call +44 20 7096 1079
May 03, 2012 | Jim Killock

We don't have to choose between freedom and copyright

The court orders for the Pirate Bay blocking notice say that:

IP address blocking is generally only appropriate where the relevant website's IP address is not shared with anyone else. If it is shared, the result is likely to be overblocking (see 20C Fox v BT (No 2) at [6]). In the present case, however, TPB's IP address is not shared. Thus IP address blocking is appropriate. Accordingly, the Defendants have agreed to orders which require IP address blocking

The UK’s Pirate Party has decided to mirror TPB here. By doing so, they not only lay themselves open to charges of copyright infringement, but also to IP blocking, which may well shut down their main website.

This is because both websites are currently at the same IP address 95.172.29.90. The court order would therefore require both websites to be censored. That of course would mean a court ordering the censorship of a political party: an unexpected outcome.

There are already add-ons claiming to get round the blocks. Others are expecting the DNS level blocking to be circumventable: no doubt people will be testing this shortly, as Virgin Media are already reported to be blocking the site.

But just because censorship doesn’t always work, that doesn’t make it right. We are particularly concerned about blocking TPB’s public blog, which is an act of pure censorship, with no questions around copyright. It is unnecessary for the court orders to include this content.

There are also, of course, other legitimate torrents we all know about, such as Linux distributions and Vodo torrents which should be excluded from the blocking order.

We continue to state, the Pirate Bay could be an irrelevance to the rightsholders. The groups asking for the court order have chosen to arrest its slow decline, and to put it into the front line. They have created a martyr and a hero by making them the victim of censorship.

It’s hard not to conclude that the Pirate Bay have achieved their aim. After all, their aim wasn’t to make a fortune from copyright infringement, no matter what IFPI and the BPI claim. Their aim was to make the copyright industries look ridiculous, outmoded and to place these companies into direct conflict with music and film fans. The Pirate Bay’s point has been to try to demonstrate that copyright itself is past its sell by date and can only be sustained through creating a dystopia of control, censorship and surveillance.

At ORG we don’t agree with that, but the BPI seems to, every time it pursues policies like the Digital Economy Act,or ACTA and asks for more website blocking and controls on search results. When Claire Perry adds her voice to calls to introduce network level controls on content, we see a growing alliance between those who want to control the Internet for very different reasons.

Politicians, meanwhile seem to be faced with a choice: destroy the copyright industries, or destroy the freedom the Internet has delivered us. They weigh up that the Internet doesn’t matter so much, so go with incrementally increasing the mechanisms of control and censorship.

It is a false choice. The Pirate Bay was in decline. The Internet is the backbone of modern freedom, political, social and creative. Its destruction cannot be contemplated by anyone sane enough to remember that we are being pushed by people with quite extreme views, on the rights holder and the opposite side.

Which side are you on? We’re not on the side of copyright infringement or the groups ordering censorship.

We’re on the side of the people and their rights and dignity. We don’t have to tolerate any of this: it’s time for a lot of people to grow up.

google plusdeliciousdiggfacebookgooglelinkedinstumbleupontwitteremail


Comments (15)

  1. Peter Fiddes:
    May 03, 2012 at 05:05 PM

    "The internet is an environment where you cannot police what is going on" - Andrew Heaney (Talk Talk)

    Democracy is proving that it is just another dictatorship and tool of the rich, didn't the Egyptian dictator block the internet or use censorship. Didn't Hitler use censorship and not to mention the USSR, and look at China.
    Its tragic that politicians constantly side with the side that has money, when will someone stand up for freedom of speech.

    On the other side, I am sure there are IT boffins out there who will have ways around whatever any government tries to put in place.

  2. Paul Evans:
    May 04, 2012 at 02:28 PM

    Maybe some anti-censorship campaigner with a bit of tech-savvy could show Pirate Bay how they can host their blog on a different IP address? I thought that their argument was that site-blocking was futile so I suspect they know how to do this themselves really.

    Come on folks, the idea that this is censorship is nonsense. You're reaching here. Anyone who really imagines that the very mild and highly caveatted powers provided in the Digital Economy Act create a 'dystopia of control, censorship and surveillance' really does need to go and have a look at what control, censorship and surveillance really looks like. Or they could go and look at the degree of control, censorship and surveillance is practiced by ....... er .... Google.

  3. Jim Killock:
    May 04, 2012 at 04:15 PM

    Thanks Paul: good to have a debate. I think it comes down to whether you object to having your access restricted. If you do, then you will feel this as censorship. For me, the idea that the state will stop me from reading TPB's blog feels like censorship, where I might be able to stomach actual infringing links being subject to a block (I'd still feel it was bad public policy, but that's a different matter).

    As for Google, yes, they as a private actor have a lot of control over information. That doesn't mean we necessarily approve of them being dominant, but it's a different problem to government mandates.

  4. Paul Evans:
    May 04, 2012 at 05:12 PM

    Jim,

    Thanks for that. And apologies if what follows looks like an anti-ORG rant, but I'm getting a bit irritated with a lot of this kind of cynicism.

