back to article Hooper's copyright hubs - could be a big British win with BBC backing

A British copyright swap-shop may turn out to be one of the coalition government's unexpected success stories. The notion of an industry-funded and industry-led "Digital Copyright Exchange", now called a "Copyright Hub", was recommended by Prof Ian Hargreaves in Number 10's "Google Review" of intellectual property, and is …

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Windows

Recognising that the stripping of metadata on a commercial scale ..

... can already constitute a criminal offence as well as a civil infringement, we call on all organisations that regularly use and resize pictures, such as broadcasters and newspapers, to agree a voluntary [Oh Dear] code of practice in which they publicly commit to: (1) end the practice of stripping metadata from images and (2) refuse to use images for which there is no metadata attached.

Yeah, right.

If the likes of Mail Online and the BBC ALREADY treat images in a way which "can already constitute a criminal offence as well as a civil infringement" according to the law then asking them to stick to a lame code of conduct is rather pointless, especially if pre-existing laws are not enforced. © The Internet by Daily Mail Reporter ?

What''s needed is a strong disincentive. Like fines, big ones, and a 500% fee uplift for non permissioned use.

https://www.plusregistry.org

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Re: Recognising that the stripping of metadata on a commercial scale ..

Yup, quite agree. Strip out the 'voluntary' bit and link the practices directly to their dubious legality, and it would go a long way. Not enough to satisfy everything, but a bloody good start.

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Holmes

Just wondering...

How exactly would metadata help stop those dastardly "thieves" who dare to compose photos that are merely similar to others, such as in the infamous Temple Island case, for example?

And what use is metadata when so much of what is purportedly an "original", copyrighted work is actually a blatant rip-off?

Using and preserving metadata, by law or otherwise, seems rather moot, under the circumstances. We'd need to have a voting system to decide which plagiarist's metadata to preserve, and even then it would still be a somewhat arbitrary decision, given the highly and inescapably derivative nature of all supposedly "creative" works.

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Re: Just wondering...

How exactly would metadata help stop those dastardly "thieves" who dare to compose photos that are merely similar to others, such as in the infamous Temple Island case, for example?

In the same way that you use a screwdriver to pound in a nail. Metadata doesn't solve the problem you linked to because it's not designed to. The problem you linked to appears to be an edge case, about which even the judge involved was not happy because it wasn't really well covered by the law. I doubt that it's representative of the majority of copyright issues.

And what use is metadata when so much of what is purportedly an "original", copyrighted work is actually a blatant rip-off?

Well, in the second case you linked to, if metadata were included in the actual original, then the stripping of it to produce the rip-off would have been a crime, would it not? And leaving it in would have been the proof of copying that the original artist needed. So either way the original artist would have had some more legal recourse.

Using and preserving metadata, by law or otherwise, seems rather moot, under the circumstances. We'd need to have a voting system to decide which plagiarist's metadata to preserve, and even then it would still be a somewhat arbitrary decision, given the highly and inescapably derivative nature of all supposedly "creative" works.

No voting system would be needed. The rule would be very simple: preserve ALL the metadata. Then each work would have a derivation tree from which you could determine the sources. As a side benefit, you'd eventually be able to get a good idea of how derivative a work is just by the size of the metadata.

You can't determine the value of a solution solely by the existence of edge cases, of which there will always be some. You need to determine how effective it will be overall -- and accept a reasonable level of ineffectiveness. 100% effective solutions don't exist.

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Holmes

Re:"Edge cases"

You seem to have missed the crucial point that if the entire purpose of metadata is to establish "ownership", and there are multiple instances of independently produced but essentially the same works, none of which ever contained the others' metadata to begin with, then how exactly does metatdata help the Intellectual Monopolist's cause?

And that isn't an "edge case", it's the entire foundation of Intellectual Monopoly, which claims "exclusive rights" to creative works, all of which are inescapably derivative, and that's why "creative" works within each category are all so alike. Protecting metadata in verbatim copies is therefore somewhat moot, under the circumstances, if all examples of the genre are copies anyway, and even the "original" ... isn't.

As for the unlimited attribution metadata you propose, that might be difficult, given the innumerable, potentially uncredited and largely forgotten or unknown contributors, spanning thousands of years, whose ideas have accreted into the pool of knowledge from which Intellectual Monopolists now claim their "exclusive rights". Even if we could discover all their names, and verify the specifics of each contribution, how would we fit those millions of names into the metadata for today's derivative "creative" works, whilst still keeping file sizes manageable?

I'm not trying to hammer anything with a screwdriver, I'm just trying to figure out why you think your so-called "edge cases" are exceptions rather than the rule, and how legally enforcing and protecting metadata will miraculously endow today's derivative works with originality worthy of Intellectual Monopoly protection.

