Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

What Can't I Do Today? (Donna Wentworth)

A Slashdotter, on Endangered Gizmos and the threat to harmless "me2me" uses:

At this point, I've accepted that there are things I do that may someday be considered a crime. ...:
  • Record TV shows from my DirecTV reciever that I pay a monthly subscription fee for into my computer using a Hauppauge PVR250 card for archival purposes (to show friends and family when they come over)
  • Rip all CDs that I buy to the infinitely more convenient Ogg Vorbis format so that I can listen to my music anywhere
  • Stream any audio or video from my house to wherever I happen to be using a VPN connection and broadbad. This means I can listen to my music collection, watch my DVDs or even DirecTV as long as I have an internet connection
  • Build custom digital media devices that don't have the limitations that commercial products do

...It's a wonder it's not illegal to use a hammer, nails, screwdriver, drywall, plaster and screws to build or modify your house any way you want.
Basically, the notion of "owning a song" when you buy it in some format is going to be over if Hollywood has any say. In the old days, if you had an album, you could tape it and listen to it in your car or anywhere you wanted to. You basically "owned the song." Now you own the song on your Mac/iPod. Or own the song on Microsoft... or own the DVD in Region 1... If you've purchased thousands of tracks on Apple Music Store and decide you're going to stop using iTunes and iPod, you're shit out of luck. Or if you have a thousand DVDs and you move from the US to Japan. Yes, there are workarounds, but they will try to make more and more laws to prohibit people from building workarounds.

So my question is... Does this INCREASE or DECREASE the likelihood that I'm going to want to build a massive music or movie collection?


...don't get me started on DVD regions...

Perhaps the question should be expanded to: What will these ridiculous laws, that have an entire generation growing up as felons as they rightfully ignore them, do to our culture and the concept of rule of law?

We already have pretty clear answers to this stuff via a controlled experiment on over 250 million people. A vast majority of the population of the US has smoked marijuana even after it was made illegal. The punishments for being caught are pretty severe, and the difficulty of commiting the crime (finding the drug in the first place) are far more of a deterrent than "click, torrent, done". So I think the answer is that people will cease paying just to posess the data for movies and songs. They will say "why should I pay for that? Give me a concert, or a huge IMAX experience, and I'll pay, but f you if you think I'm going to pay just for your data".

Personally I am a musical nil, but I do love music. I know a few things about ipr, and what i know is that the present laws were not designed to deal with today's technology. However given the fact that the present laws greatly satisfy the greed, or in more diplomatic terms, the income stream of large recording companies, there are indeed great efforts being made to not change adapt these laws to the technology and protect the rights of the authors, not those of the commercial entities.

While the legislative figures out what to do, those who love music will build up wonderfully big collections of music from indie artists, and let the "biggies" write their own death sentences by clinging to laws that are abusive to both artists and consumers. Those others who love music, and are totally uncapble for some reason or other of build any collection, will continue to go to the live performances and ride on the good taste of their close friends and share whatever music without leaving a trace on the public internet.

As you know the majors are not only answering to what they call piracy. They are on an attack mood. I say this thinking at what they have done in Germany (people has to pay personal computers 12 euro more to compensate copyright holders for the losses caused by people copying copyrighted text on their pcs) or in Italy (people that uses p2p sites to get music for free go in jail, yes, in jail; and we all have to pay a tax on virgin cds to compensate the majors for illegal burning of copyrighted material).

Anybody pays that. Even if I burn on a cd my own pictures, I have to pay some money to the majors. Even if a German uses a pc to write her own poems, she has to pay.

The majors have succeeded in having people that don't do "piracy" pay them money for any activity they do with their own content. They want to be paid for any contet, even if it is not theirs!

This is what they do. They want total control on content. That's their dream. Blogging is a sort of social answer to what has been until now a centralized and controlled media system. But as the major go ahead with their lobbying, the blogosphere, with all its next improvements, will become more and more important. As an experiment, I started a videoblog... it's a small small thing and only in Italian until now... but it has made think the Italian speaking blogosphere that a new kind of tv is coming... And as you all know, our tv has a lot to improve... What do you think?

There is a one to one relationship between payment and content. You buy one copy, then you are not legally allowed to make others to avoid buying additional copies. There are a couple of text cases you may want to look at involving Big Media, but not in the way you expect. One is Legg-Mason and another is Disney. In each case the firm subscribed to a newsletter which cost hundreds of dollars per year per subscription. As demand expanded for additonal copies they hit the Xerox machine rather than buying more subsciptions. They got sued and they lost because it was fairly obvious that they were trying to evade payment to the rightful owners of the content. Note that one of the cases was against Disney, which is very firm about enforcing its own intellectual property rights.

In regards to having to pay for copies of your own work, every writer has to be careful about what contracts she or he signs, because of you sign one that says "Work for hire" you are no longer the author;they are, and a contract which says that you sell "all rights" means just that and includes the right to make further copies for yourself. Contract trumps copyright every time. It is very easy to give away rights you need later for your own purposes. Since almost every transaction regarding copyright, like those regarding real estate, has to be in writing to be enforceable, get it in writing and read what you sign.

The above, of course, is not legal advice, just common sense.

As for those "ridiculous laws". You may have noticed that copyright law is pretty much the same everywhere now. That is because it is just not a matter of national, but international law. The WIPO treaty is the most recent and the one most friendly to creator's rights. Its provisions have to implimented by law at the national level. This is how we got the DMCA and other recent additons to the law.

