Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 18 Aug 05 14:01
I remembered Cory Doctorow's talk on the subject at Emerging Technologies, I think the same year Pogue was saying he didn't know DRM. Here's David Weinberger's account of Cory's talk from Joho the Blog (http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001433.html): "He says that the good news is that Napster built the largest collection of human creativity ever and did it totally bottom up. When the copyright law was used to 'burn that library to the ground,' the library rebuilt itself. The bad news is that the problem doesn't lie solely with Congress, the recording industry or Silicon Valley. It's our fault: there were 57 million Napster users. That's more than the number of votes W got in 2000. The real point is that copyright's purpose is to build libraries, and its tactic is to compensate artists. Napster and Kazaa don't have models for that and it's a real problem. DRM is the answer to a question we shouldn't be asking: How do we burn the library burned down for good? The real question is how do we come to some compromise by which there's fair compensation. The 'broadcast flag' isn't a compromise; it gives the entertainment industry a veto over PC design." That's a pretty good point about the potential power of 57 million Napster users. Is there a political organization that focuses on issues of copyright and fair use? How do we turn up the volume on the conversation about "free culture"?
from JOHN ADAMS (tnf) Fri 19 Aug 05 07:43
John Adams writes: I love Cory Doctorow's books, but sometimes his advocacy leaves me cold. Jon quotes a paraphrase of him thus: "He says that the good news is that Napster built the largest collection of human creativity ever and did it totally bottom up. When the copyright law was used to 'burn that library to the ground,' the library rebuilt itself." Isn't that a bit over-wrought? Was there a single piece of human knowledge permanently lost? It's not like the sacking of the library at Alexandria, you know. Anyway, copyright's purpose isn't "to build libraries" but (in the US, at least) "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." It'd be a much sorrier world without libraries, but they aren't what the constitution specifies. Cory's right to say that "The real question is how do we come to some compromise by which there's fair compensation," but I'm not sure his is the rhetoric that will arrive at that compromise.
JD Lasica (jd) Fri 19 Aug 05 16:24
Jon L., you've hit on the fundamental question in this wide-ranging debate: How do we find a solution so that people get the music, movies and art they want but in a way that compensates artists fairly? You could write a book about it, and some have. ("Promises to Keep," by William W. Fisher III) I was in awe of Napster for its sheer technological audacity, and for what it heralded, but there was no doubt that its failure to address the compensation-to-artists issue would be its Achilles heel. Some, like Fisher and the EFF and other smart folks, have suggested a blanket licensing approach, a sort of all-the-digital-media-you-can-eat plan in return for a mandatory fee assessed on some large category of users, such as every household with an Internet connection. (I don't think that's practicable, at least not in the near term.) Many members of the pho mailing list favor a voluntary licensing approach, which would require the music companies to sign on. I'd like to see more ecommerce models like the iTunes store, whose sales are skyrocketing, but whose traffic still pales next to the file-sharing networks. (I don't believe the p2p networks will ever be shut down, and I don't think their existence spells the end of the music industry.) What I think _can't_ stand in the long run is the current business model of the record companies. Of $11 billion in annual CD sales, artists receive _less than 5 percent_. By contrast, artists get 12 percent for songs sold in online music stores, on average. And they keep about 35 to 40 percent of concert proceeds. As more artists turn to the Internet to disintermediate the record labels, we'll all be watching to see if they can make a go of it financially. In many or most cases, I think new bands would be better off without a major label. As to your question: Is there a political organization that focuses on issues of copyright and fair use? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) and Public Knowledge (publicknowledge.org) are the two groups at the forefront of issues related to digital rights. Digitalconsumer.org has basically ceased operation. I'm in contact with Bernard M., a fellow I met at the AlwaysOn conference, who wants to set up a lobbying organization in Washington on behind of Silicon Valley to champion users' digital rights. If anyone wants to get involved, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can discuss how to proceed.
from DON HALL (tnf) Fri 19 Aug 05 20:18
Don Hall writes: Well members should purchase the Well ... this would be a good example of preserving a pioneer of internet spirit. J.D. Lasica, along with the genius brew who developed OurMedia will hopefully jump on board to help develop the truly portable PORTAL! Don Hall blogs as bearcreekresearch at ourmedia blogspot.com and podblazer. Wellllll !!
Berliner (captward) Sat 20 Aug 05 02:45
I quite agree that for 99% of the acts out there, indie is the way to go. The only kind of act which benefits from the mega-media approach are the mega acts: if you want to be Britney Spears, you're not just a girl with some songs, you're a battalion of lawyers, songwriters, stage designers, etc etc. For this you can't sign with some tiny label and expect to get anywhere. But jeez, guitar, bass, drums, van... How can Universal do anything for you that two relatively biz-savvy guys can't do -- and with a lot more attention to detail?
