefficient

Ultimately, this breakdown seen in current models is economically inefficient as creators feel undervalued. The answer lies in technology. New digital tools and services have the ability to enhance and transform the industry, a sector that gives our country both its colour and personality.

Funding a solution that will allow us to manage the lending and licensing of content needs to be prioritised to ensure creatives can continue in their trade.

As it stands, creators are spending over ninety percent of their time producing creations that generate zero in revenue.

Read more: Creativity and innovation: The neglected distinction

At Digital Catapult, we recently launched the Open Permissions Platform to directly tackle this problem. It will allow content buyers to have a direct point of sale with creators, connecting the uniquely identifiable creations with their owners.

To put it frankly, creativity is too precious to lose - and we need to act now and use technology to enhance a vital industry in the UK.