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Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss? — David Lowery (Cracker, Camper van Beethoven) expands on a talk he gave at this winter’s SF Music Tech Summit. A fascinating and illuminating discussion; be sure to also check out part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

Grooveshark: Trolling The Sea Of Artists To Make A Buck? — Jeff Price of Tunecore has some strong words about the music streaming site that brags about not being licensed. “Grooveshark is a fish rotting from the head down. The people running it are immoral and could care less about who and/or what they hurt as long as they make money.”

Canard du Jour: Do you still have your personality after Google makes a copy? — Copyright and privacy are more closely linked than appearance suggests. The trouble is that arguments advanced to weaken copyright can also be used to weaken privacy rights — and, as Chris Castle explains, that’s fine by Google.

The Nimble Empire: In Defense of Cable (via John August) — On why the evolution of cable will be amazing and what critics get wrong. “Really, what the pro-piracy arguments come down to — at least in the United States, where most content is pretty ready available (a few exceptions aside) — is ‘this is legally available, but not at a price I am willing to pay,’ and/or ‘this is legally available, but not for a time that I am willing to wait.’ Or rather — ‘I insist that you immediately provide your content at a price and on a device or devices of my choosing.’ This is a newly emerging and oddly curious expectation towards media.”

The film tax credit works, and Western Pennsylvania is a winner (via The Mentally InFirm)— The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on the positive effect that film and television production has on the Pennsylvania economy and how PA’s film tax credit has helped spur that production. The Post-Gazette notes, “Since the program’s inception, nearly $242.5 million in state tax credits have been approved and/or awarded to film production companies, which has resulted in estimated total economic activity of $1.8 billion and the creation and sustaining of almost 14,500 jobs statewide.”

Other Ways to Think About the Copyright Debate — At the Music Think Tank, Simon Tam asks, “Do we, as a society, value our artists and the arts as a whole? Do we appreciate them enough to support them so that the arts can continue to grow and that artistic expressions of ideas can be protected? Or do we believe that all artistic works should be free, no matter the cost, even if that cost includes the actual content creators themselves?”

The CCI and the Copyright Conspiracy — “What gets my attention is the rhetoric that consumers are owed better representation in the CCI than they’re currently receiving.  Of course consumers should advocate and argue for their interests, but why would they be owed representation in a private coalition, regulating a privately operated network?  Advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation argue that under-representation leads to the real problem of a lack of due process to consumers when the CCI cuts off their Internet access in the face of a copyright infringement allegation.  If your ISP restricts or cuts off your Internet access, how has it violated your ‘due process?’  How does it owe you “due process” in the first place?”

Q&A: Attorney Paul Smith of Jenner & Block Deciphers YouTube Appeal Decision — Paul Smith, the attorney from Jenner & Block who represented Viacom in its appeal against YouTube, discusses last week’s decision by the Second Circuit.

The 3 Types of Copyright Conversations — Jonathan Bailey labels these the ethical, legal, and practical arguments, and notes how quickly and easily they become conflated. “Copyright, piracy, Web freedom, privacy, etc. are all emotionally-charged topics but they are also absolutely critical to the future of the Web and our culture as a whole. It’s worth taking the time to get these conversations right.”

Art and Democracy: The NEA, Kickstarter, and Creativity in America — A fascinating comparison of arts funding by the National Endowment of the Arts and Kickstarter. “Right now, it’s not clear that Kickstarter is doing much more than offering a streamlined process for donations that would probably have happened anyway.”

2 Comments

  1. This has nothing to do with any of this week’s links, but is an issue of interest.

    On Monday 26 March 2012 the BBC’s Panorama program ran an episode Murdoch’s TV Pirates which alleged that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp had used piracy to undermine ONdigital, a British cable tv company and rival to BSkyB, a tv cable company Murdoch had a large stake in.

    Here’s a summary of the program from the Guardian: Questions for News Corp over rival’s collapse and fuller coverage of the developing issue from the Australian Financial Review: Pay TV Piracy.

    The basics of the allegations are that in the late nineties News Corp recruited hackers to crack the smart card codes of rival company ONdigital. They then made these codes available on a website called The House of Ill Compute – or THOIC for short — so viewers could enter the codes into their set-top boxes and get all the ONdigital channels for free. ONdigital went out of business in 2002.

    Now it can be argued that ONdigital failed for a number reasons (see the Guardian’s Was ONdigital beaten fair and square, or undermined?), but what I’m finding interesting is that I can’t find any pro-piracy activists defending Murdoch and News Corp’s actions.

    According to the piracy advocates, piracy has no effect on sales and so News Corp’s actions should have had no effect on ONdigital, or that piracy actually promotes sales by providing exposure, so News Corp’s actions should have backfired and strengthened ONdigital. Yet I’m not finding either argument being presented anywhere. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places.