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Re: Edge cases"

Both the cause of and the solution to the Tragedy of the Commons is private ownership. Both 'sides' of this debate should try harder to see the other's perspective.

It would be helpful if Homer 1 would admit of just one example of a morally valid use case of Intellectual Monopoly, regardless of implementation issues. It is not necessary to admit all, or even most, but I think many people agree that creativity exists and should be able to confer market value - in principle at least. Last week, somebody argued to me that Tim Berners-Lee should not be getting credit for creating the WWW, since so much of that system was derived from pre-existing work. I feel this line of reasoning throws out the baby with the bathwater. And I am not even speaking about commercialisation here (TimBL eventually gave it away). Just the basic point that his creative input made the WWW a reality and without it we'd all have been so much the poorer.

Homer 1 makes some good points about implementation. If I understood Hooper correctly, the meta data size issue would be handled using links rather than accretion. Stripped metadata remains an issue though. Even if it's illegal, the law is moot when not enforceable. I have designed a metadata solution, but this post would become too long and off-topic to tell it. Also, I agree with Homer 1 that the current system of conferring legal monopoly is more bad than good. Wholesale change, not abolition.

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Re: Edge cases

You seem to have missed the crucial point that if the entire purpose of metadata is to establish "ownership", and there are multiple instances of independently produced but essentially the same works, none of which ever contained the others' metadata to begin with, then how exactly does metatdata help the Intellectual Monopolist's cause?

And that isn't an "edge case", it's the entire foundation of Intellectual Monopoly, which claims "exclusive rights" to creative works, all of which are inescapably derivative, and that's why "creative" works within each category are all so alike. Protecting metadata in verbatim copies is therefore somewhat moot, under the circumstances, if all examples of the genre are copies anyway, and even the "original" ... isn't.

Your entire argument is predicated on the assertion that these multiple instances are the rule, rather than the exception, and that all modern works are derivative. Yet the only support you've provided for this assertion is two rather weak individual cases. Prove, with valid research and statistical analysis, that the majority of modern works are significantly derivative.

You'll notice I went from "derivative" to "significantly derivative" there. This is because it's easy to argue that nearly every modern work must be derivative to some degree. But simply using the same words or key signature or imagery is not in se plagiarism. A much greater degree of similarity between an original work and a subsequent work needs to be shown to support a case of plagiarism.

Furthermore, neither of the cases you presented involved "independently produced but essentially the same" works. In the first case, the defendants were aware of the original image and of the copyright on it (one of them had previously settled for a similarly infringing work). The second case involved the sampling, or cognizant use, of a piece of music. In both cases, the latter works were produced with awareness of preceding works and thus could not be considered to be truly "independently produced."

I'm just trying to figure out why you think your so-called "edge cases" are exceptions rather than the rule

Well, partly because that's inherent in the definition of the term "edge case", but mostly because I made the apparently incorrect assumption that you wanted to provide a logical argument rather than an emotional one, and thus could be counted on to provide a significant proportion of the evidence available. If two cases are a significant proportion of the cases which fit your argument, then we are talking about exceptions rather than the rule. If, on the other hand, you have evidence that shows that a significant percentage of copyright disputes involve "independently produced but essentially the same" works, please provide it.

As for the unlimited attribution metadata you propose, that might be difficult, given the innumerable, potentially uncredited and largely forgotten or unknown contributors, spanning thousands of years...

Well, since there is no jurisdiction where copyright extends to thousands of years, that's really not a problem. While the retention of metadata past the end of copyright might be useful for academic purposes, it's not necessary from a legal standpoint.

Finally, I think I need to explain the screwdriver/nail issue a little better to you. The primary issue that metadata governance is intended to resolve is that of orphan works (and the potential abuse of that concept.) Currently, it can be difficult for an individual who wishes to use a work to identify and thus properly compensate/attribute the original creator of the work because of missing metadata (whether cause by the original creator not including metadata or by an intermediary stripping out the metadata during some conversion process.) It is also an easy exercise for a willful infringer to remove the metadata from a work and then claim ignorance. With proper metadata governance, the missing metadata would become a very rare event, and hence the claim of ignorance of the original source would be much harder to sustain. This is a completely different issue than that of recreating a photoshopped image or sampling/remixing a piece of music. It's also very different from the philosophical argument between Intellectual Monopolists, as you call them, and Creative Anarchists, as it's beginning to appear that you are.

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Holmes

Re: "significantly derivative"

Well first, the concept of "significant" is wholly subjective, and second, it contradicts the absolutist terms imposed by "exclusive rights". If I rob your house, but don't steal a "significant" quantity of goods, does that mean I now have the moral "right" to call your goods my exclusive property?