    I think I already argued that the state isn't stopping you from reading TPB's blog. I've seen articles saying how opportunistic it is to couple porn-blocking with piracy-blocking - yet no such queasiness seems to be expressed about the conflation of genuine censorship with reasonable and very mild measures to discourage piracy. We both no that no government is going to go along with an absolutist 'anyone can post anything online' settlement and anyone who wants to take part in democratic debate isn't going to be discouraged from doing so by piracy issue.

    If they are, it'll be down to incompetent ISPs .... who make a fortune from meeting the demand for bandwidth that steaming media creates.

    How about the other sort of censorship while we're on the subject? Where the inability of creative workers to monetise their work because of illegal copying deprives them of the ability to make it in the first place? The slow death of investigative journalism is down, at least in part, to the inability of journalists to retain any window of exclusivity. The UK already suffers from dumping of below-cost US TV programmes on our schedules and Murdoch-compliant governments have removed the investment rules that used to overcome the free-rider problem in the funding of TV programmes (i.e. if you distribute it, you've got to pay something towards making it).

    DVD sales are an important part in that value chain and independent producers will tell you how many of these they're losing because of uninforced copyright. There are plenty of opportunities to help fix that including various levies that have worked very well throughout the EU for decades, but I understand ORG are against them as well?

    The UK music industry is rapidly becoming the preserve of ex-public school kids now and if you want a job in journalism, TV or film, expect to put in a few harmonious years of daddy-funded 'internship'. That's censorship, Jim. It's a great deal more serious than a temporary block on someone's broadband after a number of warnings, and it owes it's origin at least in part to the fact that it's harder to monetise at entry level into these industries.

    And while I'm on the subject, I'd be interested in how far ORG would be prepared to go in condeming a lot of the lobbying against ACTA or SOPA/PIPA that was funded very heavily by Google - particularly as that lobby used the privacy arguments so forcefully? I'm getting a bit hacked off by the degree to which supposedly principled 'grassroots' campaigns are painting the other side of the argument as a bunch of cynical corporate shills (especially when the creative unions are pretty well unanimously on the other side of this one) while not rocking the boat when it comes to their own coalition?

    I support a lot of ORG's objectives - really, I do. I'm a huge fan (and practical user) of open data and I detest the way that patents and pharmaceutical copyright is managed. But we, as citizens and consumers have got to go further than just sulkily telling creative industries 'you've got to find a way of charging me that I won't object to otherwise I'll pirate your stuff'. As long as we object to mild measures to stop illegal copying, we're removing the incentive for the people who *should* be investing to create a monetisable business model for journalism, TV programmes or locally and regionally produced film.

    There's not a one-size-fits-all answer to the copyright problem. Policymakers have *always* applied a 'cultural exception' and you will find that more people support you on issues where a lack of openness *really* counts if you uncouple it from the reasonable expectation of creative people to have the theft of their work discouraged.

    The whole sector (distribution and performance) is mushrooming, but the creators are spectres at the feast. Creatives provide the content that sells the hardware and bandwidth - the hardware and bandwidth industries just say 'thanks very much, now sod off and take your bill with you.'

    This is too important an issue for opportunistic lines of argument that conflate copyright enforcement with censorship. They're not the same thing and it does your credibility no good at all to keep doing it.

  5. Alan.Cox:
    May 04, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Paul, please learn the difference between theft and copyright violation.
    It's a bit difficult to have a sensible debate when you are intent on
    conflating burglary and copyright violation. Stealing the Mona Lisa is
    not the same as posting an unauthorised copy on the net. In fact
    as a lot of research points out - it'll probably make more people go see
    the real thing!

    I would disagree that blocking all the pirate bay is a minor means to
    discourage piracy. It is blocking a large amount of legitimate content
    including that from charting independent artists. Some blocks could
    undoubtedly be done more finely and block abuses, but there is no counter
    balance in these cases because the pirate bay and others like them are
    not part of the court process if there ever is one.

    Nominet rip down domains without court process on the say so of the
    police. Our courts grant overbroad blocks with neither the target nor
    "collateral damage" victims being given a voice. Similarly telcos
    arbitarily block wrong sites without penalty or much come-back,
    carelessly branding peace charities as 'pornography' because they've no
    way to sue back for negligence or defamation.

    That failure of process is also creating a failure to do blocking right.

    I also think focussing on the "music" industry is a mistake. The purpose
    of copyright is to benefit the creators and society. Excess middlemen who
    are now being removed from the equation don't feature, nor should they.
    If artists don't need the industry and society doesn't need the industry
    then that industry is obsolete. Other obsolete industries have to
    re-invent themselves or die. Ask the artists where all the money is
    actually going.

    Consider it as a random business problem. The revenue pot is fairly fixed
    in all evidence. Therefore the only way to put more money in the hands of
    the shareholders is to reduce overheads and ruthlessly drive down costs.
    Music is the same, the costs are the industry and they need ruthlessly
    driving down to put the money in the hands of artists.

    I've never had the dubious misfortune to deal with the TV industry, just
    music and games (the latter of which are in my experience the people not
    quite evil enough to make the former)

    > if you want a job in journalism, TV or film, expect to put in a few harmonious years of daddy-funded 'internship'. "

    You mean the industry is corruptly using its market power to deny people
    the minimum wage they should be entitled to ? That speaks volumes for
    the problems of that industry and how it treats people, as well as on the
    need for independant alternatives not to be censored and driven
    underground, or have their content ripped off the net by bogus US attacks
    on hosting sites, false DMCA notices and the like.