    If nothing else, I would think that pro-piracy advocates would be concerned that if a case can be made that News Corp’s piracy did harm ONdigital and lead to its demise, then a precedent would be set that piracy does have negative effects and that would undermine their arguments that piracy is harmless. I would think they would want to avoid having such a precedent set. Better to nip the precedent in the bud than have it develop.

    I would think that something like the Pirate Party UK would be all over the issue, defending Murdoch and News Corp on this point (they can still condemn them on the phone hacking scandal), but they don’t even seem to be aware of it. Maybe they’re just hoping that if they ignore it, it will go away.

  2. The following is actually a response to The 3 Types of Copyright Conversations, but their site doesn’t seem to like me for some reason, so I’m having difficulty posting it there. So, I figured I’d post it here, where hopefully people who read the Plagiarism Today post can find it.

    This is an interesting post. I would suggest that there’s actually a fourth way of arguing about copyright: economic — thought that can probably be subsumed under “Practical”.

    Economically — and I mean in terms of what’s called macro-economics (how does this effect the broader system and society), not micro-economics (the business of investment, budgets and the like) — I think copyright has five key features:

    I. It’s universal. Everyone has automatic copyright to their original work. It’s not confined to a few, it’s open to anyone and everyone who wants it.

    This, of course, makes it relatively straightforward. There’s no question whether someone is entitled to the protection of copyright, whether they’re registered with the appropriate agency or jumped through right hoops to get it or are of the right ethnicity/gender/sexual preference/political persuasion to qualify; if they created something, they get the copyright on it.

    II. It gives creativity value — and I mean real value, survival value. People who were good at creating new works can make a living doing it. They can support themselves and their families. Creating new works isn’t just a hobby or a selfish indigence, it becomes a sign of industry and productivity. A few can even become rich doing it.

    This encourages many to try. Not all of them will succeed; the arts have long been a tournament, with many entrants and few winners. But having lots of entrants means that there are lots of different types of works being produced, leading to a richer and more diverse overall culture.

    III. Copyright serves as a feedback mechanism, creating a form of natural selection that enables culture to constantly adapt to the changing conditions and preferences of society.

    It does this in two ways.

    First, things that become popular (best-sellers) tell creators what consumers want and encourages not only the original creator but also other creators to produce more works of that type. This is often dismissed as just changing fads and fashion and appealing to the lowest common denominator, but no other system is as responsive to what a majority of the population wants.

    Second, even those that aren’t part of the majority benefit. Copyright not only signals the breadth of consumer desire (how many people want something), but also depth (how much they want it). This means that even things that weren’t widely popular can still find an effective audience. Aficionados of jazz (to take one example) indicate how much they want it by the fact that they were willing to pay a higher price for new jazz albums rather than spend their money on cheaper albums featuring other types of music. Creators of such content can know that while the audience might be small, it is dedicated and their desire for the material was not just a passing whim.

    IV. As a consequence of the feedback mechanism described in III, the system broadly democratic. Culture responds to the desires of the population and even segments of the population. Not everyone could get exactly the sort of material they want, but they can get something close, and different groups within a population can have their individual tastes catered to.

    Socially, people may distinguish between high culture, popular culture, ethnic culture, geek culture, special interest culture, and so on, but economically, in terms of copyright, they’re all the same. All that matters are the desires of the audience and how they spend their money; whether or not someone outside that audience likes or dislikes, approves or disapproves of the material, is irrelevant.

    V. Copyright is of limited duration. Eventually all works become part of the public domain, so that the culture of the past becomes fodder for creators of the present.

    I keep thinking that anti-copyright advocates would have developed an alternate system or systems that would preserve these desirable features of copyright while eliminating those features they dislike, but in my experience, anti-copyright activists just ignore these aspects. When I bring them up, they just change the subject. As far as I can tell, they assume that with the elimination of copyright, all these features will continue to function (how? why?) with the only difference being that they will be able to get all the works they want for free.

    The closest anti-copyright activists get to considering economics is when they bring up the notion of artificial scarcity. This really doesn’t work, because the time, effort and resources required to create a work are not available to create other possible works. There is nothing artificial about the scarcity. When a studio makes one movie, there are often literally hundreds of other scripts that they passed on and don’t make. When an author writes a book, there are often a dozen or more other ideas that they didn’t pursue. And so on.

    Without the feedback mechanism of copyright, there’s no basis for creators to decide which ideas to develop and which not to — except personal whim. And while personal whim may occasionally coincide with the interests of the audience, it’s a much less reliable guide than actual data from people laying down their money to indicate what they like (and, by implication, what they don’t).

    I would expect that Piracy Parties would have policy papers available explaining what alternative mechanisms they would implement to replace these features, but even they don’t. Which is rather odd for a political party advocating for any form of social and economic change.