Wednesday, June 16

Creative industries a major driver of economic growth

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KUALA LUMPUR: The term ‘Creative Industry’ which was first coined in the UK in 1994, refers to that segment of the economy that is involved either directly or indirectly in the creation, manufacture, production, broadcast and distribution of copyright protected materials.For a long time the absence of data hampered any decision-making in policy development towards their growth and little was known of their relevance and contribution to the economy.

Nevertheless, creative industries — despite being an emerging field of study, have already come to constitute an important sphere of practice representing an important sector of the ‘new economy’.

In 1998, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the UK carried out the first attempt at mapping out the bundle of activities termed the creative industries, their size and impact on the economy.

The results of its Creative Industries Mapping Study provided the background justification for government support.

To raise awareness on the important role played by the creative industries, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), in 2003, conducted a series of surveys focused on defining and mapping out the creative industries, and their economic contribution in over 30 countries worldwide.

“The idea was to gain a more accurate picture of the creative industry’s contribution to the economy, promote creativity and Intellectual Property (IP) rights, and raise awareness and understanding of the importance of copyright as a contributor to the economy,” WIPO’s acting director for Creative Industries Division, Dr Dimiter Gantchev told Bernama.

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind like inventions, literary and artistic works; and symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce.

It is the bedrock of the creative industries, yet many companies fail to appreciate its value, and so underestimate the need to protect their IP rights.

The surveys’ results provided indisputable evidence that the creative industries are indeed economically significant and are comparable to other high profile sectors in terms of their contribution to income, employment and trade.

Therefore, they rightly deserve the attention and support commensurate their increasingly significant role in the economic progress of the nation.

Realising that Malaysia needs to define and identify the creative industries in the country and in turn, protect the IP generated by these industries, WIPO, in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Cooperation of Malaysia (MyIPO), subsequently conducted a similar survey for Malaysia in 2007.

According to Gantchev, as an active member of WIPO, Malaysia is giving priority in the development of its IP infrastructure and is actively contributing to consensus building on

IP in the multilateral framework.

The survey, which was based on data collected from the Department of Statistics for the five-year period from 2000 to 2005, was completed in 2008.

The undertaking revealed that the creative industries recorded an annual growth rate of 11.1 per cent, surpassing the national growth rate of 6.6 per cent.

Employment expansion in the creative industries registered a growth of 10.7 per cent: more than three times the national employment growth of 3.3 per cent.

Further, creative industries contributed 5.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounted for 1.0 per cent of national exports, and 7.5 per cent of nationwide employment.

These statistics are the ‘smoking gun’ that conclusively proved creative industries are a major driver of economic growth in Malaysia.

“The figures demonstrate that creative industries are the drivers of the economy, are more dynamic than many of the other sectors in Malaysia, and have managed to cushion the effect of the 2005 global recession,” said Dr Vijatakumari Kanapathy, the independent consultant who carried out the survey.

The realisation has put the spotlight on the need to recognise and protect the IP rights as a fundamental prerequisite for growth in the creative industries in Malaysia.

The path to a successful local creative industry policy is a complex journey of navigating, supporting and endorsing international, regional and national laws, conventions and agreements.

Strong intellectual property laws are fundamental to the creative industries’ ongoing ability to produce and deliver creative works to the marketplace.

Indeed, as the economy shifts towards a service-orientated structure, the ability to identify ownership and control of intellectual property will become more relevant.

Subsequently, at the WIPO-Malaysia National Seminar on the Creative Industries held here recently, the first sector to be given the prominence of discourse was the Malaysian film industry.

In his keynote address at the seminar, the Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob highlighted the need to explore and exploit to its fullest, the potentials of the IP generated by the creative industries, in our quest to become a developed nation.

“This seminar relates how IP operates in the film industry. It is the first in a series of seminars committed to IP awareness outreach and education for sector-specific players within the creative industry,” MyIPO director general, Kamel Mohamad said.

“With regards to the survey, the results suggest that there is a need to conduct further in-depth studies on the IP rights connected with sector-specific creative industry, in order to identify issues and challenges, and formulate policies for their protection and growth,” Kamel added.

The filmmaking business is a bewildering patchwork of IP rights.

From the initial script, screenplay and soundtrack right down to the location footage, there are clearance issues to consider with regard to Copyright, Trademark, Moral Right and Publicity Right.

These IP belong to the original creator.

There must be written evidence that proves the producer is in control of these underlying rights. — Bernama