Engaging all relevant stakeholders in consultations about copyright is a particularly difficult problem. Participants talked about the challenges associated with reaching the public, as well as smaller organisations and individuals.
Engaging the public
On the one hand, participants felt that the public were seen to have the right to provide input because they were affected by copyright.
I think that it can be very interesting if you can get people in who are not experts, because then you do get, sometimes, a picture that’s unexpected. I’m sure you do. [PU9]
On the other hand, participants recognised that there was no point in pursuing people who have no interest in a complex and sometimes inaccessible topic.
You don’t need only the structure, so the digital platforms and all the systems to put at the disposal of the citizen. But you need also aware citizens that are participative. So it’s not only about what you create, it needs to come also from the other side, from the part of the citizen, who needs to be engaged, active. [PU1]
The problem is that copyright is very complex, and creating simple messages that can be... I mean, it's a complicated thing to explain all these things in simple terms. [SH23]
Having evidence from people who weren’t properly informed was not particularly useful either.
I think it’s fine to canvass public opinion but how informed it would be depends on what the question is. There will be things that directly impact on the public, and why not canvass their views? For the most part, copyright works at a B2B level and can be very obscure. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be involved, but I don’t know how meaningful it could be in all instances.’ [SH8]
The fact that there was no group acting on behalf of consumers was a further barrier to public involvement.
We did away with the National Consumer Council, Consumer Focus, they were active and now it’s, the bonfire of the quangos. [...] So actually, who is it that represents, you know, the consumer - meaning, you know, the man in the street? [SH26]
Engaging small organisations and individuals
Aside from the general public, small businesses and individual creatives were also difficult to reach because they had other priorities. Responding to a consultation was not critical, and they often found it challenging to understand and interpret questions. Here, member organisations played an important role as ‘translators’ to make consultation documents accessible, and in gathering submissions from their members.
We would always reach out to our members before drafting a consultation response. We send out monthly newsletters, and we would probably say, ‘If you have any ideas on this please feed into us’. In reality, we find that most of our members don’t engage with that sort of thing, because they are not copyright experts, and we don’t expect them to be. Our members engage in the type of campaigning which is a bit more understandable to them. [SH14]