    In a functioning open and free society being forced to do 'internships'
    to get into an industry just indicates there is a problem. Not a
    copyright problem - this is an abuse of power problem and a control of
    market problem. If that control was not there and there was true
    plurality then people facing such an offer would tell the existing
    companies where to go stick their offers and do it themselves
    independantly or in groups - just as musicians are increasingly doing.
    Just as is beginning to happen in academic publishing.

    > The whole sector (distribution and performance) is mushrooming, but the creators are spectres at the feast. Creatives

    Who gets more per copy: an independant group selling directly, a group
    selling via itunes, amazon, google etc directly, or a band tied to the
    "music" industry ? The first two not only get more but to them piracy is
    advertising. As someone put it "piracy is the new radio", just there is
    no payola and bags of notes behind the washroom radiator.

    > provide the content that sells the hardware and bandwidth - the hardware and bandwidth industries
    > just say 'thanks very much, now sod off and take your bill with you.'

    A lot of small producers use bit-torrent to share their content and avoid
    picking up enormous bills for the bandwidth. Of course that's getting
    hard because of the big media war on torrents. That's hurting independant
    movie makers, free software producers and many others.

    > This is too important an issue for opportunistic lines of argument that conflate copyright enforcement with
    > censorship. They're not the same thing and it does your credibility no good at all to keep doing it.

    The current legal and treaty games are doing just that. They are also
    playing into the hands of the people the industry wants to stop, Indeed
    the industry is being played like a record. To today technology oriented
    youth The Pirate Bay has become the gleaming spires of West Germany seen
    over the wall from the east. Be clear the music industry pretty much
    created The Pirate Bay myth, and to an extent the pirate parties who
    *are* going to change the world in time.

    When it comes to ACTA it was states and big media lobbyists who conflated
    copyright, censorship, restriction of drugs in the third world and many
    other things. They could have created a simple treaty to sort out
    "passing off" - although the USA would of course never have signed it,
    with its rather unique view on ripping off protected designations.

    I don't think anyone disputes the folks printing fake commercial copies
    of DVD media, or operating fake "official" paid download music sites need
    to be dealt with, but the non-commercial sutff all the evidence is quite
    different. You'll hear that from actual creators, from people like Neil
    Gaiman not just for independant academic research.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0Qkyt1wXNlI

    > There's not a one-size-fits-all answer to the copyright problem.

    Very true. However the brutal extremist approaches are coming from
    certain industries. Industries with remarkably close ties to some
    governments (ties that make the Murdoch link look like distant pen
    friends). They are coming via highly corrupt and secretive attempts to
    manipulate political process. All of this is preventing that debate.

    It is also triggering a backlash which in time is going to sweep things
    in the other drection without considering legacy business models as worth
    saving, even the bits that might be. Copyright maximalists, off the scale
    patent lawsuits and corruption threatens everything the internet
    generation believes as a culture. If you push a culture to the edge then
    the backlash is not something you want to be in the path of, and at that
    point rational debate from either side will be lost when the storm breaks.

    Alan

    PS: I wouldn't worry about DVD. Nobody expects any physical media like
    that to be any more relevant than VHS within the next few years. In the
    eyes of todays kids you can't fit a DVD in your phone so it doesn't
    exist.

  6. Paul Evans:
    May 05, 2012 at 04:58 PM

    Just when I was thinking that I was being harsh in my assumptions about the Freudian Id of the anti-copyright lobby, your reply pops up and confirms my worst assumptions.

    By 'learn the difference between theft and copyright violation', I expect you mean 'accept a contentious minority viewpoint that disregards most established standards of morality'? I work part-time for a trade union. Our members earn their living almost entirely on the basis that the producers of their work restrict access to it by charging.

    Every day, people in the industries I work in are conscious of the investment and jobs that go West because of the huge investment that goes into the creation of tools that profit from undermining that creativity. In other words, our industries are the exact opposite of outfits like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook, Google, etc, all of whom make a fortune selling closed-IP kit that makes it easy to copy, share and monetise other people's films or music.

    Remember, this is a market that is worth £hundreds of billions every year. Without high-quality content, the utility and perceived value of this market would decline rapidly. And the reason this work can be appropriated so easily is because our work has always been in a *very* open format. It's readable by human eyes, ears and brains. Your arguments essentially punish our side of this contention in order to reward those whose IP is firmly closed and hidden. It's a philistine argument - and it's a great big handout to everyone who operates *closed* IP. You should come clean here and start campaigning for special treatment handouts to corporations who have effective closed IP strategies.

    If you want to apply the kind of oddball morality that you outlined here properly, you can only do it defensibly if you *first* destroy those corporations' ability to assert *their* IP (and while you're at it, take down the corporations who make money by restricting access to the networks by charging for it), because the ratio between 'work' and 'profit' in their industries is a great deal higher. When you demand open IP from one side, but not another, you're picking sides.

