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.
Given that the guests include Cory (boingboing) Doctorow and Randall (xkcd) Munroe I doubt most anyone will notice I'm there. On the other hand, I can't imagine putting Cory and myself in the same place and NOT having discussions of intellectual property arise. As I've noted before, Cory has been putting some effort into educating SF writers on the status and realities of modern copyright practices. As Guest of Honor at the con he'll have lots of chances to air his views and talk about his different projects
Bruce Schneier has an update on his article for the Guardian describing the "movie plot" efforts to link public photography and anti-terrorist work. The gist is that there is no credible evidence linking public photography - even of public buildings, infrastructure, etc - to terrorist acts. Therefore, acting against photographers is not increasing security - it's just making people feel good and wasting resources.
I had a nice chat last week with Mike O'Donnel of iCopyright about their new service for small and independent publishers. The company has a large for-pay service that is used by large publishers, including news wires, to track the digital progress of copyrighted materials and they're reusing some of that technical infrastructure for the new offering.
O'Donnell noted that previous attempts to let individuals control how their intellectual property is used, particularly Creative Commons, lack a number of useful features. iCopyright is promoting itself as an alternative that is free to small-scale creators, and supported by advertising and partner revenue.
But back up a step - what's wrong with CC and how can it be fixed? Well, some of the lacks are that there is no loopback to the creator. If I put a CC license on my works I have no way to track how those works are being used, or to confirm that something is in compliance with my CC license terms. CC also has no enforcement system and if I wish to charge a fee for use (a term specified in CC licenses) there's no mechanism to help me collect these fees.
As a free-to-creators service this seems like a step forward - we definitely need more active and more powerful tools to turn copyright flexibility and fair use ideas into actionable entities. It's far from the last word, I'm sure.
There's not a whole lot new here for Copyfight readers but it's an interesting checkpoint that draws together several ideas. One is that modern online writing (primarily blogging) is barely paying the bills even for fairly popular writers, particularly those dependent on ad clicks for revenue. Another is that those who are (still) reading books are interested in more than the content of the page - they're looking for connection and probably also participation of some form.
One way to take this is to think of the book as a part of, or maybe just an intro to, a set of experiences such as blogs, chat, conferences, parties, or formal training situations. Not all of these are appropriate for all published books, but genres such as science fiction have long connected writers to their fans through conventions and other gatherings, much less formally organized.
Finally, there's the question of whether or not the book-qua-book will survive all this evolution and revolutionary change. Will things like the Kindle put the book as we know it to rest? Probably not. As Michael Agger documents in his piece for Slate, the act of reading a physical paper book creates distinctly different - and notably pleasurable - mental states that just aren't found yet in any other reading device.
Nobody quite knows why this should be so - perhaps it's something to do with the book-as-artifact, or maybe it's as simple as the fact that we aren't subjected to the same kinds of distractions and interruptions with a physical book as we are subject to when reading online or with an e-book device. However you assign it, though, it seems that books in some form are likely to be around for quite a while. If only we can figure out how to keep publishing profitable...
The report's site contains a summary of the report's findings, a downloadable PDF of the full report and an online FAQ describing their research methods and key findings. I haven't digested the full thing yet, but the three basic conclusions are stated pretty bluntly:
Anyone can be framed for copyright infringement. The remote and automated generation of complaints shifts the burden significantly onto the accused to prove their innocence.
In addition to malicious framing, innocent people can still be erroneously fingered, even if they've never run a P2P program
Privacy in P2P networks is partial or illusory at best