People are using digital cameras and camera phones in Japan to photograph pages of magazines and books instead of buying them.

Starting on Tuesday, bookstores across the nation will put up posters urging magazine readers to "refrain from recording information with camera-mounted cellphones and other devices".

I know several people who use digital cameras as document storage devices. Just yesterday, I saw a very cool camera mount for taking pictures of documents with your digital camera. In the context of copyright, there are some very interesting issues here that tie into the whole area of photography copyright.

via imajes via #joiito bot blog

16 Comments

Cool blog - i love it.
I've added you to my blogroll.
Can you blogroll me baby!

Thanks a lot
Martin

the original story was on the bbc - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3031716.stm

very interesting subject...

Interesting that as this story hits, Slashdot runs another story over dismissing a copyright infringement claim involving thumbnail use.

http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/03/07/07/2141216.shtml?tid=123&tid=152&tid=185&tid=99

Where does copyright begin and end. Will it become illegal to take a picture of a billboard? Can you be arrested for snapping a quick shot of someone's haircut?
On one side it is OK for a magazine to publish candid shots of young peoples fashions without a model release so long as the individual is not identifiable. But now it is illegal for an individual to take a picture of those same fashions now that they have been put in a magazine?

As the battle over intellectual property continues to escalate it is clear who holds the upper hand in Japan.

Kakyou, i guess the difference between this story and the examples you give is that the magazines are intended for sale - you would normally exchange money for them... Whereas someone taking a photo of you (legal issues notwithstanding) is not robbing you of any income, nor is taking a picture of a billboard because you don't pay to look at/read them...

Pete, I think Kakyou's example was of fashion magazines making money selling issues with pictures of random people taken from the streets w/o their consent, let alone giving those individuals a cut of the profits. If I can't take a picture of a magazine for reference because their business model depends on me paying for it for that very purpose, is it fair for the publisher to charge others for what are essentially pictures of me they gathered from the streets thanks to my fashion sense? :)

hey matt,

that's a fair one. but it's not the magazines who've introduced this ban - it's the bookstores themselves. i didn't mean to sound harsh towards Kakyou, but I just don't think the comparisons work particularly well in this case. (sorry!)

I've written a lot of magazine and book content, and whilst I would have no problem if i saw someone photographing my work, I can see why the publisher would; after all, they've invested in the publication and their survival in business depends on it. In this instance, the bookstores have introduced the ban (and not the publishers - they've already made their money selling it to the distributer or bookstore after all...) because someone photographing the content means one less sale and therefore less profit. And, after all, the fact that someone is going to the trouble of photographing this content means it has value for them.

Personally, I use my phone to document things that i see; always have done since i got a camera phone. So I'm no angel, but I can also see why the 'other side' is objecting to this... I haven't thought it through *that* much, but I can't actually think of an argument to justify photographing this kind of thing.

Maybe if *you* were photographed in a magazine, you would have an argument to want to photograph *it*...

I’ll be the first to admit that bookstores have every right to ban cameras from their premises. However, I am concerned by both the method and the scope of this reaction to technological developments. I’d also like to see that numbers of revenue lost due to cell phone camera use stores. I find it hard to believe that stares are losing sales due to camera phones for the following reasons.

1) The quality of a cell phone camera coupled with the environment inside a store is just not ideal for any kind of replication. Even with the newest phones, the final result would be far inferior to the original and therefore hold a much lower commercial value. (see the article I mentioned above re: thumbnails). The time and effort required to copy a substantial amount of a publication would be worth more to most people than the actual cost of the publication.

2) If we are only talking about a few snapshots, How many people actually purchase a magazine because of a couple of pages? How many of the people who take a snapshot of the page would have purchased the magazine in the first place? Test this out yourself. Go to a bookstore/convenience store and watch how many people reading from a magazine rack actually purchase anything, camera or no camera. If stores are so against people viewing materials without paying, why don’t they put plastic bags over the magazines to prevent people from viewing without paying first? The answer is simple. Stores recognized this pattern and adjusted their business model to take advantage of their customers culture. What I see in this move is not proactive measures addressing new culture and technology, but a knee-jerk reaction to the fear that someone might be getting enjoyment without paying for it.

I fully support an artists right to protect their livelihood. I support business and have no problem with the concept that businesses are there to make money - Period. I just have difficulty believing that panicky tactics like this are in anyone’s best interests. Instead of looking at the new technology and change in customer culture, we are seeing a reaction to build up walls to keep the changes out (see the RIAA for details). Let’s not forget that EVERYTHING is owned. It’s almost impossible to go outside and take a picture without capturing something that is privately owned or copyrighted. What’s next? No cameras in Disneyland because you might use it to take a picture of Mickey Mouse(™)? Remember that the primary focus of business should be to make money, not to stop people from enjoying something without paying. And in today’s world, these two concepts are not mutually inclusive.


That'l be 2 cents please.

Interesting enough topic, Joi, but what does this have to do with moblogging? As far as I can tell, the bookstores are asking people not to take pictures of copyrighted material. Does this mean they have "banned" moblogging, as the rather sensationalist title suggests?

