Dr. Wu’s* The Master Switch

July 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Copyright and IP, Technology | Leave a comment

I first learned about this book when I got the news that Tim Wu was going to be coming to the school to do a talk on it.** It’s a really engaging read. He sets the scenes well and pulls the reader in, while still advancing his larger point.

Which is basically that with the introduction of any new technology–and the disruption of the old models of monetizing whatever previous technology or methods are being displaced by the new innovations–there’s a period of openness. Experimentation prevails. There is a flourishing of creativity and of different models, different voices and so on. People can set up backyard equivalents of the new technology and put out their services or creations and reach some audience.

And then, things start to close down. The public, initially enamoured of the wide selection and the plurality of voices, starts to get drawn to something that is more mediated–and therefore of more consistent quality. And so, the entrepreneurs who manage create a model that mediates and distributes most effectively while using the new technology will prevail. Continue Reading Dr. Wu’s* The Master Switch…


Copyright in the Digital World Part II: Why Shift Focus?

July 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Copyright and IP, writing | Leave a comment

So, if it’s no longer about copying (or shouldn’t be) and it’s actually about use (or should be), then the question is: what do I mean by use*?

The way I see it, there are a lot of different ways that a work can be used:

  • “consumed” (read, listened to, etc.)
  • distributed
  • sold
  • adapted
  • sampled
  • etc.

With digitization, all these uses can be appropriated by anyone with a computer and the right programs installed.

By contrast, there are many benign reasons for copying a work and making multiple reproductions of it (e.g. so you have access to it from your various devices; printing off a fresh copy if you left your printout elsewhere and need to look at the work on the page etc.)–none of which are in any way cutting into the creator/rights holder’s ability to profit from their work, but which are illegal under a regime that emphasizes the right to copy.

Continue Reading Copyright in the Digital World Part II: Why Shift Focus?…

Copyright in the Digital World Part I: The Challenge

July 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Copyright and IP, Technology, writing | 2 Comments

Here in Canada, there is a great deal of discussion about (c)–copyright–reform. But there’s a problem. Where before, the process of copying was limited by technology, these days, you can copy with the right click of a mouse. You can then disseminate the work to a vast number of people with a few more clicks.

From what I can tell, in order to get a functional legal regime in place, you have to strike the right balance between culture and law. Right now, the two are widely divergent. We have laws that say: don’t copy. It’s illegal. It’s not your right.

And we have a culture–and supporting technology–that makes it absurdly easy to copy and ridiculously difficult to catch infringers and enforce any restrictions on copying, without raising privacy and security issues (e.g. once there’s a gap created to monitor copying, others can also exploit said gaps).

So, why are we so big on protecting the right to copy? There are a lot of stakeholders in the current regime–people who have business models built around protecting the right to copy. And that right goes back a bit.

Continue Reading Copyright in the Digital World Part I: The Challenge…

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