Archives for posts with tag: ofcom

Simon posted last month about the briefing event we ran at Ofcom just prior to the publication of our report on UGC. I’ve just found these photos I shot there, which I thought I would share.

Campbell Cowie, Director of Internet Policy at Ofcom, and commissioner of our report.


Sophie Walpole, of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

sophieRobbie Stamp, of H2G2,

robbie 2Our old friend Nick Reynolds, from the BBC.

nickThe panel in full.

panelOh, and Simon, of course.


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Even occasional readers of this blog will know that earlier this year we delivered a hefty old report on the value of User-Generated Content to Ofcom, the UK communications regulator. Well, last month Ofcom published the report, but we were away at the time and failed to report it here! Anyhow, here’s what Ofcom had to say on the report’s publication:

Ofcom has today published a report, carried out by Turner Hopkins, into user-generated content (UGC) online. The report considers the value of UGC to the UK, the opportunities it presents and the resulting implications for policymakers, including Ofcom as the UKs communications regulator. The study is relevant to Ofcoms duty to promote the interests of citizens and consumers, and to a strategic purpose outlined in Ofcom’s Annual Plan 2013/14 to “promote opportunities to participate”.

We also held an internal event at Ofcom prior to publication, running through some of our headline findings and hosting a panel discussion with three of the paper’s interviewees: Robbie Stamp of H2G2, Sophie Walpole of the V&A and Nick Reynolds from the BBC Internet Blog, who’s had some things to say about the report on his own blog.

Many thanks to all the report’s contributors including those of you who got in touch via this blog. And special thanks to Campbell Cowie and Katie Lucas at Ofcom for all their support during the project. You can download the report here, and please – all feedback is welcome!


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As part of my Content Industries Specialist role with the Creative Industries KTN I have, over the last few months, been sitting on the Data Building Blocks sub group of the Copyright Hub. It’s a phenomenally clever bunch of people, with decades’ worth of experience in the area of rights/assets/data across several industries, including music, AV, broadcast and book publishing. As the group’s strategic input into the main project shapes up I’m sure I’ll be reporting on it, but in the meantime I simply want to draw your attention to the very first iteration of the Copyright Hub, which launched last Monday.

Funnily enough, only this weekend, the acerbic and generally spot-on US music and tech blogger Bob Lefsetz made this observation, in a lengthy post entitled Changes in Our Lifetime:

Music… Was something you listened to, now it’s something you use. You add it to YouTube clips, you integrate it with your projects, it’s all done very easily but copyright law has still not caught up with today’s uses, nor has the music industry.

Well, the Copyright Hub has come about in response to that very situation; specifically, its institution was recommended by the 2011 Hargreaves Review of Copyright, which asked for the implementation of an “industry-led solution to improve copyright licensing”. And again, it’s the “long tail” of the kind of mash ups and music re-use Lefsetz talks about above which the Hub is principally there to deal with. Remember: this is a very long and potentially very lucrative tail indeed. As we cited in our recently-published Ofcom report into UGC, at the height of the Harlem Shake meme, over 4000 different versions were being uploaded to YouTube daily.

Of course, the Copyright Hub is there to deal with all media, not simply music. And I should point out that the Hub team are very clear that this launch iteration (a handsome site built by Lime Digital) is highly experimental and early-stage at this point. Further iterations will respond to the ways in which the public takes to this version, amongst other research and thinking – a responsive approach of which we highly approve at TH, of course!

It’s going to be fascinating to watch the proposition develop.


boardIts been a tad quiet round here, I know – but we’ve had our heads down on the UGC work we’re doing for Ofcom, and very interesting it’s turning out to be.

On Tuesday we held the first of 2 workshops with internal stakeholders, bringing together a dozen or so people from various departments. We’d initially intended to carve up the session into 4 or 5 discussions, but it became quickly apparent that this was a very smart group, with a lot to say, so in truth we really only got into 2 of our topics in any depth .

Which is fine – not least as the first of these is all around definition(s). In our research so far – both in our literature review and in our interviews – the definition of UGC which keeps coming up is the one that kicks off the OECD’s 2007 report Participative Web: User-Generated-Content:
“i) content made publicly available over the Internet, ii) which reflects a certain amount of creative effort, and iii) which is created outside of professional routines and practices.”