Canada never signed the treaty and their Supreme Court decided that peer-to-peer was cool by them because Canada had never signed WIPO. The net result of that is that many creators, myself among them, will no longer sell rights in their material to Canadian distributors. If we do, we loose control of it. Candian customers can, of course, cross the border and buy it. One copy at a time.

The very consumers who 'collect' CDs/DVDs are the same ones drawn to the bug-light of P2P -- early adopters, hardcore fans. So, I think you're more likely to collect these days, because your access is so tremendous. You are also almost 100% likely to be considered a 'pirate' because in order to deal with formats/DRM/etc., you will have to take matters into your own hands. shaping your data to your particular hw/sw configuration.

today, i can listen to more music, in more place, more of the time. my consumption has skyrocketed. buying a CD is no longer a significant event for me. the SKU/unit is no longer important to me; i value the continuous data stream.

until industry recognizes this radical consumer shift, they will continue to try and defend/lock-down their product. they are fighting the war on the wrong front.

sell me access, not plastic discs.

I think it will massively INCREASE your audiovisual collection (both, access to data streams and to file-based content). BUT the next years you will consume more sound and movies (without DRM mechanisms) which are not advertised on i.e. mtv oder on other popular channels, because the people will create content on their own (and advertise it on channels like blogs...) which will be supported by online- and OS-tools.

My personal slogan is: "We love to entertain us!"

"Candian customers can, of course, cross the border and buy it. One copy at a time."

Or they can download it for free.
Seriously dude, you need a new business model. Setting up an international police state isn't the answer.

[an old man gets up from his chair in front of the fireplace where we thought he had nodded off for the night... or longer]

It's not just about access - being able to hear the music when you want- though that is important (you young whippersnappers!)

The music is a part of your life and you want to hold on to it - sure you will outgrow it, forget it, not need it. But then, one day, you will want to find it again, rediscover lost moments, memories, and feelings.

A little bit of the right song can send emotions sweeping back through you, decades later - joy, heartache, a sense of freedom... even "true love".

The song replayed can free you in ways you might not be able to conceive of now -- to be 17 again, but with the wisdom of 40.

The music business says you cannot "own" these songs, but this is folly. The music has no meaning without the people hearing, and the deep interaction it has with them.

Subscription and streaming models - these just try to get people to pay for radio - and you young kids would be better off with DAB radio: I say, give me an efficient broadcast of many stations of high fidelity sound - for free.

Talk radio? No one remembers talk radio - the banter does not touch the soul.

You need to own the songs that matter to you - buy the CD, buy an unrestricted MP3, but a vinyl if only you could find one... in the double fold out color imaged Album "cover".

You think you know what you need? It may sound wierd to you kids, but what you need is the playlist with full meta-data. You need to remember where you were and how it sounded and the girl/guy that listened with you, and the smell of the grass you sat on, and what they said between numbers, and when you leaned close, and how you felt.

Surely you own that -- and, yes, you need to have a recording, as well, to trigger and complete the memory, either when being made, or years later remaking you.

It's not simply about audio waves reverberating the ear canal. The reverberations are deeper and more complex, and while they are worth a handsome price, it is not something you can afford to let someone take away.

You have an unending right to those reverberations, no matter what a law someone write may say.

[the old fart slumps back into the armchair, mumbles "God bless the musicians" and "gord brass amerria", snortles twice, and starts to snore.

So you take your girl out on the porch in back, in private now, in the warm Summer night, your favorite song still in your bones]

There's this unhappy middle ground between total privacy and total openness. With total privacy, the only kind of ownership is "do whatever you want with it" ownership as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else's privacy. With total openness, everyone can see what everyone else has and where they got it, and if societal context says this requires payment to or permission from the artist, that should show up somewhere in the history of that person and that work of art.

In the middle, you have these stupid workarounds to try to enforce complicated transactions we know as contracts, licenses, copyright. It's not that microsoft wants to keep you from easily transporting your media collection on a microdisk hidden in your pinky-ring. Or that they want to know everything you do. It's that if it's *too* easy to copy and transfer the content, and *too* hard to find out where it came from, there's no way to prevent piracy. And they want to address that problem because there's money in it.

I see some points on both sides. As a graphic designer, I was 'trained' by photographers and illustrators to enforce copyright with clients. They charge less for one time use, more for all rights. I think this is only fair. I know how much time and effort content creators put into their work. Even though it's rare for designers to be treated similarly.

At the same time, I lived over 12 years in Geneva (I'm from the US). It was a complete drag to know that any dvd I purchased in Switzerland wouldn't work in the States once I returned.

Seems to me that the law has to take mobility, at least, into account. Allow me to trade in what I've bought for another format, another location, etc.

Consumer IPR (intellectual property rights) need to be developed separately from business IPR. Or there will continue to be mass breaking of the laws.

here in the UK it has got even more complicated. I was reading in the Sunday Times (could've been the Observer - lazy Sunday!) that authors are increasingly worried about the second hand market for their books - Amazon etc..,.

They are trying to implement a scheme by which they receive further payment for further transactions on the same book.....

My understanding was that the contract is fulfilled when you have paid your money and received the product, in this case the book.

Take it to the nth degree - can we get our money back if we return the book, or even if we don't like it?

Comment From: Joao Paglione

Remember walking around Hangzhou, China and seeing so many VCDs, illegal copies of DVDs, floating around. I asked people where are all the videotapes and they started in disbelief.

The long term implications for this copyright mess are astounding...

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