    As a socialist, I wonder where everyone has been when there's suddenly a rash of epiphanies about how the power relations between the providers of labour or brain-work and those of capital are unfair? Musicians and script-writers get exploited? No shit, Sherlock! Unions have both eyes firmly focussed on cracking that particular nut, and dressing piracy up as some kind of blow on behalf of the workers is just nonsense.

    By stealing the product of labour (and it is exactly what you are doing when you use it outside the terms upon which it was licenced) you set the struggle against the worst excesses this abuse back. You liberate nothing. You do something that has nastier consequences than common-or-garden burglary. You steal current and future wages. You also impoverish democracy and culture into the bargain.

    Your comments about intermediaries and exploitation in creative industries are baffling, it's hard to know where to start. You advocate the undermining of processes that are the product of the negotiation of workers with employers and capital-providers and your solutions would simply reward investors for finding industries that are better at monetising other people's IP while enforcing their own copyright (see the list, above). Its almost a modern-day version of feudalism dressed up in some trendy argot about 'disruption'. It's like seeing a bunch of revolutionaries spending £3m to buy a tank from The Man in order to ram-raid a small corner shop.

    You seem to be mistaking my viewpoint with one that cares about corporate interests. I don't, except where paying jobs and creativity is a byproduct. You may imagine that - because huge US-based interests behave cynically in defence of their IP that everyone else should have theirs stolen as a sort of collective punishment. Most of the lost jobs and creativity happen among small producers and highly skilled experienced freelancers who invested a small fortune of their own in kit and training.

    Your arguments on the ethics and efficacy of blocking and 'censorship' are so self-contradictory and shrill ("brutal extremist approaches"?), again, I really don't think they warrant a reply. And on your DVD point, 'Cheat me once, shame on you - cheat me twice, shame on me.' People with your dubious morality handed large lumps of the value created by artists to techie corporations during one format life-cycle, destroying thousands of jobs and robbing society of the products they would have created. Forgive me for dismissing your arguments about the next format's lifetime.

  7. Alan Cox:
    May 08, 2012 at 09:30 PM

    Your 'contentious minority viewpoint' would be what - that stealing the Mona Lisa is different to printing unauthorised copies ? I'm sorry but I think you'll find in law, and in the resulting public outrage if the two were to occur you'll find they are not minority viewpoints but social norms and very very old ones, as well as legal ones.

    "In other words, our industries are the exact opposite of outfits like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook, Google, etc, all of whom make a fortune selling closed-IP kit that makes it easy to copy, share and monetise other people's films or music."

    Well actually I don't think this is at all true. Companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook provide platforms for content to be published. They provide platforms for creators to publish work commercially and non-commercially. Facebook is the largest photo archive in the world.

    Some of this is a new world order. The model is not "high quality content" the model is "high volume content", 'highly up to date content' and across a vast spectrum. Part of the way that is monetised is the tools that fish the good stuff from the dross. People used to make their money off the back of the industry by running review magazines, now they do it with websites. No change there and in both cases the creators get nothing from it directly.

    The editing is now done by the recipient. This has an important consequence I'll come back to later.

    Sure some of the stuff people put on these platforms shouldn't be there. One of the challenges is to figure out how to effectively monetise that and manage it. Part of the challenge though is that the very strict UK copyright (no parody, its an offence to make a copy to stop a work degrading and being lost, not even allowed to copy a CD you bought ont your MP3 player) is at odds with social norms. Technology can't solve social "problems".

    Underlying all of this is the fundamental problem the copyright extremists face - people have always believed that sharing where it does no or little harm is good. In a supposedly Christian nation that is hardly surprising. It's a world of 80 year old grannies photocopying knitting patterns and old magazine articles for each other. But feel free to arrest Grandma for sharing. That'll be fun, society won't stand for that because society and copyright law are out of kilter.

    The academic research says Grandma is right - most non commercial copying has no real impact, it can help a bit, it can hinder.

    The content that shouldn't be there problem is of course endemic in the old media world, whether its illegally copied photographs in national newspapers or unlawful copies of dead childrens voicemail. Even in free software we get piracy problems amazingly. Apparently it's too hard to follow a free software licence in some cases. Nor btw is software a side game. My content shipped on something upwards of 300 million phones last year, and god knows how much else.

    "As a socialist, I wonder where everyone has been when there's suddenly a rash of epiphanies about how the power relations between the providers of labour or brain-work and those of capital are unfair?"

    Well actually I worked in the games industry in the 1980s - its not news to me. Since then I've watched some games people move to direct marketing their products on things like iphone and making far more. In the mean time artists are still being ripped off.

    Musicians and script-writers get exploited? No shit, Sherlock! Unions have both eyes firmly focussed on cracking that particular nut

  8. Alan (continued):
    May 08, 2012 at 09:32 PM

    Without real success for over fifty years.... so maybe the negotiation
    process even with unions in the middle isn't working. Why should we believe
    it ever will ?

    Instead there are new outlets for content, ways to step around the old
    industry and make money directly. Artists are making real money this way.
    Lots of them are discovering they don't need the old media, and that
    charting music can be done without them. Even more so they are discovering
    the delights of selling 1/10th of the copies and making lots more money than
    they would have with a label. You can argue with the toll road owner, or you
    can build new roads. Creators today are doing the latter, and that breaks
    the market power of the toll road owner.