Theodore C Newcomb (nukem777) Sat 20 Aug 05 06:28
<scribbled by nukem777 Sat 20 Aug 05 14:42>
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sat 20 Aug 05 06:35
I'm thinking the same as #54, form a 501 corporation, and have the monthly or yearly subscription fees be considered as individual shares in the corp...4000 people isn't that hard to manage for yearly town hall type shareholder meetings, keep the staff, work out some arrangement with Salon to stay in place in the office space and merrily row our boat down the cyber stream... I'm sure more practical business minds will find all kinds of things wrong with this model. We ought to set up a conference to brainstorm various possibilities of structure, models, etc. the WELL might take -- like maybe it's time to spice it up with some conferences that take place in real-time chat mode and video-conferencing/net meetings...i mean, there is a certain charm in "covered wagons", but there's nothing wrong with a limo ride once and a while.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Sat 20 Aug 05 11:22
Uh, nukem, as the author of the copyrighted material you pasted in above, I ask that you scribble it and, if you like, paste in just the Darknet item and a link to the page. Thanks. The Well is sometimes dim, but it ain't dark.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Sat 20 Aug 05 11:35
And anyway, Sara Varon's illustration (not related to darknet) is really good this week, so it's worth going there for that... http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/20/technology/20online.html
Daniel (dfowlkes) Sat 20 Aug 05 12:13
<scribbled by dfowlkes>
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sat 20 Aug 05 14:48
sorry about that (mitchell), was just trying to save everyone the password screen. A nice article on Darknet in today's New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/20/technology/20online.ready.html?th&emc=th
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Sat 20 Aug 05 14:58
Thanks for reposting. No problem with the Darknet item itself being here. It was the wholesale paste that was problematic for me. THE new book "Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation," by J. D. Lasica, covers ground that's been pounded before: the often-draconian or clueless ways big entertainment companies try to control content or subvert emerging technologies, and how people work around those efforts by sharing content online often in walled-off, anonymous places like private Internet Relay Chat rooms and the Free Network Project (freenet.sourceforge.net). Mr. Lasica, a journalist, brings a storyteller's flair to the subject, but what really makes Darknet unique is that it was born online and lives there still at www.darknet.com. The book, just one part of the overall project, was written in collaboration with its audience via a wiki - a Web application that allows any user to add or edit content. At the site, Mr. Lasica and his readers continue to share news and expand on the ideas presented in the book. His site also offers many excerpts. "Darknet" was a term coined by a team of Microsoft researchers in 2002. According to Mr. Lasica's account, they advised that "media companies ought to use copy protection judiciously." "Because users don't like digital locks, somebody will figure out how to pick them, and content will spill into the Darknet despite the best efforts to wall it off. The best way companies can fight darknet piracy, they said, is by offering affordable, convenient, compelling products and services. In other words, the most effective copy protection system is a great business model." Big media have largely ignored that advice - to their peril, Mr. Lasica says. The industry's war on its own customers will just alienate them further, and darknets will thrive.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 20 Aug 05 15:19
Hallelujah, we've got our own copyright controversy and fair use resolution, right in the middle of the Darknet discussion! JD, I was pretty fascinated by Bruce Forest, who seems to have the best job in the world, drawing a salary for monitoring the digital underground. How did you find him?
JD Lasica (jd) Sat 20 Aug 05 15:32
Dan was generous in republishing a good percentage of his article; not everyone is equally so, even with a link. (It's an issue of fair use that WELL folk have come upon, oh, once or twice before.) Thanks for the nice writeup, Dan! My friends were beginning to think there was a concerted effort by "the media" to shun a book that is in large part about how big media don't get it -- how large media institutions are failing to respond to the creative ferment and burgeoning swirl of nascent media bubbling up from below. But now that three newspapers have actually published reviews or writeups (all positive), I'm more inclined to think that most book editors don't really understand (and thus have no incentive to acknowledge) the import of the changes taking place in the mediasphere. (As we both know, with hundreds of titles flooding into the newsroom, which ones get reviewed is a bit of a crapshoot -- and it's certainly not a decision made by corporate types with a political agenda.) By the way, if any San Franciscans are in da house: I'll be making my only bookstore appearance to talk about "Darknet" this Wednesday at 12:30 pm at Stacey's, at Market and Second.
