Monday, December 21, 2009

The Digital Economy and Copyright

I'm slowly finding comments from around the traps on the Realising our Broadband Future forum. Some really perceptive comments have been made by Roger Clarke.

Roger was highlighting the "public policy" issues thrown up by the NBN. He welcomes the realisation of the Government's role in building this kind of infrastructure, but worries about "censorship". I won't trawl over that again.

e is quite perceptive on the e-health and e-education challenges. The former needs to be about facilitating connection between separate initiatives - not one new "initiative". The latter risks being stifled by the concerns about the dangers of the online world.

He suggests that the consumer voice was missing, and perhaps it was from everything but the community stream. He is right that there are consumer prtection issues that emerge everywhere, and they are not just privacy or equity.

He steered into copyright saying "There was frequently a very large elephant in the room in the form of copyright legislation that's become completely lop-sided in favour of copyright-owners, and is completely at odds with the modern world that every session was enthusing about. Quite simply, we have to get the responsibility for the Copyright Act transferred to an agency that understands the digital age. But no-one talked about that."

That's a really interesting proposition given that the AS of the DE area has a background in copyright, at least in the creation of "Creative Commons" licences. I think I wrote here sometime about the problem Terry Cutler had trying to get Government to apply a CC licence to a report, and as they couldn't understand it gave Terry the copyright himself.

There is really a two-fold concern. Firstly that there aren't enough options for rights holders to deal with rights - that is what the creative commons is trying to address. But the second is that the legal interpretation of the right has become too restrictive - or alternatively too rigid.

Many of the interesting digital issues will be dealt with in the current iiNet case. Either way we are likely to find the need for some new legislation on copyright.

We might then make the same observation as Tom Watson;

[The record industry exec's] letter seems confused. On the one hand, he trumpets the tremendous success and creativity of the music industry. On the other, he suggests that piracy is destroying the business. I’ve been struck at the sheer magnitude of the recorded music industry lobby around the Digital Economy Bill. I’m going to prod around a little more when Parliament returns in the New Year.

The challenge in sorting through copyright issues is in making sure that the rights of original creators ae prserved, but not the existing business models that trade in those rights. In the regulation of on-line shopping you want to protect the consumer and the producer, but not the existing briocks-and-mortar retailers.

It creates some interesting challenges because, as we know, it is the middle me who have the most to lose.

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