    Perhaps they are the new Marxists, They don't want to negotiate with the
    means of production, all they need now is some basic studio gear, a PC and a
    web site. They want to want to own the means of production.

    Maybe you don't care about them, but some of us do. Those trying to throttle
    and destroy the new platforms are destroying the very base artists need in
    order to escape from old media. It's the very base artists wanting to stay
    in old media also need to exist. It gives them the power over the industry.

  9. Paul Evans:
    May 09, 2012 at 02:15 AM

    This whole debate has a whole in the middle. There is an interesting hypothesis that a totally different IP settlement would be very liberating. I get that. I even agree with it, as far as I can, on the basis of almost zero evidence.

    'Piracy' is an attempt to impose this partially, on the weakest points of IP enforcement. It's done without any regard for the legitimate investment (cash, skills experience) of people who have created great artistic works (or tacky but commercially-successful ones). It also completely undermines other business models without any workable alternative (investigative journalism being the obvious one - one that has always been reasonably weak because of the fast-and-loose attitude of other newspapers to 'exclusives').

    In practice, we're looking at a land-grab by corporations who have worked out how to protect their own IP while monetising other people's weaknesses in protecting theirs.

    Your Mona Lisa analogy is utterly irrelevant to this debate. Why on earth did you use it? But seeing as we're on the area of copyright control that I have the least-strong views (copyright term), is it your view that someone who invests in something creative like a Film or music production should have to give away the fruits of their investment after a few years whereas someone who invests in almost anything else shouldn't?

    Why is everyone who professes to be so keen on creating knowledge also keen to impose an asymmetrical investment climate upon the people who have to come to collective commercial arrangements to do it well?

    This argument...

    "Part of the challenge though is that the very strict UK copyright (no parody, its an offence to make a copy to stop a work degrading and being lost, not even allowed to copy a CD you bought ont your MP3 player) is at odds with social norms."

    ... is as infuriating and passive-aggressive as the one about Pirate Bay being 'censored'. Grandma being locked up for sharing a knitting pattern? This is about as credible as a Spanish Centre-Forward's fall in penalty-box. Everywhere else in Europe, there are exceptions on private copying that have been agreed in exchange for a private copy levy based on the established principle of compensation for harm. In the UK, we've not done that (to the consternation of the entertainment unions). And 'parody' is being hit in the UK? Really? I mean, *really*? Is this another example of the elastic definition of 'censorship'?

    If I create an artwork, I have a reasonable set of moral rights that I should be able to defend. And if I spend a fortune of my money making something and you muck it around and repost it, I should get a share of any revenue you make. That's reasonable.

    A collecting society such as PRS could easily share those royalties out. When has anyone been sued for reasonably making copies for private use? You're simply asking for breach of existing licences that have been happening for a long time, harming film, TV and music makers - to be compounded in law without anything in return. It's take-take-take by techies (who profit) from artists (who are expected to be willing marketing collateral). No wonder creativity is increasingly the preserve of kids with rich-dads.

    Facebook, Google et all are exploiting other people's IP and you know it. Dress it up, by all means, in terms of 'adding value' and 'indexing' (and, in fairness, they certainly do a lot of that very well) but the bottom line is that people who have a reasonable expectation that their moral and economic rights won't get violated have been taken very firmly from behind by these corporations. They're immensely profitable now as a result of getting away with it. A levy on companies that benefit from this would be perfectly reasonable. The same companies have the usage data that would make fair distribution of such levies very simple.

    Thus the huge lobbying spend by them against SOPA/PIPA and ACTA. This isn't some neo-Marxist liberation movement. It's a movement of corporate patsies.

    I think the unions would take exception to your view that they've done their job with little success. TU members have better pay and conditions than non-TU members. Unions are a hugely civilising influence on the workplace and on freelance employment contracts. If you're saying that they've failed to totally resolve the dispute between capital and Labour (and that you imagine that further loosening copyright would do that) then I'm all ears, obviously.

    However, 'pirates' are very far from being the new Marxists. Marx would have taken one look at them and cursed them as 'Hegelian Idealists.'

  10. Paul Evans:
    May 09, 2012 at 02:16 AM

    Can't think how I let the term 'whole in the middle' get through. Sorry...

  11. Alan Cox:
    May 09, 2012 at 09:59 AM

    (sorry this is in chunks.. I'm having a difference of opinion with the web software)

    The other question about piracy is the "does it matter" one. Lots of ebooks
    are not copy protected, music increasingly so. All the independant evidence
    is that if you are the big big chart hitter it hurts you a little bit, but
    if you are further down the food chain it helps.

    For artists stepping outside the old media model, into this world of
    "everything, now" rather than 'high quality content' piracy is an essential
    element. Purchasers need to decide if a piece of content is worth buying.
    Previously they did that by a mix of review sites and to a large extent
    brand. I bought the new XYZ album because the last one was good. I watched
    the BBC news this week because it was well presented last week etc.

    In the new world order you need to decide if you want something, you need to
    preview it, and that is one reason it appears that piracy drives sales
    rather than reducing them. People will pay for content they can pirate.
    Artitsts have tested ths repeatedly with official releases. Piracy has
    tested it fairly well with other stuff.

