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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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March 21, 2005

Music Wants to Feel Free

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The Future of Digital Media is back. Helmed as always by the excellent Ernie Miller, the uniformly high-quality Corante series today offers a fresh interview. It's with Gerd Leonhard and Dave Kusek, the authors of "The Future of Music" -- a book Larry Lessig deems "fantastically interesting."

Together, Leonhard and Kusek describe a future digital environment for selling music "like water" rather than by unit, arguing for a Netflix-like system where you "rent" access to music and musicians are paid a share of the money collected based on what you listen to. Explains Leonhard:


The battle for distribution and delivery of music is just about over, because pretty soon the digital availability of music anytime anywhere will become a default (in away, it already is!). EXPOSURE and DISCOVERY will then emerge as the biggest must-haves in the future -- just getting the right user to pay attention to you. Music will "feel like free" and will flow like water -- everybody gets music, everybody pays but it will still "feel like free."

Well worth the read -- and a nice opportunity to check out the previous interviews in the series, which together make for a broad-yet-never-shallow survey of current perspectives on the so-called digital transition:

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Big Thoughts


COMMENTS

1. Plasmacutter on March 23, 2005 2:38 AM writes...

Tell me.. how will this network "feel like free" to me, a mac user who keeps company with communities of remix, mashup, and sampler artists when the necessary component to enforce rentals are closed standard, proprietary, and drm impaired formats.

Unfortunately this scenario seems to once again assume passive consumption. I can tell you with great certainty that more people desire to play a part in the remix culture than even lessig would think.

Even the most computer illiterate subset of my fellow peers carries a substantial percentage of remix culture enthusiasts.

While one of my friends uses complicated DJ gear, good old records, mp3's, and a laptop with editing software to create custom tracks for private school events, another uses complex script based video effect and encoding tools to create professional looking anime music videos to express his fandom, and yet another uses a huge mix of opensource and i-apps to make mashups which reflect deeply and potently on society and politics. To round it out.. another of my friends makes fanfiction and uses copyrighted images and trademarked characters in order to reflect his interests, and has thousands of readers.

The vast majority of this would be impossible with DRM, which tips the common law balance of fair vs reserved use on it's head.

Fair use used to be a near default in copyright law, with the burdon placed upon the copyright holder to challenge those noncommercial uses which can be proven to demonstrate harm.

This assured that only uses harmful enough to provide economic incentive for litigation would be subject to regulation, and resulted in great flexibility among end user tools.

DRM combined with laws which prevent development of circumvention allow these interests to make the default in copyright to be to deny all uses but what was intended for the "average" case. (even in excess of copyright)

If you want to draw an equivalency with cutting tools, it would be like somehow regulating that, because blades can be used for murder, they should be limited to no greater size than a steak knife. This of course places contruction workers who build our infrastructure in terrible straits, as their saws would be illegal.

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