Category Archives: Copyright

The Nazi Monkeys ©

Nazi Monkey

Photo: sindicato de la imagen. Used under licence.

Paul Carr recently did a blog post entitled Mentioning the Arctic Monkeys to prove a copyright point is the new Godwin’s law which states:

Seriously – can anybody send me a link to a single decent argument for reforming copyright law in favour of thieves? Just one. Or better still, does anyone who argrees with Arrington/Welsh want to write a guest post on the subject for this blog?

……

First convincing economic argument wins. Closing date – I dunno, whenever. I suspect it might take a while for someone to prove Arrington right on this particular subject. Those pigs aren’t going to teach themself to fly.

I’m sure Mike Arrington can stick up for himself and I’m equally aware of the link bait/book promoting aspect of Paul’s post – but needs must.

To look at the economic argument, you must first understand how the rules of the game have changed and why, therefore, existing norms now need to be updated to these new circumstances.

So what has changed?

0. The network is the computer
It’s become a precondition of technological devices to have computer and/or Internet connectivity.

1. The production chain has gone digital.
Audio, video and text production is now possible to produce in an end-to-end digital chain.

2. The distribution chain has gone digital.
Moving digital voice, video or text is only a matter of how fast you can do it.

3. The means of production and distribution have been decentralised.
The rise of the PC and the Internet to connect them.

4. The cost of digital storage has fallen.
Cost per MB now makes storage of vast quantities of data seem reasonable.

5. The speed of broadband has risen.
Moving vast quantities of data now seems reasonable.

6. The open source model has given developers an open platform.
If no one owns the platform then no one controls it.

7. The open standards model has given innovative companies a level playing field.
Open standards allows new ecosystems to develop and grow unhindered by incumbent players.

8. The increase in instant communication and social networking tools.
We now live in a world where the mobile phone, instant messaging and sharing links to data is the norm.

9. The use of digital content as cultural shorthand.
YouTube, Dailymotion, Flickr, Photobucket, WordPress, Blogger, etc.

Combined these have lowered barriers to entry, encouraged innovation and allowed data to be shared freely.

How have these changes affected the cultural environment?
https://digitalrightsmanifesto.wordpress.com/2006/11/11/my-future/

What do you see as the digital future?

5 years out – Explosion in cheap consumer products that theoretically allows you to have digital content “anytime, any place anywhere”. Network architecture that doesn’t. Spectrum sale warms up. Computer gaming continues to grow as the pastime for teenagers. Convergence of electronic products is the norm. Fracturing of channels accelerates with growth in “online only” broad/pod/vod/IPcasters. Sky and BT merge. IPTV starts to be seen as a viable distribution model. Mainstream broadcasters content struggles to compete with online user generated content and consumers find access to content not an issue but finding the time to watch it the constraint. Branding imperative to “tag” your content, as people may well consume it without ever using your delivery vehicle. Standards and DRM come to the fore as delivery companies try to tie you into their preferred platform. Mobile delivery considered to be the next big thing (and this time we mean it!)

10 years out – Network architecture catches up. Sky/BT have their 21st Century Network in place, the BBC is delivering digital-only content (Except for FM still!) and shooting everything in HD – so is everyone else – network architecture falls behind again. Those who bought the freed up spectrum try to sweat every bit of content for as much revenue as possible to get a return on investment. Online archive of past week’s linear broadcast available on-demand and can be streamed as live. Channels fracture some more as IPTV allows for thousands of channels. Spectrum no longer the scarce resource, so BBC’s Unique Selling Point is primarily it’s quality. Mobile delivery considered to be the next big thing (and this time we mean it! No, really we do!)

20 years out – Network architecture catches up. Online archive of past year’s linear broadcast available on-demand and can be streamed as live. Ultra High Definition on the horizon – network architecture falls behind again. Mobile delivery considered to be the next big thing (and this time we mean it! No really we do! You just watch!)

https://digitalrightsmanifesto.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/marginal-cost-of-zero-or-substitute-goods/

What is really happening with the convergence of electronic appliances is not necessarily the shifting of all content to one platform but the freedom to substitute one digital good for another, both of which are in competition for the scarce resource – time.

The marginal cost of production – where a digital reproduction is claimed to have a zero marginal cost, as you still have the original but I have a perfect copy for free, as the cost of storage heads to zero, – is missing the point as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t wish to consume something only because it is free.

When the substitutable alternatives available to me are free of cost but require my investment of time then I have no incentive to add a monetary cost to the equation.

If what you have to offer costs me in monetary terms and time then you need to add value in a way that turns the substitute good into a complementary one.

