Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Copyright Law doesn't work

I'm at the On-Line Information Conference in London today. It's primarily for Information specialists and librarians, but I spoke at it last year and enjoyed a lot of the presentations, so thought I would come down this year for just one day of it.

Opening session is someone I follow on twitter and read a lot of what he writes, Cory Doctorow. His title, "There is no copyright policy, there is only Internet policy, there is not Internet policy, only policy" looks interesting!

Copyright is a regulatory framework for the entertainment industry who have also been responsible for laws, writing them etc. Nothing wrong with a big industry being regulated, but has to have some sort of test to see if you are within the regulatory framework. In copyright, this is handling a copy of a piece of work. OK when dealing with some media eg print, but does not work now. In the past, observance of the rule was as much a technological thing as legal ie difficult to copy a movie or a book. But now, we have computers and the internet. All computers do is make copies. Look at how many copies are made in buffers and caches everytime you click a mouse.

We talk about a difference between streaming and downloading. But only way for a file to render on your computer is for a copy to be made. The only difference is that streaming doesn't have a save button. Still a copy.
Need to come up with another test to see if we are within the law, but entertainment industry haven't done that. Still use the arcane "copy" rule. But internet and computers are vital to everything we do, so this is ridiculous.

Martha Lane Fox and PWC did research looking at benefits of internet by using communities in socially deprived areas where some had free access to the internet, some didn't. They found that every aspect of life is enhanced. Better grades at school, better jobs, health outcomes. More civically engaged, better informed about current affairs, more likely to vote.

Soon, all services will by default be delivered on Internet including benefits etc. Policy has to be changed, currently there is no public interest, policy is ONLY made to benefit the entertainment industry.

Digital locks cannot be removed or disabled. But they stop us doing things. So, we remove them. So they are hidden. So they can't be removed. So we can't see all files on our PCs. This is a bad thing. Good example Orwellian. Amazon recently removed copies of 1984 book from all Kindles because it was an unauthorised copy. Orwellian or what? If you work in a bookstore, can't go into someone's house and remove books.

1995 Sony sold 50 audio CDs with root kits on- some files on which watched what you did and if you copied music, would shut down. Owners couldn't see them, great opportunity for virus writers. Many hundreds thousands of computers infected.

2 yrs ago MacBooks given to kids in US school with camera able to be turned on remotely without green light on. School in effect spying on student.
This year leasing company installed software on loan laptops which could be used to record everything, what they did, where they were, videos of them etc. In theory to recover computers if payment stopped. Scary.

In future we will have computers in our bodies, eg if we lose our hearing. We must not have things in them hidden from the owners. We have to trust them. Also in planes, cars.

Entertainment industry has called for easy censorship of networked material. They want "notice and take down". Not just used by entertainment industry but by others, eg Middle East dictators, Church of Scientology. No judicial review or oversight.

Viacom has taken a case out against YouTube. YouTube get 72 hours of video uploaded every minute. Not enough copyright lawyer hours remaining between now and the end of the universe to examine every bit of video uploaded. Viacom have said YouTube are acting illegally by not having every minute of video reviewed before it goes live! Also saying YT is a party to infringement because it allows private videos, ie ones that can only be seen by friends and family, and therefore Viacom can't police them.

Three strikes is even worse. If you are accused of three acts of copyright infringement, you and your family lose your Internet access. Has been passed too quickly and badly in many countries including this one where is was passed without proper debate in the "wash up" before the election.

Copyright not fit for purpose for regulating the internet. But not good for regulating the entertainment industry either! DRM is a disaster for writers and creators of content. Lots of authors etc now avoiding big players and using open ways of publishing. Using PayPal, twitter, blogger, youtube, etc. Free stuff available to all which copyright law would kill.

Copyright law must be changed. It must not be used to rule the Internet. The Internet is so much more than the entertainment industry.

Absolutely excellent talk. Sorry if notes are a little disjointed, so much excellent content in it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

ChrisW said...

Ahh copyright law. The "bad guys" out to make a profit simply ignore it and easily bypass the controls that are put in place. At the same time it confuses those who simply want to access content. So many people who have no intention of causing harm are scared that they may infringe or have to jump through hoops to get access to the stuff they want to pay the content owners for.

Trying to explain to a four year old why he has to sit through copyright notices on DVDs that simply don't appear when he watches the same content with an online stream makes you realise just how silly it's all become.