Will agree with Gary that using the term moblogging to incorporate all photos taken with a mobile phone, whether uploaded onto a blog or not, is a stretch on the syntax.

The copyright issues are interesting and no doubt need much discussion. Again technology outstrips the ethics and legal issues.

Kakyou: yes. I think I may have been looking at this in a too much of a simplistic way. The subject of technology questioning our values and ethics is *very* interesting (as Tracey pointed out).

A confession: I have regularly bought magazines because of one or two pages (i.e. a good article) and subsequently found *nothing* else of interest in there! But, in this instance taking photo's of the pages with my camera would not have yielded a decent enough copy of the piece to read - purchase (or reading in store) would have been the only choice.

You raise a good point about actually browsing and reading in stores. I believe some publishers (magazines in particular) seal their monthlies in plastic bags (and ususally include a 'free' low value gift with it) in order to get around this happening. But, the fact remains that people can and do read these magazines in stores without making a purchase... This is a good comparison.

Well, I guess the best plan right now, is to make sure you do use your camera phone in such shops - but maybe have a basket of stuff with you too - see how many people they eject before sales really do start declining.

Time to mob...

OK OK. I agree. "moblogging" is not the right word. I changed the title. My excuse was that I was in an airport and in a hurry. Do you agree that it's hard to think of a short title for this item? ;-)

The past couple comments seem to indicate two parties with similar objectives (get customers to pay), but who might find it in their better interest to start working together more concretely w.r.t. the camera-phone issue. In fact, it all seems to revolve around when exactly the periodical should be purchased before it is consumed after a certain point.

At first Pete mentioned that the stores themselves have a vested interest to ban mobile-capturing since the publishers have already received their pay (which I think is only partly true; I was under the impression that at least in the states, distributers can return overstock; i apologize in advance if i'm wrong); but the last comment mentions publishers sealing the material so that it is purchased before consumed. I am reminded of an explanation by a colleague detailing why convenience stores place their magazine racks by the entrance -- it's so that passers-by feel encouraged to join in the crowd (this *is* a society built upon the concept of "group" mentality after all :). So it seems the bookstore would actually want an *unsealed* package; after all, anything to keep a customer *inside* the store...

I obviously won't reach upon a solution to all of this, but seeing as at the moment camera-phone resolution is only at the point of stimulating sales (can you *really* read a whole article?), i agree that stores are jumping the gun a bit. After all, wasn't the VCR supposed to kill Hollywood? Elvis and the Beatles were supposed to be a bad influence, right? And let's not forget the *increase* in CD sales as Napster dominated the media. The Japanese aren't exactly known for their open and forward-thinking mentality, unfortunately.

I'm sure the BBC had the same problem coming up with their headline... Too bad that they are a BIG BAD news organisation and, since the superiority of blogging will take over the publishing universe, they will have to DIE.

Fortunately, according to the authorities, if enough people believe the earth is flat, it becomes the truth.

This is all so... liberating!?!

Dirk

Joi: You gave credit to imajes for this link, but I pasted it into your IRC channel severl days before and tried to get a conversation going about it. You were there. Doesnt matter but I wanted to mention this.

Kakyou: Actually this is a problem for both the bookstores and the publishers here. If you spend even a little time in a bookstore in Shibuya, Shinjuku or Ikebukuro you will see many young women and to a much lesser extent young men doing this very thing. The phone camera resolution is not great but it is "good enough". Also as to how much of the magazine might get photographed or even would be of interest, I asked my wife and several of her friends if they would buy a fashion magazine if only two pictures interested them. The answer was yes all around. From the stores and publishers perspective, if one or two pictures is enough to sell a magazine, two camera pictures represent a lost sale.

Magazine publishers here will also see this as a threat since they are facing lots of compettion from "free" magazines and papers which are becoming more numerous here in Tokyo. The content quality of the free mags/papers is often just as good as the retail mags and sometimes they are even done by the different divisions of the same publishing company.

This adds up to a lose/lose situation for retailers and publishers. Cant say that I blame them for banning photography. They are within their rights to do so since a store is not a public place and activities may be regulated in private spaces.

Pete Barr-Watson: I also buy mags for just one or two pages, especially since more information is available on the web anyway.

I dont have a camera phone and probably never will so retailers and publishers will at least have one customer who buys things...

Here's a thought -- go to your local public library and take pictures there :)

Hey Matt. Thats a thought.Are you trying to push everyone out of the market?

Leave a comment

2 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Camera phone book theft banned in Japanese bookstores.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://joi.ito.com/MT-4.35-en/mt-tb.cgi/860

Digital shoplifting with camera phones from Satoshi's Wireless Weblog: User Interface is an Art
July 22, 2003 6:47 AM

New lifestyle tools introduce new social issues and problems, just like phones, copiers, TVs, game consoles, etc. Digital shoplifting (of information at bookstore) is one of new issues introduced by camera phones. Joi ito's weblog as a good discussion ... Read More

What is it with all these "Do Everything" gadgets these days? I feel like I'm taking Crazy Pills! Read More

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Business and the Economy category.

Books is the previous category.

Computer and Network Risks is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index.

Monthly Archives