JD Lasica (jd) Sat 20 Aug 05 15:39
Yes, Jon, Bruce Forest was probably the most interesting character I came across in my research. He's sort of a double agent -- filling up his hard drives with 2 terabytes of digital goodies in his forays through the Darknet (under various pseudonyms), while pulling down 6 figures (I suspect) doing consulting for a major entertainment company that you've heard of. I wish I could pull off the same trick! One of the people I interviewed put me on to him as an industry expert, but he had no idea what Forest was really up to. I flew out from SF to his retreat in the woods of Connecticut just to see first-hand what he told me over the phone, and it was quite an amazing setup Forest had in his underground high-tech bunker. We still swap emails once in a while. He's starting a new consulting business that offers to promote fledgling artists and indie filmmakers by injecting their media file (music, movie, tv show) directly into the top of the Darknet pyramid, where it then filters out onto millions of hard drives. Interesting business model.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Sat 20 Aug 05 15:44
From what admittedly little I know, book publishers are even more tech-phobic than most other media industries. I don't own my column, the Times does. Even just pasting in the Darknet thingie by itself may go beyond what they would consider fair use. I don't much care, as long as a link is provided, and like I said, only the germane material posted. The link part is what's important to me personally. A lot of copyright trouble can (and often is) avoided through simple courtesy. (Not meant to be a slam on nukem777). If everybody on all sides just remembered that other people have interests at stake in the use and re-use of material, I think common ground would more often be reached without anyone's having to call the cops.
Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Sat 20 Aug 05 15:44
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 21 Aug 05 09:53
I think there's confusion about copyright and fair use, and JD shows in the book that you get conflicting interpretations depending who you talk to. There's a quote in the book where Yale Law School's Ernet Miller says "The problem is that fair use analysis is increibly fact-dependent. Even copying a small amount of a copyright work as part of another, new work is a violation of copyright....For example, a few seconds in a videotape where portions of a copyrighted poster can be seen in the background have been found to meet the threshold for infringement. So, althought I would argue that such uses are fair uses, the courts might not agree." And that's the rub, it seems to me. Even smart people don't always get it. I had a gig for a while monitoring forums for a large international news site, and one guy persisted in posting infringing material, and gave us hell when we removed it. I think he took it all the way to the management of the news organization... then got quiet. He talked to an editor he knew at one of the sites he was quoting, who told him it was okay - but the site policy said different, and regardless what the editor said, the lawyers might've had a different opinion. Bloggers get away with potential infringement when they're small, but as they grow their followings and become more like real media, aren't we going to see more and more litigation - and more tests of "fair use"?
it was already on fire when I got here! (jet) Sun 21 Aug 05 20:31
<jonl>, I've had similar discussions at my workplace. Waving Section 107 at people simply doesn't matter when they're defining "fair use" as "I can have anything I want and I shouldn't have to pay for it." Oddly enough, they don't mind my developing software that forces our customers to pay us a subscription fee, but they went ballistic when we banned P2P at the office.
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Sun 21 Aug 05 20:39
Another question while we're at it: Tonight I went to see the 'director's cut' of the Blood Gulch Chronicles Season 3. How is this this crew has managed to get Microsoft on board with what they're doing? It's incredible viral marketing for Halo, sure, but that hasn't stopped big media outlets from hounding fan web sites and fan creations before. Is this a case of what you mention about the high tech companies 'getting it' a bit more readily than Hollywood or the music industry?
JD Lasica (jd) Sun 21 Aug 05 21:56
jonl at 68 asks: >Bloggers get away with potential infringement when they're small, but as they grow their followings and become more like real media, aren't we going to see more and more litigation - and more tests of "fair use"? In a word, yes. Not quite time to hit the panic button yet, but awareness of the law's contours is always a good thing. Lauren Gelman of Stanford's Center for Internet & Society gives a 4-minute video primer on the subject here: http://www.archive.org/download/JDLasicaLaurenGelmanonbloggersthelaw/Lauren_Ge lman.mov
JD Lasica (jd) Sun 21 Aug 05 22:03
Emily, I think the tech companies get it to the extent that they understand that power is passing to the users and consumers, and they aren't reliant on protecting a top-down funnel of a business model. They're in the business of making really cool products that people want. (And, obviously, they don't face the problem of how, and whether, to protect creative content, for the most part.) I haven't watched the "Blood Gulch Chronicles" on USA Network or elsewhere, so can you explain a bit more about bringing Microsoft on board? What does that mean?
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Mon 22 Aug 05 03:43
In a nutshell, this group has been scripting an animated series, and making the animation by moving avatars around in an Xbox game, Halo, and capturing the video. They pretty much are the pioneers of "machinima."
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 22 Aug 05 05:42
Check 'em out - the video archive is at http://rvb.roosterteeth.com/archive/
It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Mon 22 Aug 05 07:09
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