    There are still some really difficult questions to answer - news media is
    one of them. The courts and policy world is still trying to sort out
    questions around news and what is or isn't fair use, when linking is and
    isn't fair and so on. the blog world also has some interesting problems.
    It's not a very good way to make money for the most part, and a lot of big
    blogs are becoming paid mouthpieces for undisclosed interests.

    Another to me is how much control should a creator have - what is the right
    line between the rights of society and creators. Parody is a clear example
    here, orphan works, collecting societies and the like also touch on it. For
    some content its easy - a lot of the content put out there the creators
    choose to make available to all. For those who don't however while piracy
    may be a win for them it's still not what they gave permission for and its a
    loss of control. How that all balances will I think be key.

    The real big ugly down the road is 3D print. It changes everything.. The
    growing maker culture is going to run headlong into patents and patent
    causes against individuals - that will be ugly, really ugly. It also makes
    a whole pile of law around regulation by artificial scarcity completely
    unworkable. Not all of it is in a good wya - need an AK47 - just print one
    (and yes except the barrel this has been done).

    Ultimately though the internet replaces artificial scarcity and limited
    carefully assembled 'high quality' (*) content with very natural
    overabundance. Those who succeed are going to be those who figure out how to
    offer something above the sea of public content, how to be found, and how
    to generate demand.

    Alan
    (*) a term that is very dubious given beauty is in the eye of the beholder

  12. Paul Evans:
    May 09, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I often write this stuff offline then cut and paste it if that helps, Alan?

    All of the independent evidence offers no such conclusions. It's a mixed bag.

    There's no question that new models allow *some* artists with the right combination of skills and connections to do better than they would in the old settlement, and they're free adopt a new copyright model if they wish to. But it should be their choice.

    I understand the arguments about how preview drives sales. I'm not proposing hit squads of inspectors or police going around prosecuting everyone who makes a private copy or even everyone who has a number of unlicenced files on their hardware.

    I'm saying that there is the means and the capacity there to come up with a fair settlement for rights-holders. This is a negotiation, and bizarrely, people who claim to want to increase investment into creative IP are on the wrong side of the table demanding concessions from the people who actually make it - rather than the other way around.

    The degree to which bogus 'censorship' arguments have been used by people who aren't even *paid* by ISPs to make them makes me laugh. ISPs could help here.

    I don't like being rude to my many friends who have made this argument but they know I'm enough of a knockabout guy to tell them not to take the term 'useful idiot' too personally.

    The French HADOPI experience has - contrary to the propaganda - worked. It would have worked more effectively had it been implemented earlier and more widely and it would have driven investment in more legitimate ways of consuming content online. Hardware manufacturers, ISPs and search engines are actually disincentivised from coming up with a solution to this, and again, it explains why such a huge fortune is being spent in financing a very slick anti-SOPA/PIPA and ACTA lobbying campaign.

    I've been around online lobbying long enough to know that the coherent decentralised and crowdsourced lobby is more of a myth than most people think.

    You appear to be sidestepping my points about fair compensation, and about the degree to which commercial companies are monetising artists' weakness in enforcing their IP. This is an industry that is burgeoning. TV producers, film=makers, musicians, journalist and writers should be making a fortune. These should be growing and highly-invested professions. They're not. Journalism, in particular, is haemorrhaging staff into the PR industries. Same with TV producers/advertising. Everyone else is making a ton of money.

    Your 3d issue is an interesting conundrum that I don't know the answer to. All of the previous experience shows that lots of people will monetise their ability to exploit other people's IP and we'll see another really effective bit of astroturfing where liberals are conscripted to facilitate the whole thing.

    I hope I'm wrong about this...

  13. Alan:
    May 09, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    "Your Mona Lisa analogy is utterly irrelevant to this debate. Why on earth did you use it?"

    Becauase you persist in confusing theft and copyright. It's the classic example of why they are not the same thing.

    "... is as infuriating and passive-aggressive as the one about Pirate Bay being 'censored'. Grandma being locked up for sharing a knitting pattern? This is about as credible as a Spanish Centre-Forward's fall in penalty-box. Everywhere else in Europe, there are exceptions on private copying that have been agreed in exchange for a private copy levy based on the established principle of compensation for harm. In the UK, we've not done that (to the consternation of the entertainment unions). And 'parody' is being hit in the UK? Really? I mean, *really*? Is this another example of the elastic definition of 'censorship'?"

    Shows how out of touch with reality you are I'm afraid. The Olympic Parody video got taken down for example. There are *lots* of examples of this problem. But they probably don't bite "unionised professionals" because they wouldn't consider making them anyway as soon as they considered the current rights clearance costs.

    Yes - Parody is not a right we have in the UK. If you go read the government consultation it's one of the things being asked about. One of the things we can fix.

    The Grandma example just shows how out of touch copyright law is with society. It doesn't matter whether you believe we should take old ladies internet away for sharing 3 knitting patterns or not. That is what is in the law says, albeit a law currently stuck in a hole from which hopefully it never emerges. That is the position the copyright maximalists and their close friends in parliament pushed. A law the music industry supported and fought for.