The trick is to recognise who in the market are playing by the economic rules (mostly the consumers on the Internet) and who are seeking protectionist measures (mostly the rights holders – DRM etc.) and to show those seeking protection from the market how rational the market actually is behaving and that if they innovate, they can reposition themselves from being protectionists in a declining business model to being on the growth curve in a new business model.

https://digitalrightsmanifesto.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/marginal-cost-of-zero-or-substitute-goods-redux/

Once your stuff goes digital you have to compete with free.

Free is not a bad/good thing in itself but it is important that you recognise it as your starting point.

Adding value to the experience is where the sweet spot is in terms of being on the upward growth curve.

I won’t jump into the straw man argument of arguing for reforming copyright in favour of thieves but I will make the case that any law which states that format shifting is illegal – thus making everyone with an MP3 player guilty – is one which is being infringed on such a scale as to make it meaningless. 

Marginal cost of zero or substitute goods – Redux!

(Or how I learned to stop worrying and love economics AGAIN!)

Dr_Strangelove_Redux

Following my original post – which induced some head scratching in some BBC people – I’ve revisited this idea in more detail:

If I have only a set number of hours in the day to watch/listen/read what you have to offer and I can now carry/sit at/watch a device which allows me to do any or all of these functions, and more, then the scarce resource isn’t the spectrum required to deliver the audio/video or the printing press required to deliver the text – but the scarce resource is my time. Using DRM to try and create a scarce resource (which is what DRM really tries to do) where there is none is flawed – more so, when there is a valid scarce resoruce already to hand!

Why is my time the scarce resource?

If I have a device which lets me treat all of these separate functions like one act – instead of having to decide whether I buy this newspaper or that one, whether to listen to this radio station or that one, whether to watch this programme or that one – I get to decide whether to read this newspaper or watch this programme, whether to listen to this station or read this article, etc. – then I can switch between one digital version of content and another without distinguishing between them as being completely different media. So I can substitute one for another.

Now the guys in the audio business are in competition with the video and text guys as well as the other guys in audio for a limited slice of my time. The video guys are in competition with the audio and text guys as well as the other video guys for a limited slice of my time. The text guys are in competition with the audio and video guys as well as the other text guys for a limited slice of my time.

Once content people start to realise that to make their content compelling they have to ensure that the text they have also has the appropriate audio and video links and vice versa, then they too realise that each bit of content is in some ways a substitute for the other – but by putting it all together in one space it makes the need for me to substitute one for another unnecessary. Make this offering compelling enough and it means I just use you for all my audio, video and text needs (free and paid-for) – thus instead of substituting one content/provider for another I see all your offerings as one complementary piece.

The convergence of electronic devices doesn’t mean I will eventually use only one device for everything but what it does mean is any of the devices I will have will be able to display all the various types of media and either I will swap the digital content between them quite easily or the digital content will live in the cloud and all the devices will be connected continuously to the cloud and to each other.

This gets more disrupted by some of the digital content being free of any economic cost. Therefore, because I can substitute one offering for another – I can read the blog entry which has the YouTube links to what I’m interested in or I can pay to read your article which has links to the official video which I also must pay for (and is in a proprietary format which will only play on one of the platforms I move my media around on) – you had better makes what you have worth paying for because there is no incentive for me to pay, if both cost the same amount of my time.

Now some make the case that all information should be free but that is not what my argument is. Just because something is free doesn’t make it worth spending my time on – but when all digital content (audio/video/text) can be reproduced and put online for little or no cost then your offering must compete with free. There is no point ignoring this concept or hoping to sue it or technologically defeat it out of existence.

What you can do is recognise that free is your starting point and then add value to various offerings that you have that make investing economically worthwhile – so you can have a free low quality version which has a link to the free medium quality (nagging) ad supported version which has a link to the paid-for high quality, personalised download from the content producer’s distribution system.

With the rapid growth in storage capacity, for a much cheaper price per megabyte, then people are making the argument that the cost of a digital reproduction is, in effect, zero – two much repeated examples at the moment are Chris Andersons’s “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business” and Kevin Kelly’s “Better Than Free”

Both build their arguments implicitly on the demise of geographically restricted rights agreements – which is premature. But what they do correctly show, is that by taking the thing that makes the Internet so scary for rights holders (anyone can copy my stuff) and make that into a virtue (anyone can copy my stuff) then you begin to use the Internet, it’s community and your digital content to great effect.

Another article that gets repeated is a TechDirt one – “Saying You Can’t Compete With Free Is Saying You Can’t Compete Period”. I think the assumptions in this are flawed – but it does use “the marginal cost is zero” argument.

Once your stuff goes digital you have to compete with free.

Free is not a bad/good thing in itself but it is important that you recognise it as your starting point.

Adding value to the experience is where the sweet spot is in terms of being on the upward growth curve.

And that is the argument I was making.

Marginal cost of zero or substitute goods?

(Or how I learned to stop worrying and love economics)

Dr. Strangelove (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb)

(Update 07/04/2008 – See this post for a plain english version)

I have one hour to spare

Do I:

Listen to a live broadcast in the hope of serendipity or the podcast I have lined up?

