Encouraging developments from Covent Garden today as the ROH invites a group of influential opera bloggers to a consultation on social media and rights management. This comes, of course, in the wake of the dispute with Intermezzo over the posting of copyrighted images.
Rights and copyright have become even more complicated in the digital age. Like a lot of arts organisations, we need to protect our rights and those of our artists, while also finding the best ways to share our work and encourage people to participate in it. Until now, the way we use social media has not been connected to our rights-management strategy, but it’s very clear that we need to bring the two closer together.
Of course, it remains to be seen what the results of such a consultation might be, but I think this is a mature and sensible response from the ROH. The conflict between rights management and social media commentary is only going to get harder for arts organisations to manage, and this looks like a seriously-intended attempt to arrest the chilling effect. I don’t expect it will produce the solution, but the attempt deserves support. Compromises will need to be made in order to strike the right balance between publicity and commentary on the one hand and the legitimate protection of creative rights on the other. If this consultation is an olive branch then those bloggers who are involved should be prepared to give some ground towards it.