Here’s the thing about that definition, though. For a start, that report itself lays down this caveat: “There is no widely accepted definition of UCC, and measuring its social, cultural and economic impacts are in the early stages.” And, more importantly, it’s nigh-on 6 years old; it hardly needs to be said that things have moved on since then. Just as Clay Shirky used I Can Has Cheezburger and Ushahidi to illustrate the two extreme poles of value in mass online activity in 2011’s Cognitive Surplus, we might take the Arab Spring and 50 Shades fan fiction to illustrate the impact of UGC over the last two years. But the point remains: things have moved on, and fast.

So a definition of the area under consideration is a pressing one for us, and here’s how we tried to get the group thinking about one. We’ve been thinking all along that rather than think of UGC as a single type of activity, we should consider it a continuum. However, as we’ve been going along we’ve come to think that several continua are possible, but for the purposes of this session we stuck with just two:

  • The continuum of engagement – from a foursquare check-in to creating and releasing an album on bandcamp
  • The continuum of professionalism – from completely un-remunerated to the bordering-on-pro

Now you might already feel some objections surfacing, but bear with me.

The first thing we had the group do was a quick brain dump of examples of UGC: platforms, brands, overarching activity types and so on. We then got the group to start arranging these along the first continuum – an axis of engagement from barely engaged at all to pretty much fully engaged. And from the get-go, this proved tricky, throwing up as many new questions as it answered (a recurring theme of this project so far, as I’ve observed previously).

  • Surely some platforms/brands can stretch along almost the whole spectrum? After all, serious photographers and holiday snappers alike might use Flickr or even Instagram. Think similarly for YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud and so on.
  • Do we naturally tend to think of some forms – especially literary ones – as inherently more “engaged” than others?
  • Is engagement something which is even measurable?
  • Is curation by definition less engaged than “pure” creation? But then, is a mash-up an act of creation or curation?

You get the picture, this was never going to be easy. Noneletheless, after some spirited discussion we settled down on a consensus which looked something like this:

continuum of engagement

Next up, we got the team to rearrange the map’s elements along our second continuum, that of professionalism. Now again, we instantly ended up in tricky water, and especially around the terminology. It goes without saying that terms like “professional” and “amateur” are loaded. Turn them into isms and you exacerbate this. “Professionalism” generally denotes seriousness, skill, quality; “amateurism”, for most, is an insult. Now we’ll return to the arguments around this later – it’s surely going to be one of the key areas for us to ponder – but for the purposes of this exercise, we defined the term somewhat literally: this was an axis from making no money at all right though to pretty much making a career of it.

Notwithstanding the fact that, as with the previous mapping exercise, lots of these elements could – and do – stretch right across the spectrum (fully “pro” bands are now using bandcamp, for instance), we eventually agreed that things were looking like this:

continuum of professionalism

This struck us as fascinating. In the first mapping exercise, the majority of the content was moving towards “highly engaged”; in the second we all agreed that most of this activity was nonetheless a more-or-less amateur (as in not-paid) pursuit.

So who are all these people quite so highly engaged in non-money making activities, and more to the point: why?

That was the second part of our discussion on Tuesday and in our next post we’ll be attempting to answer that question looking at some of the social, political, financial and personal drivers of UGC.


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Ofcom is the UK’s communications regulator. Their role is to ensure people get the best from their communications services, are protected from scams and to ensure that competition thrives. In order to achieve these objectives Ofcom needs to understand all relevant areas, their impact on consumers and the UK economy and where regulation may need to be considered.

A fascinating emerging area is User Generated Content (UGC) and Ofcom’s Director of Internet Policy has recently appointed Turner Hopkins to help them develop a thought leadership position. In particular, we will help them to understand the importance of UGC to UK society and its economic impact, both now and 10 years hence.

We’ll be looking at user generated content through the lens of consumers, business and government. We’ll also be considering issues around: civil society, business models, technology, creativity and innovation. Our methodology includes desk research as well as interviews with people from the UGC community, commentators, researchers, business and other stakeholders.

We’ll be blogging and tweeting about the project as we go along, naturally. But, given the subject, it would be ironic not to invite contributions and suggestions from our readers, so if you would like to take part, please let us know.