Click on the YouTube and DailyMotion links I have in an email or go to the on-demand offerings from the broadcasters to catch the programme I missed last night?

Follow the links in a story I’m reading online or do I catch up on the RSS feed?

Post a blog entry or update my Flickr photostream?

Listen to the podcast or watch the YouTube/DailyMotion videos?

Read the links in the story or update my photostream?

In economic terms:

Is it that all digital information must be free or that all digital goods are perfect/imperfect substitutes and if one is free then this is your price floor?

Is it the average cost versus the marginal cost of a digital item or the average cost of one item versus the marginal cost of another where all goods are perfect/imperfect substitutes?

Is one digital good a perfect substitute for another or is it that the scarce resource is time and the choice of goods determined by the lowest barrier to entry where goods are imperfect substitutes but the means of delivering them makes substituting one for another more advantageous than the pursuit of the original?

What value can you add to a perfect/imperfect substitute to make it a complementary good?

So:

What is really happening with the convergence of electronic appliances is not necessarily the shifting of all content to one platform but the freedom to substitute one digital good for another, both of which are in competition for the scarce resource – time.

The marginal cost of production – where a digital reproduction is claimed to have a zero marginal cost, as you still have the original but I have a perfect copy for free, as the cost of storage heads to zero, – is missing the point as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t wish to consume something only because it is free.

When the substitutable alternatives available to me are free of cost but require my investment of time then I have no incentive to add a monetary cost to the equation.

If what you have to offer costs me in monetary terms and time then you need to add value in a way that turns the substitute good into a complementary one.

The trick is to recognise who in the market are playing by the economic rules (mostly the consumers on the Internet) and who are seeking protectionist measures (mostly the rights holders – DRM etc.) and to show those seeking protection from the market how rational the market actually is behaving and that if they innovate, they can reposition themselves from being protectionists in a declining business model to being on the growth curve in a new business model.

Links for substitute goods:
http://www.economist.com/research/Economics/alphabetic.cfm?LETTER=S#substitutegoods
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substitute_good
http://www.economicswebinstitute.org/glossary/substitute.htm

Links for complementary goods:
http://www.economist.com/research/Economics/alphabetic.cfm?letter=C#complementarygoods
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complement_good

Links for marginal cost
http://www.econmodel.com/classic/terms/mc.htm
http://www.economist.com/research/Economics/alphabetic.cfm?letter=M#marginal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marginal_cost

Links for average cost:
http://www.econmodel.com/classic/terms/ac.htm
http://www.economist.com/research/Economics/alphabetic.cfm?term=average#average
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Average_total_cost

Wonderful, insightful comments and points

Copyright issues examined wonderfully, in an enlightened way from both sides.

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/10/24/time_to_clear_up_the_murk_about_oink.html

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/20/the-generational-divide-in-copyright-morality/

Follow up post by David Pogue:

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/27/readers-respond-to-the-debate-over-responsible-downloading/

Ever get the feeling it’s not just a coincidence?

What looked like an interesting story at the end of the year in The Washington Post about the RIAA claiming ripped CDs are “unauthorised copies” then got a twist with The Post issuing a correction, which some thought was worthy of a correction of it’s own.

At the same time, on the other side of the pond, the same issue, which had been extensively examined and clearly ruled upon by Andrew Gowers, became a topic for consultation for the new minister for Intellectual Property.

Wired revisited the RIAA stance and was very adament that the intention was very clear:

So, to sum up, the RIAA does believe that a majority of American music buyers are thieving criminals, but it’s not going to sue anyone over ripping MP3s because) a) it’s not really a big deal to them anymore b) there’s no real way to find out and/or c) it would be terrible publicity to sue someone for using an iPod.

And now has revisited the topic again:

The RIAA doesn’t believe Americans have any right — or Fair Use legal defense — to play copyrighted material on the device and in the format of their choosing.

That belief has been and will continue to be a threat to innovation and new technology.

The failure to recognize that simple truth will blow back in the form of more draconian public policies and laws, as well as more crippled devices.

This is not an industry looking for new business models, or using technology to ensure rights are respected, but looking to put all the evil back into Pandora’s Jar – which is hugely ironic given that Pandora has left the building!

Get your retaliation in first!

The Pirate Bay logo

Got an iPod?

You’re a PIRATE!

Got an MP3 player?

You’re a rampent copyright infringer!

Got a media centre? Got a computer?

You should pay for each digital copy you make and not be allowed to resell the original.

These are some of the “retaliate first” views expressed by the BPI and AIM on a consultation on copyright in the digital age by Lord Triesman, the UK’s Minister for Intellectual Property.

I would advise anyone who has a vested interest (i.e. anyone who owns an iPod/Mp3 Player/Media Centre/etc.) in providing a bit of a balanced view to have their voice heard by participating in the consultation process.