    If you want to change the position you need to convince society, not attempt to block the equivalent of the road network from operating. That's why things like "Keep music live" were far more sensible and far less divisive.

    "If I create an artwork, I have a reasonable set of moral rights that I should be able to defend. And if I spend a fortune of my money making something and you muck it around and repost it, I should get a share of any revenue you make. That's reasonable."

    Most of the rest of the world allows parody and considers it reasonable to allow it. There is a balance between what is parody and what is ripping-off and there are differences between commercial and non-commercial parody. When the Barron Knights put a spoof of a song into the top 20 then I'm with you that the original song writer was owed their cut.

    "A collecting society such as PRS could easily share those royalties out."

    They could but for non-commercial parody there wouldn't be any.

    It also doesn't work for some licenses: - people releasing content under things like creative commons licenses in the UK have trouble get paid royalties via collecting agencies for commercial use if they allow even non-commercial free use. Thats in urgent need of reform too. It's one reason some bands simply ignore piracy rather than officially approve of it. They are scared they'd lose their royalties by being honest about how it works.

    "When has anyone been sued for reasonably making copies for private use? ""

    The fear is more powerful than the action. If nobody has been sued, and we agree nobody should be sued, then we should all campaign to fix the law so nobody does get sued and add a US style fair use exception or two, make it legal to put your CDs onto your MP3 player and so on. That would go an enormous way to removing the backlash and the "evil industry" view of the world.

    "Facebook, Google et all are exploiting other people's IP and you know it. Dress it up, by all means, in terms of 'adding value' and 'indexing' (and, in fairness, they certainly do a lot of that very well) but the bottom line is that people who have a reasonable expectation that their moral and economic rights won't get violated have been taken very firmly from behind by these corporations. They're immensely profitable now as a result of getting away with it. A levy on companies that benefit from this would be perfectly reasonable. The same companies have the usage data that would make fair distribution of such levies very simple."

    Should the landlord of a record shop pay a levy too - if not what is the difference to being the hoster of content. Or how about a review magazine. It doesn't pay a levy but it did the same job Google does in helping identify good content. Or maybe the Royal Mail. They clearly make money off the back of artists delivering all those CDs from the Channel Islands.

    Where they are intentionally distributing content that is licensed they should pay royalties (and I can't see a way Google etc would be doing non-commercial uses). If I sell an album via itunes I get paid for it. If I sell books via Amazon I get royalties. I can put my own content on youtube and get revenue from it.

    Sites like Google are trying to make sure that content owners can get royalties from things like youtube re-use of their content. The system certainly needs enormous work yet both in what it allows and in helping original creators make that decision about reuse actually stick.

    Some of that really needs a rights clearing house thats fit for the 21st century. One that can keep accurate shared databases of sound identifications, policies, artists etc that music and video hosting sites can pull and cross reference so they know how to more effectively automate their processes - and so artists don't have to run around after them. It would be much easier for everyone if such a data set existed.

    They may have users that go beyond what is allowed but again the underlying problems you need to face are social ones. It's seen as acceptable, the law is so complex nobody understands it, and the old media people do the same. Quite frankly I see a non-commercial upload of an old Queen video as less offensive than the UK tabloids taking some random individuals photographs and putting them unpaid in a major news paper, and less offensive than making infringing copies of dead childrens voicemails.

    Oh just in case you want to deny that goes on too:

    http://www.wonderlandblog.com/wonderland/2011/08/the-daily-mail-knowingly-and-commercially-used-my-photos-despite-my-denying-them-permission.html

    for a sample.


    "Thus the huge lobbying spend by them against SOPA/PIPA and ACTA. This isn't some neo-Marxist liberation movement. It's a movement of corporate patsies."

    Again you are so far out of touch with reality. Go visit a pirate party event in Germany. It might open your eyes. There is a whole world out there which gets the internet, gets what the internet actually is and understands what it means.

    Successful paid artists need to be part of that universe and denying its existence as some corporate plot isn't going to make that happen any more than attempting to legislate the VHS out of existance did.

  14. Alan:
    May 09, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    "The degree to which bogus 'censorship' arguments have been used by people who aren't even *paid* by ISPs to make them makes me laugh. ISPs could help here. "

    What pray is bogus about objecting to big media blocking the site of small independant artists currently in the chart. Or bogus about demanding fair judicial process ?

    Don't get me wrong. I have no doubt that in the case of proper UK judicial process TPB would still have been blocked, would have refused to make it easy to block pirate bay but not promo-bay. Likewise the block would still have been useless, but it might have helped narrow it down and reduce the damage, or at least avoided handing them a sort of moral victory.

    Blocking their blog page is another matter though. Its political free speech. They've as much right to that as the raving nutcases in the tory far right, the communists, the socialist workers, and everyone else. That's not infringing content. It may be annoying content to some but it's not infringing content and blocking it as well was IMHO bad.

    Alan

  15. Paul Evans:
    May 10, 2012 at 02:17 PM

    Apologies for the delay in replying - work called! Taking your points in order...

