Michael Geist on P2P in firstmonday

Piercing the peer%u2013to%u2013peer myths: An examination of the Canadian experience


Canada is in the midst of a contentious copyright reform with advocates for stronger copyright protection maintaining that the Internet has led to widespread infringement that has harmed the economic interests of Canadian artists. The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) has emerged as the leading proponent of copyright reform, claiming that peer-to-peer file sharing has led to billions in lost sales in Canada.

This article examines CRIA’s claims by conducting an analysis of industry figures. It concludes that loss claims have been greatly exaggerated and challenges the contention that recent sales declines are primarily attributable to file-sharing activities. Moreover, the article assesses the financial impact of declining sales on Canadian artists, concluding that revenue collected through a private copying levy system already adequately compensates Canadian artists for the private copying that occurs on peer-to-peer networks.

Sharing as a Strategy

I.B.M. Hopes to Profit by Making Patents Available Free

So why has I.B.M. shifted course recently, giving away some of the fruits of its research instead of charging others to use it? The answer is self-interest.

Diverging from conventional wisdom, the company has calculated that sharing technology can sometimes be more profitable than jealously guarding its property rights on patents, copyrights and trade secrets. The moves by I.B.M., the world’s largest supplier of information technology services and computers, are being closely watched throughout the business world.

[…] “The business world today is engaged in a huge experiment in figuring out what different parts of intellectual property should be open and closed,” said Steven Weber, director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “The fate of many companies, and the strength of national economies, will depend on how the experiment turns out.”

Drew Clark on Grokster

The Battle Between Tinseltown and Techville [pdf]

Creativity and innovation aren’t qualities you’d ordinarily expect to be at war with one another. Both involve a type of inventiveness, a vision of something new, a stepping outside of mental boundaries. Yet in America’s courts, the companies that rely most on creativity and innovation are at each other’s throats.

It’s a battle of culture as much as law. It’s Tinseltown vs. Techville, the glamour people vs. the geeks, those who admire their finished products and those who never finish tinkering. And for each one, an important principle is at stake.

[…] [H]owever, the entertainment industry will press forward, striving to extend the scope of copyright further into the digital world. No matter how the Supreme Court rules, we can expect the dispute to be back before Congress. When it is, Congress shouldn’t forget that acting in the name of creativity could have dire consequences for innovation.

Experimenting with OA Journal Business Models

Open-Access Journals Flourish

“It’s very exciting that publishers the world over are recognizing the benefits of open access and are conducting their own experiments,” said Gavin Yamey, senior editor of PLOS Medicine, one of two flagship journals published by the Public Library of Science, which helped spearhead the concept of providing free online access.

Not everyone is thrilled, however. With some exceptions, journals have done things the old-fashioned way — charging for subscriptions and accepting advertising — for as long as anyone can remember. Many of the biggest names in the journal industry are sticking with the traditional model, and some of their editors say they have major doubts about their new competitors, especially considering the financial pressures they face to stay afloat.

Many of the open-access journals make money by charging researchers who want to have their papers published. At PLOS Medicine and PLOS Biology, for example, authors pay $1,500 each, unless they can’t afford it. (PLOS began with $9 million in grant money, but the funds don’t defray author fees.) Three new PLOS journals scheduled to debut later this year — covering pathogens, genetics and computational biology — will also charge $1,500 an article.

Lessig and Tweedy at the NYPL

Exploring the Right to Share, Mix and Burn

The tickets for the event Thursday sold out in five minutes on the Internet, and on the evening itself the lines stretched down the block. The reverent young fans might as well have been holding cellphones aloft as totems of their fealty.

Then again, this was the New York Public Library, a place of very high ceilings and even higher cultural aspirations, so the rock concert vibe created some dissonance. Inside, things became clearer as two high priests of very different tribes came together to address the question of “Who Owns Culture?” – a discussion of digital file-sharing sponsored by Wired magazine, part of a library series called “Live From the NYPL.”

Both Jeff Tweedy, the leader of the fervently followed rock band Wilco, and Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University law professor who has opposed criminalizing file sharing, seemed to agree that just about anybody who owns a modem also owns – or at least has every right to download – culture products.

[…] Mr. Lessig, one of the philosopher kings of Internet law, and Mr. Tweedy, the crown prince of indie music, traded places more than a few times during the presentation, with Mr. Lessig, who has argued copyright cases before the United States Supreme Court, enthusiastic about the artistic possibilities the Web engenders, and Mr. Tweedy making sapient pronouncements on the theoretical underpinnings of ownership.

“Once you create something, it doesn’t exist in the consciousness of the creator,” Mr. Tweedy said, telling the audience that they had an investment in a song just by the act of listening. Later, at a dinner at Lever House, Mr. Tweedy suggested that downloading was an act of rightful “civil disobedience.”