UK IPO, an Executive Agency of DIUS, has started a public consultation on copyright in the digital age. This is a follow up to the Gowers review of intellectual property.

The press release from DIUS is here:
http://www.dius.gov.uk/Press/08-01-08.html

The UK IPO public submission page is here:
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/about/about-consult/about-formal/about-formal-current/consult-copyrightexceptions.htm

Some of the initial press reaction:

BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7176538.stm

The Register
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/08/copyright_reform/

Ars Technica
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080108-uk-wants-to-make-cd-rips-legal-at-last.html

Salient story getting legs for the end of 2007

This story – about the RIAA claiming ripped CDs are “unauthorized copies” – is getting legs just as the year ends.

First reported by Ars Technica on December 11th., it’s gotten renewed legs with an article in The Washington Post.

Kinda sums up the year for the music industry.

File sharing=copyright infringement?

Irish Examiner article:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-qqqg=ireland-qqqm=ireland-qqqa=ireland-qqqid=34627-qqqx=1.asp

Digital Rights Ireland:

http://www.digitalrights.ie/2007/06/07/23-filesharers-to-be-identified-but-concerns-remain/

Canadian documentary on piracy.

PiracyDocumentary.com 

On Piracy: On Piracy & The Future of Media

Part one:

Part two:

Musical Myopia, Digital Dystopia: New Media and Copyright Reform

McGill University’s Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and the Schulich School of Music hosted a one-day copyright conference entitled “Musical Myopia, Digital Dystopia: New Media and Copyright Reform”.

Webcast of it here – with good quality video (Windows Media) and slides.

Video.Google upload:

The video is 3 1/2 hours long – so here’s the running order on the day:

9:00 – 9:15 DEANS’ WELCOME (Don McLean, Dean of Music – Nicholas Kasirer, Dean of Law)

9:15 – 10:45 THE DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT DILEMMA

– David Lametti, McGill Faculty of Law (moderator)
– Bruce Lehman, International Intellectual Property Institute
– Ann Chaitovitz, US Patent and Trademark Office
– Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law
– Terry Fisher, Harvard University

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:30 POLICY RESPONSES AND REACTIONS

– Sunny Handa, Blakes / McGill Faculty of Law (moderator)
– Charlie Angus, NDP
– Charles Morgan, McCarthy Tétrault
– Sandy Pearlman, McGill Faculty of Music

Found via Derek Slater’s blog entry and Michael Geist’s blog entry.

23C3 – Lawrence Lessig – On Free, and the Differences between Culture and Code

Depressing! :-( Wonderful! :-)

Depressing: – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/12/04/pretext_mpaa/

Wonderful: – http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2006/12/curtains_for_mu.php

It’s been that kinda day!

A roadmap and a destination for the future

A “must-read” for anyone who wants to know strategically what the digital future is.

Part 1 – IPTV/VoD: The world that’s on its way

Part 2- IPTV/VoD: The world that’s on its way

Part 3 – IPTV/VoD: The world that’s on its way

One small step for a man….

TheRegister.co.uk article on BPI thinking of “allowing” people to make copies of CDs.

Audio from OUT-LAW.com here.

Next week…..BPI to okay people using random play option.

The title of the article says it all.

Big labels are f*cked, and DRM is dead

An anthem for the Digital Age!

Don’t download this song by “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Quotes:

“…they’ll treat you like the evil, hard-bitten, criminal scum you are..”

“… even Lars Ulrich knows it’s wrong.”

Intellectual Property (UK) – links

The Patent Office on Intellectual Property

Intellectual-Property.gov.uk on what is Intellectual Property.

Guardian technology article on copyright

Guardian article – Who will lobby for our right to copy?

Quote:
“The recording industry’s imposition of its own contract law – which can last forever – on top of the laws of copyright can, as the British Library has pointed out, override “fair use” provisions and even end copies for the disabled. The government should resist industry pressures to nail down costly long-term restrictions when the digital revolution is making content cheap and accessible.”

Copyright.com

http://www.copyright.com/

Is it a copyright issue or a business model issue?

The “art” of recording, re-authoring and redistributing digital content is one that perplexes many in the content industries. The tool that they have for protecting their product is copyright – but when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Is copyright the problem or is it the lack of a business model to fit this new digital age?

I fear people are getting too caught up in the copyright issue and not
enough in the business model issue – trying to persuade those, who live in fear of losing their livelihoods, that they are holding on to an outmoded legal concept will lose you both the argument and the attention of those who want to listen.

This is an exciting time to be involved in digital media because the
opportunities are there for those who are bright enough to
come up with the new ideas.

People will listen because their livelihoods depends on it.

There are new business models which will drive the new digital age – we just have to sell them properly to those who have a vested interest in buying into them.