    1) Mona Lisa: I don't want to tell you how to make arguments against mine but if I were you I would have used, say, Sgt Pepper or maybe an Elvis LP as an example instead. It is perfectly legal to circulate copies of the Mona Lisa. Is there a point you're making that I don't understand here?

    2) Parody: I keep arguing that we need a *negotiation* about IP - not a capitulation. I agree that there is a catch-up that is needed and the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange seems to be a widely accepted answer to this. YouTube will monetise parodies. So will Facebook, as will ISPs. Then there's the question of moral rights. Anyone who wants to see exceptions to copyright rules on issue like private copying or parody should either argue that there needs to be an enhanced role for collecting societies along with statutory levies OR they should argue that rights holders should be ordered to hand their IP over to Google, Facebook, Apple and the ISPs for unlimited exploitation without any compensation. There doesn't appear to be a third option to me. Which side of that argument are you on? Again, this is not a big issue. It’s a little one. The idea that the settlement on IP should be driven by the need to accommodate this demand in the short term is just potty.

    3) Grandma's knitting: Same point as above. In most EU countries, there is some - hardly lavish - compensation paid to rights holders in lieu of loss of income caused by private copying and sharing. Not much, but better than in the UK. This is a negotiation. If you think (as Hargreaves does) that UK rights-holders should simply concede this with nothing offered in return, then again, it's plain whose side you are on in this case. You’re asking for yet another subsidy from creative people to techies on the dubious grounds that it’s all ‘promotion’.

    By the way, using Grandma's knitting as an example here is a particularly absurd example to chose when we both know that the real issue at stake here is a very different one, but I suppose it goes hand-in-hand with the kind of logic that says that Pirate Bay are being 'censored.' It’s opportunistic and flamebaiting.

    4) Should record shops pay levies too?: I don't know. Should they? Or more pertinently, do they? Shops need a PRS licence. I don't know if PRS let record shops off this and I don't know if record shop owners seek such an exception. What’s your point with this question? Again, I’m wondering if you’ve switched sides in this argument without telling me? It's an interesting, but fading question. Record shops are a dying breed, in London anyway. PRS is a very good example of how a levy can work with VERY limited data. PRS is far from perfect because PRS only have limited data. Google and Facebook have the kind of data that would really make an online equivalent work terrifically well – they could transform the reputation of collecting societies and would help bring real investment back for recording artists. Doing it well could release musicians from the grip that the music business puts them in – after all, ‘the biz’ thrives on a climate where individual artists are unable to invest what they need to in the work that they want to do. Musicians who have a steady income from other sources would transform the climate in which music is produced. I wonder if there will be any write-in campaigns from AVAAZ demanding that this data is released by Google or Facebook?

    5) Who should pay?: Should the Royal Mail pay levies? No. Obviously not. If music is copied onto a CD that was sold as blank, should there be a levy on that? Yes - why not? They work very well in many other jurisdictions - the costs are generally not even passed on to the customers either.

    6) Daily Mail nicking photos: Why have you used Alice Taylor's story about the Daily Mail abusing her copyright as an argument against mine? Surely I should be using it to illustrate MY points? I read Alice's blog occasionally as it happens, and IIRC, she's generally a bit more relaxed about copyright enforcement than I am - I recall being surprised by the post at the time. If you're using this to conflate my arguments with those of Big Media, let me remind you that I'm only bothered by their arguments when it comes to the role they play in creating jobs. I'm very much against voicemail hacking as well - I really don't understand what point you're making here unless, again, you've switched sides in this argument without telling me?

    7) The Pirate Party: Marx would have looked at the Pirate Party the same way that he looked at the likes of Bakunin & Proudhon. He would have seen the objective allies of reactionaries. Given that historians commonly conclude that Proudhon would probably be writing for the Daily Mail these days, I’m with Marx on this. The Pirate Party may imagine that they’re a progressive movement, but they look a good deal more like a Poujadist populist movement to me.

    8) Censorship: No-one is proposing a block on small independent artists of any kind. They have very simple and almost completely free means of distributing their work on any licence that they choose to. TPB only have a moral victory because, for some reason, people with a very short attention span imagine that their illogical 'censorship' argument has a moral basis. It doesn't. Anyone who uses it exposes only their own opportunism. By the way, we’re all angry about Anonymous doing a DDoS on Virgin, aren’t we? After all, that’s CENSORSHIP, isn’t it?

    So, to sum up:
    - Copyright changes should be a negotiation - not a capitulation by rights-holders
    - This negotiation should be symmetrical - not just a case of IP being sacrificed by those that don't have the means to enforce it. Anything else is a limited reintroduction of feudalism.
    - People who benefit from weakness in IP enforcement should expect to share some of their excess profits. Levies are an obvious way to do this and more technically possible than ever before.
    - Collecting societies are a good thing and there should be an enhanced role for them
    - Big digital corporations are quietly but lavishly backing the anti-enforcement horse for very nefarious reasons – their allies should acknowledge this (and acknowledge which side they are taking)

    And finally.....

    Let’s just pause for a minute and enjoy the spectacle of a campaign that gets huge backing from Google making claims about how copyright enforcement is somehow a threat to people’s privacy. Yes. That’s right. Google are the defenders of our privacy. Got that?



This thread has been closed from taking new comments.