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High Level International Conference Addresses Role of IP in the Creative Industries

Geneva, October 29, 2007

Government ministers, high level policy makers, industry representatives and leading musicians, artists, academia, and civil society representatives from across the globe underlined the critical importance of the creative sector in promoting cultural identity and in boosting economic development and wealth creation at a high-level conference on the role of intellectual property (IP) in the creative industries which opened at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on October 29, 2007. The two-day conference is a unique platform for stakeholders to exchange views on the role of IP in the dynamic creative industries sector. 
In opening the International Conference on Creativity and the Creative Industries, WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris underlined the importance of the role and relevance of the IP system as a means of harnessing the sector’s economic potential and its sustained growth.  The Director General said “this important event is an excellent opportunity to raise public awareness of the importance of creative industries and the role of intellectual property in their development. Today there is a strong interest worldwide in the creative industries, in particular with regard to their economic contribution to development and growth.” Dr. Idris said “The debate on the creative industries is often focused on the cultural side.” He emphasized the important role of intellectual property in contributing to the sustainable growth of this sector and said, “it is precisely in order to discuss the intellectual property issues associated with creative industries that this event has been organized.”  
Dr. Idris urged participants to also consider the economic dimension of the creative process. “Additionally, the economic aspects should be analyzed in order to assess the extent to which this sector may contribute to economic growth, social development and cultural diversity.” In this respect, the Director General drew attention to the guidelines developed by WIPO for economic surveys of the sector. Dr. Idris underlined the importance and development-related growth potential of the creative industries sector as demonstrated by the fact that “research resulting from these surveys shows an average contribution of 5.4% of the creative industries to GDP and a 6.2% contribution to national employment. 
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Mr. Tarek Mitri, Minister of Culture of Lebanon, addressed the tension between the “ethical imperative” to preserve cultural diversity by extending support to creators and the commitment to the development of creative industries focusing on economic growth and job creation. The Minister said that the products of creativity were not consumer goods and should not be commodified but they were still economic assets. He said that intellectual property was a means of reconciling these differences. The Minister said “Market forces alone cannot guarantee the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity. Public policy, in partnership with the private sector and civil society is essential.”   He spoke of the challenges of cultural specific creative industries, saying “in a small country like ours, a number of cultural industries may not be competitive beyond the borders of Lebanon where the market is limited, but they need to develop if we want creativity to flourish and if we are keen on preserving the cultural plurality of our country.” 
The Minister said “Support to the creators will subsequently contribute to the economy”, adding “copyright based industries have been undervalued and not viewed as a significant economic driver and source of growth despite their significant contribution the Lebanese economy.” According to a recent WIPO study, creative industries contribute 4.75% to Lebanon’s GDP and account for 4.49% of employment. 
Mrs. Olivia Grange, Minister for Information, Culture, Youth and Sports of Jamaica, said that “Jamaica’s cultural exports to the world have been nothing short of phenomenal.” She said that Jamaica’s culture “springs from the creative imagination of a diverse people, forced in crucible of common experiences, struggles and successes.” Mrs. Grange reaffirmed her Government’s commitment to managing Jamaica’s cultural resources, saying “we are seized by the fact that it is the culturally inspired creativity and innovation of the Jamaican people that will form the platform for sustained wealth creation for all our people.” She added “The commitment of the new government of Jamaica is to build our economy by placing policy and planning focus on the creation of a supportive environment for the creative industries. It is therefore now a priority subject of our country’s trade and investment agenda”. 
The Minister said that Jamaican creative industries “will not only have the benefit of the fuel of a strong legislative framework supportive of the protection of the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property, but also a well oiled monitoring and implementing mechanism”. Mrs.  Grange referred to the findings of the WIPO study that copyright based industries contribute approximately 5.1% to Jamaica’s GDP which equates with the contributions made by the mining and agricultural sectors. The Minister said, “in this regard, I must pay tribute to the commitment of Dr. Kamil Idris and the WIPO staff for leading the charge to educate the governments and peoples of the Caribbean region and indeed elsewhere, on the potency of intellectual property as a critical and necessary tool for economic development”. The Minister further outlined a number of current initiatives by her Government to enhance the global competitiveness of Jamaica’s creative industries, most notably in relation to geographical indications, traditional knowledge and in the overhaul of the Patent and Designs Act.
Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, Minister for Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Nigeria, said “Creativity … is a fundamental human resource with endless potentials”. He underscored the fact that creativity is rooted in culture, noting “Language, thoughts, music, dressing, spiritual practices, and so forth are definite cultural expressions which become purveyors of creativity. When strategically organized, these activities can be grouped into businesses and industries which provide products and services to satisfy societal needs in the areas of education, entertainment, and commerce.” With reference to Nigeria’s 350 ethnic groups, the Minister said, “Nigeria can boast of not less than 350 streams of cultural creativity streams. In a world that is increasingly relying on creativity propelled and knowledge based economy, this will translate to enormous resource pool for boosting the economic power and national image of Nigeria, when strategically deployed”. 
The Minister added, “A systematic management of the cultural resources of our nations guarantees a most viable economic asset for global market.” He spoke of the importance of cultural diversity, “Creativity indeed thrives in a society with diverse cultures because there are series of varying and diverse ideas, situations, and different environments to work with”. Prince Kayode spoke of the economic importance of cultural industries and referred to his Government’s efforts to encourage and sustain creativity in this sector.   He said, “properly packaged and managed cultural industries have very huge potential.” He added ‘It is clear that the cutting edge of global economic development is shifting inexorably in the directions that rely heavily on creative resources of nations”. In this respect, the Minister referred to the “renewed urgency in every country to facilitate and provide a framework for the protection” of creative resources. He added, “the intellectual property system represents one of the mechanisms which countries adopt to ensure that creativity is protected and made a profitable venture.” 
Mr. Christian Valentin, personal advisor to the Secretary General of the Francophonie, spoke of the wide-range and rich contributions made by French-speaking creators and referred to the challenge of preserving cultural diversity while simultaneously promoting the development of viable and productive cultural industries which account for an increasingly important share of revenue. He underlined the economic importance of cultural industries and said that the intellectual property system played an indispensable role in their sustained development. Mr.  Valentin further outlined the various initiatives being undertaken by his Organization in support of the cultural industries sector in French-speaking countries including capacity building and awareness raising. 
Addressing the theme “the concept and origins of creativity”, Jamaican music star Shaggy explained his personal experience with the “birth” of the creative idea and the consequent evolution of that idea. “The award-winning musician said “It starts with an idea,” and outlined the challenges for artists in breaking away from mainstream music genres. He noted that reggae music is even considered as “minority music” in spite of the huge successes and popularity of many reggae artists. Shaggy, who has sold over 22 million albums, said artists themselves have to continue to be creative. “We have to be creative, not just in the song itself but in marketing the song,” adding “We must try our best to make the industry a more creative one,” he said. Outlining the challenges at all levels – industry, artists, policy-makers - he said there are “many rivers to cross and we are here to cross them together.”
Throughout the conference, speakers will elaborate on such diverse themes as the concepts and origins of creativity, creativity and IP in support of development, knowledge and cultural capital and the nexus between IP and the creative industries. A panel will be devoted to measurement issues and will cover topics such as cultural economics as a tool for analysis, WIPO’s experience in assessing the economic contribution of the creative industries, as well as Hong Kong’s perspective of the creativity index.
Discussions at the Conference will also focus on the place of the creative industries in the digital environment, covering issues such as the international legal framework, and the challenges of protecting online content and the role of collective management in the digital era. A final segment will address the business of creativity, a series of best practices of innovative business models from all continents, in the music, book, film, and games industries.
The conference is open to the public. The program is available at https://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/2007/ip_ind_ge/program.html and registration details at https://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/2007/ip_ind_ge/registration.html.
For more information, please contact the News and Media Division at WIPO:
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