Manifesto: Why I think we need non-commercial copyright

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Re: Manifesto: Why I think we need non-commercial copyright

Postby PeterBrett » Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:08 pm

A very well-thought-out analysis. Thanks Duke!
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Re: Manifesto: Why I think we need non-commercial copyright

Postby cc » Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:17 pm

My thoughts exactly. Cheers Duke.
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Re: Manifesto: Why I think we need non-commercial copyright

Postby samgower » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:24 am

duke wrote:Creators need to live.

A reasonable argument, but the only one there is against legalisation non-commercial sharing, and it is easily rebutted. It is demonstrable in most if not all cases that creators can earn money (sometimes more than they would otherwise) from ways other than a monopoly on a particular arrangement of images or sounds.

duke wrote:While there are other ways of remunerating creators for their work, at the moment it is my opinion that too many business models, both for companies and individuals rely on getting money directly from citizens in return for their work. Abandoning non-commercial copyright is too big a step too soon.

I recognise that an immediate change of copyright will create a bubble-bursting effect, but we are not advocating that the change be done overnight. Furthermore, it is not realistic to think that everyone will instantly switch to P2P. Remember, around 40% of the population does not have broadband and still relies on physical media. Methods like iTunes and Spotify ensure speed and quality of service.

duke wrote:While musicians might be able to survive in such an environment, it should be clear that a lack of n/c copyright will cause serious problems for TV industries, (book) authors, magazine writers, composers, professional photographers, software developers and every other case where you as an individual pay (either directly or through viewing adverts) a creator to experience their work. While the Open Source movement may be growing, it is worth nothing that legalising n/c file-sharing will make it very hard for anyone to sell software (including computer games - where there is little or no 'commercial' application). It is hypocritical of us to complain about the many "unintended consequences" of the DEB and then lobby for an end to non-commercial copyright.

There's a long list of things here. I'll try dealing with them in turn.

Television has always and will always rely on either the public sector or advertising for its money. This will not change. In fact, non-commercial sharing practically guarantees higher ratings, and thus higher advertising revenue. Yes, adverts are cut out of P2P versions of television shows, but they are less likely to be if the programmes were distributed straight from the source (first mover advantage means that the original distribution would have the most seeds, discouraging downloads from edited sources). A brilliant real world example of this model in action is Revision 3.

Revision 3 are a wildly successful television company that only distributes through the internet, be downloaded/streaming from their server, YouTube or by P2P. They deal with mostly informational shows, particularly focused on technology and geek culture, although they now have a wide range of comedy shows too, including stand-up and a sitcom. Far from feeling the pressure during the recession like traditional media companies, Revision 3 has actually expanded continuously over the last three or so years. Their model is simple: more downloads (from any source) means more viewers, more viewers means higher ad rates, higher ad rates means more profit.

This is an interesting one. Unlike film and music, there's no 'performance' aspect of a book. Most of them can't sell merchandise, although you certainly can with some books. What about advertising? Probably wouldn't go down well. I would argue that the future of books lies in physical copies (yes, dead trees) and digital sales.

Why will physical copies still persist, at least for now? The fact of the matter is that even in a world of mobile devices with e-ink screens and wireless connectivity, people still want to hold books and turn pages. Ask them why they prefer paper, and they can't tell you, they just do, it feels right. Will the same be true in a generation or two? Who knows. Perhaps we will have to look at the issue again then (in fact, I'm sure we will). For now, authors can reach a wide audience by allowing their books to be shared digitally, and make more money when a significant number of those translate into physical sales. Case in point, Cory Doctorow, although there are plenty of other examples.

And what about the digital side? While P2P can provide new, large things with great abundance, older things (even just a few months old) and smaller things tend not to be so popular. You may be able to get the latest John LeCarre book from The Pirate Bay in a few days (or perhaps hours) after release, but don't count on getting that obscure book you're looking for that only had one printing a few decades ago. I would absolutely buy a digital copy of a book I could not find by any other means, and I'm sure others would too. Maybe I'd share it, but if it's that rare, perhaps nobody else would want to copy it from me. I would also happily sign up to a subscription service if it meant I could instantly get any book, at any time, anywhere on a wireless e-reader.

One word: blogs. See Engadget, Perez Hilton, Techdirt, Huffington Post, etc. Another word: aggregation. See Digg, Reddit, etc.

Magazines and newspapers have seen a relatively steady transference over to the network, and I expect that this will continue with varying degrees of success. I also expect the market to shift from newspapers/magazines to journalists and aggregators (which may or may not be edited by people, machines or some combination of the two). Admittedly, how these people will be paid is up in the air, but there are various models emerging and this is undoubtedly an exciting time for journalism of all forms. We should watch this space with keen interest and reanalyse our policy once things really begin go fall into place.

When you buy software, you're not so much buying the software than you are the promise of support that goes along with it. I bought my Mac not only in the knowledge that it was a phenomenal machine running some of the best software in the world, but also that I could ring-up Apple at any time if something went horribly wrong, and that I would be guaranteed swift, high-quality updates for years to come. I paid a lot for both the hardware and software, but it was well worth it for the safety net.

If I could, would I have downloaded it for free? Maybe. But I would be limited in what I could do with it, not only because of whatever DRM measures it could have installed, but also because I could only use it for non-commercial purposes. If I wanted to use the software to help with my job, I'd be breaking the law. If I wanted to start a business with the help of the software, I'd be breaking the law. If I sold something on ebay, I'd be breaking the law. 'Non-commercial' means that they can't use it to make money in any way.

In any case, we are moving steadily towards a 'cloud computing' structure. Perhaps our current concept of software as something you run on your computer will become less clear-cut in the future, and certainly this is already happening for games. You can pirate a copy of World of Warcraft, but who cares, you've got to pay the subscription fee anyway. Halo 3 is only barely a single player game, it was clearly made to be multiplayer, reliant on Xbox Live. Xbox Live Arcade and various other internet software stores, including Steam and the iPhone App Store, are incredibly popular and still growing (although I am concerned that consoles/devices are generally linked to only one store).

The Other Things
I'm going to have to declare my ignorance of composition and photography. However, it seems to me that composers/songwriters and photographers rarely target the consumer market anyway, so perhaps this isn't a major problem.

duke wrote:It is my opinion that non-commercial copyright should remain an unlawful act. What should change (or rather, be more clearly defined) is the punishment for doing so. Something closer to an "on-the-spot fine" of no more than 5 times the product's minimum value if purchased legitimately for infringement would, in my opinion, be appropriate (obviously if something wasn't available legally, 5 x 0 = 0 and no fine could be made). No extra powers would be given to copyright owners to obtain evidence and with no restrictions on technologies that allow drm to be bypassed (and restrictions on drm) - which is included elsewhere in our manifesto - this would make file-sharing unlawful, but effectively as "safe" as it is today (or 10 years ago). The publishing industries would have to focus more on drawing consumers (which pirates are) to their legitimate sources, rather than driving them away from the unlawful ones.

The major flaw with this is that there would be no encouragement to move from free infringing services to non-free non-infringing ones. Nobody would even get fined, because there would be no way of finding out who did what. The distribution industry would still die a long, extended and painful death, but nothing would take its place.
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Re: Manifesto: Why I think we need non-commercial copyright

Postby samgower » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:40 pm

Moved to Copyright and Patents policy forum.
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