Participants argued that stakeholders in the copyright debate tended to take opposing positions, and that there was very little compromise between groups. There was a lack of engagement and dialogue, which did not help the situation. The division between groups also characterised the structure of consultation processes.
Participants noted that the copyright debate was described in terms of a battle, or war, between different groups. There was a tendency to approach it as a win-lose discussion, which made compromise difficult.
‘[There] are two very opposing views that people are very entrenched in. There is very little movement, I think, on either side. The people who are on the industry side are very dismissive of the whole open movement. The people on the open movement are very dismissive of the fact that these people want to make money and turn it into an industry. I suppose what we need is for it to be more apparent that it’s a spectrum and that there is a lot of space in the middle […]. It does feel to me that having two extremes isn’t very helpful because all they do is fire shots across the, whatever you call it, trenches at each other or something. They just don’t really listen to each other.’ [SH24]
Some participants suggested that extreme positions meant that the reality that many people rely on copyright to make a living could be lost in the debate.
For people who work in the creative industries, this is their livelihood. It’s not that they’ve made an ideological choice in the same way. [SH24]
Inevitably, within intellectual property, there are going to be tensions between users, between sectors, and between new, complex copyright users coming in at a higher level as we get more and more digitised. […] but doesn't alter the fact that, in the end, an original writer or photographer, or whoever, is in that field and needs to make a living. [SH9]
Lack of understanding and engagement
The divide between stakeholder positions results in a lack of engagement between people with different views about copyright. In turn, this leads to discussions being dominated by a few opposing voices, and a lack of general understanding about the complexity of the debate and the different ways that copyright is prioritised and used. This is made worse by the complexity of copyright law, and the increasingly complicated technological context for copyright. It makes it more difficult to find common ground that all stakeholders might be able to agree on.
Some participants felt that the lack of common ground is echoed in consultation structures.
So, the current system [is] where a set of questions goes out and, you know, lawyers or policy people within those groups or organisations then feverishly write a sort of long response, giving lots of evidence as to why they’re right and the other side is wrong. [...] [It] doesn’t help, it doesn’t get us beyond that, and I think it does stop you listening. [SH27]