Intellectual property (IP) is a key element for the development of the creative economy as it enables creators to monetize their work. It also fosters innovation, foreign direct investment, and the emergence of new creative products and services, establishing a virtuous cycle for economic and social development. This inherent connection is acknowledged in the definition of the creative economy, which refers to “the group of activities that transform ideas into cultural and creative goods and services, whose value is or could be protected by intellectual property rights“.
However, the creative economy presents unique challenges due to diverse and difficult-to-define markets, which pose significant hurdles in terms of exercising IP rights and reaping their benefits. In this context, there is an urgent need to bridge knowledge gaps and improve the agility, adaptability, and modernization of IP systems to the creative sector in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, to address new paradigms effectively.
This is why the IDB has recently released two publications that delve into the relationship between the creative economy and IP. The first publication focuses on intellectual property rights and public policies for the creative economy, identifying and analyzing the main challenges related to IP protection in the creative sector. It provides a wide range of public policy recommendations based on international best practices tailored to the regional context. You can attend the virtual launch of the publication (in Spanish) by clicking here. The English version of the publication will be available soon.
With the support of experts, we validated the four most pressing IP challenges that demand attention:
- Administrative, legal, and high costs barriers to accessing the IP system.
- Lack of clarity on monetizing protected or protectable creations through IP.
- Slow adaptation of IP legislation to keep pace with the evolving technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI).
- Piracy, particularly through digital means.
These challenges have also been exacerbated by the rapid digitization of the creative sector, the emerging technologies, and the increasing integration of the sector with other value chains.
Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalization has played a pivotal role in the economic resilience of the creative industries, stimulating the emergence of new business models and marketing platforms. It has undoubtedly altered and will continue to transform the rules of engagement across the entire value chain of the creative economy by introducing new modes of communication, creation, and collaboration. However, it has also amplified the risk of piracy and copyright infringement of content copied and distributed through digital media, affecting the monetization and protection of IP rights.
Emerging technologies like AI and advanced robotics bring both opportunities and challenges for IP protection in the creative industries. The speed at which these technologies are developing outpaces the ability of current laws to keep up, requiring constant attention from IP decision-makers.
Recently, a Chinese court granted copyright protection for the first time to an article authored by an AI called Dreamwriter. This unprecedented decision could revolutionize the way property rights are protected and recognized in the future. It may also spur the introduction of new regulations and ethical debates around AI and its role in the creation of original works. Similarly, the use of data for machine learning, some of which may involve copyrighted works or personal and sensitive information, presents its own set of challenges.
Lastly, the integration of the creative sector with other value chains is in its nascent stage, primarily due to the high level of informality within the sector and the lack of understanding regarding the added value that creative industries can bring to traditional sectors of the economy. While product and packaging design or marketing are typical examples in this field, the opportunities are limitless.
We have witnessed the tremendous potential of the entertainment industry in developing solutions that benefit the education sector or how video game developers have uncovered new ways in which simulation, augmented reality, and 3D modelling can support industries such as healthcare and tourism. However, these unconventional uses of creative products and services pose challenges to the recognition and protection of property rights under current IP systems.
One of the recurring challenge has been bringing the gap between creatives and the world of IP, where legal and technical concepts can be complex to comprehend and apply. This is evident in the fact that a majority of creative entrepreneurs in LAC (65.2%) do not have IP rights due to their complexity and associated costs.
That is why the IDB also created the Intellectual Property Guide for Honduran Creative Entrepreneurs, a comprehensive resource filled with key elements, practical examples, and valuable insights tailored to the most common IP needs and concerns of creative entrepreneurs and Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). While the guide focuses on Honduras and considers specific legal and administrative aspects of the country, it serves as a valuable tool for any Latin American and Caribbean creative seeking success in their business (watch the recording of the Guide launch event here, in Spanish).
As part of the IDB’s commitment to supporting the creative industries and boosting the growth of creative enterprises in the LAC region surges the Creative Tech Lab (CTL), a collaborative tool that brings together an eclectic mix of individuals interested in shaping the future of the creative industries. The CLT exposes creative entrepreneurs to digital technologies that can generate and enhance sustainable revenue streams. The tool has already been successfully piloted in the Caribbean, including Jamaica (2019), Haiti (2020), and Trinidad and Tobago (2021), and an updated methodology is currently being developed to scale it up across the LAC region (stay tuned!). During the Jamaica edition, for example, one of the prototypes created was an innovative mobile application that addresses a common challenge in music collaboration: ownership. The app provides support to help collaborating songwriters, artist, and producers by simplifying the management and splitting of contributions to new songs through the generation of convenient split agreements.
It is worth noting that, despite the inherent link between IP and the creative economy, only a few countries in the region have integrated both areas into the public policies. Achieving this integration requires collaborative and coordinated efforts from all stakeholders in the creative ecosystem, particularly within the public sector. The aforementioned publications serve as a starting point and provide reference information on the available tools to make IP a consistent element that drives the development of the region’s creative economy.