The New Yorker On The Perils Of Control: Sony

All Together Now

“Not Invented Here” is an old problem at Sony. The Betamax video tape recorder failed in part because the company refused to cooperate with other companies. But in recent years the problem got worse. Sony was late in making flat-screen TVs and DVD recorders, because its engineers believed that, even though customers loved these devices, the available technologies were not up to Sony’s standards. Sony’s cameras and computers weren’t compatible with the most popular form of memory, because Sony wanted people to use its overpriced Memory Sticks. Sony’s online music service sold files in a Sony-only format. And Sony’s digital music players didn’t play MP3s, which is a big reason that the iPod became the Walkman’s true successor. Again and again, Sony’s desire to control everything kept it from controlling anything.

[…] The trend, in other words, is toward what Henry Chesbrough, a business professor at Berkeley, has dubbed “open innovation.” With so many companies investing so much money and energy in innovation, it’s hard for any one of them to consistently outsmart the rest. And technologies are so complex that it’s impractical for a company to gather all the resources it needs under one roof. The spirit of collaboration extends to customers, too. In the new book “Democratizing Innovation,” Eric von Hippel, a management professor at M.I.T., shows that, in fields ranging from surgical instruments and software to kite surfing, customers often come up with new products or new ways of using old ones. Some companies encourage their customers to modify their merchandise. Others, however, do not: when a devoted user of the Aibo, Sony’s robot dog, wrote applications that would allow the Aibo to dance to music, Sony threatened the man with a lawsuit.

Ultimately, Sony doesn’t have much choice: it will either change or continue to come up short.

I Promised …

… That I would post on this upcoming Berkman Center Conference, even though I’m missing it myself in favor of a week in Augusta for the MastersSignal/Noise 2k5

Signal or Noise, a conference series co-hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, the Harvard Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law, and Gartner G2 will be held this year on April 8. Through an exciting mix of performances, demonstrations and panel discussions, Signal/Noise 2k5 will explore audience creativity enabled by digital technologies and built upon commercial media. The conference will examine the questions and possibilities raised by new genres and new roles for artists and consumers. The implications for our legal, ethical, cultural and business environments can be dramatic. An eclectic group of artists, scholars, activists and lawyers will take an entertaining and provocative look at these important issues.

Ed Foster Having A Little April 1 Fun

Copyright Decision Deals Blow to New Technology

U.S. Supreme Court

April 1, 1905

[…] Therefore, in the matter of defendant Thomas Alva Edison versus respondent the Book Authors Guild and respondent the Sheet Music Publishers Association, this court unanimously concurs with the lower court’s decree. In inventing and offering for sale his “moving picture” and “phonograph” devices, the defendant induced countless infringing acts against the holders of copyrights for books and music. Defendant Edison’s assets are to be seized in order to make restitution to the respondents. Furthermore, all phonographs, record players, moving picture equipment and similar devices are to be confiscated and destroyed. All “record” companies and “film studios” most disgorge their ill-gotten gains and henceforth cease and desist all operations now and forevermore.

Some Other Grokster Bits

Sorry to be so late to pull some of these together — a couple of deadlines and more have converged with my planning to get away (to watch the Master’s Golf Tournament next week) have taken up a lot of my time.

  • The Connection show that I didn’t get to listed to (am now, though) [via Copyfight]


    • Declan McCullough, CNET News Chief Political Correspondent

    • Daryl Friedman, VP of Advocacy for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

    • Lawrence Lessig, Law Professor at Stanford Law School and author of “Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity”

    • Fred von Lohmann, Senior Intellectual Property Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, lead lawyer representing file-sharing entities.

  • Donna also points to MGM v. Grokster: Breaking Down the Oral Arguments

    The Grokster oral arguments on Tuesday morning gave us a glimpse into the minds of the Supreme Court Justices. The questions they asked showed that they clearly understood the big picture and the broad implications this case has on the future of innovation. This understanding is undoubtedly good for Grokster and the Justices’ questions made me quite optimistic as to the outcome of the case. Below, I’ll attempt to break down what each Justice is thinking based on the oral arguments. This analysis may give us a hint about the nature of the Court’s decision that will be released sometime in June or July.

Distribution of Specialty Music

Smithsonian Folkways to Open MP3 Music Store [pdf] (http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/)

“This is a museum of sound,” says Richard Kurin, director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Folkways will offer music that ranges from the earliest American folk songs to contemporary groups doing traditional music from Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. The music includes the songs of Woody Guthrie; the music of Mwenda Jean Bosco, the late guitar pioneer from Congo; the sound of the Turkish saz, a stringed instrument similar to a lute; playground songs by Suni Paz of Argentina; and the rich North Indian music of Kamalesh Maitra.

Global Sound will charge 99 cents a song, which are available in MP3 format. The Smithsonian will pay royalties to the artists, as its recording label has done with records and CDs.

[…] “When we saw the blossoming of the Internet, we thought, what if we could use this as a device for opening up the archives?,” says Kurin, who is in charge of the Folkways archives. “People who don’t usually have a voice can have a voice in a democratic, central way.”

With monetary returns to the artists, Kurin hopes the payments establish the ownership of the music. Over the years Folkways has fought to give the original voices their due. “There are world music stars who mine the traditional music, and the question is, what is the ownership, what is the moral commitment and how much is going back? When we give them the money, that establishes the intellectual property rights,” Kurin says.