I just find it rather perplexing how Intellectual Monopolists so viciously persecute those who dare to utilise even an insignificant portion of their so-called "exclusive property", and yet seem so reluctant to recognise the significant contributions which mostly comprise that "property" in the first place. It's crass hypocrisy.

But if these "two rather weak individual cases" are not enough to convince you, I can easily furnish you with many more, none of which are "weak" by any means. In fact I'd find it far more difficult to find any examples of Intellectual Monopoly that weren't morally indefensible.

In addition to the four (yes, four - check again) examples I already gave you, not including the above two Prince examples in this post, pertaining to Temple Island's "similar composition" copyright; two supposedly "different" but nearly identical film soundtracks with indefensibly different copyrights; Men at Work plagiarising an old folk song then claiming the end result as their "exclusive property"; and Timbaland openly plagiarising an in-game sountrack then sneering about it - and worse, getting away with it, here's "About 980,000 results" from YouTube demonstrating the crass hypocrisy of Intellectual Monopoly, each video of which has multiple entries. It's not exactly hard to find, just follow the breadcrumbs.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on forever, even with examples that have not (yet) come to court, because the truth of the matter is that the concept of true "originality" is nothing but a myth, unless (to paraphrase Judge Alex Kozinski, US Court of Appeals 9th Circuit) you want to go back to the days when we first tamed fire. So claiming to be the "exclusive" owner of this wholly unoriginal faux "property" is a palpable lie.

The "thousands of years" of contributions may not be relevant to the legal argument, but they certainly are relevant to the moral argument. Indeed it's the contradiction between the law and morality in copyright that I have the greatest objection to, which is exactly why I call for its abolition. In that respect, the Intellectual Monopolists seem to be the most "wilful infringers" of them all.

Enforcing metadata on this plagiarism only serves to compound what is already a travesty of justice.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: "significantly derivative"

It's Troll O'Clock

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Coat

Re: "significantly derivative"

Well first, the concept of "significant" is wholly subjective...

Tell that to a statistician.

and second, it contradicts the absolutist terms imposed by "exclusive rights".

No, it doesn't. "Exclusive rights" pertain only to works which reach a significant level of complexity to begin with (e.g, you can't claim copyright on Middle C played on a piano for one half-beat.)

If I rob your house, but don't steal a "significant" quantity of goods, does that mean I now have the moral "right" to call your goods my exclusive property?

It has been successfully argued (usually by those on your side of this debate) that copyright infringement is not theft. Since that has been well-proven, I won't bother to repeat it here. Suffice to say that one of the many differences between the two is the significance factor.

But if these "two rather weak individual cases" are not enough to convince you, I can easily furnish you with many more...

I asked for data, not anecdotal evidence. The closest you come to that is your "about 980,000" figure. But that is based on an overly broad search term on YouTube, which has so much derivative and rehashed content that I'd guess less than 1 in 50 of those results actually represents a unique case.

The "thousands of years" of contributions may not be relevant to the legal argument, but they certainly are relevant to the moral argument.

Since this is a discussion about an article about law, and not moral philosophy, your moral argument is out of place to begin with. Even so, you do no justice to it with these emotional arguments. Provide some good statistics and logical analysis rather than anecdotal evidence and emotional hyperbole (e.g, "tip of the iceberg", "go back to the days when we tamed fire", etc.)

Indeed it's the contradiction between the law and morality in copyright that I have the greatest objection to...

The law is not a moral device. It's a social construct. Copyright law, especially, is not a law of moral enforcement. I'm not going to take the time to explain this basic difference to you, as there are plenty of resources which can do that. Some of them even have pictures!

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Re: Just wondering...

"How exactly would metadata help stop those dastardly "thieves" who dare to compose photos that are merely similar to others, such as in the infamous Temple Island case, for example?"

You do realise that judges are humans too, right? They're not infallible. This ridiculous ruling will—and certainly should—be overturned given that one of the core tents of Copyright Law is that you cannot copyright an idea; only its execution! The judge was wrong.

Re. The "Men At Work" case: Having heard the original folk piece as well as the "Men At Work" song, I can only assume the judge was tone deaf. The "Men At Work" song's flute riff is not the same as the nursery rhyme. It does have a similar feel and progression—the music video for the track even appears to acknowledge the nursery rhyme's influence—but there are more than enough differences between the two that anyone with reasonable musical skills should be able to tell them apart easily. I certainly can and I'm only an amateur keyboardist.

Still, such judgements are inherently subjective. And this is why we have courts.

Creative works are not "inherently derivative", however. Yes, there is no shortage of derivative works today—one of the curses of computers is that they make copying and pasting stuff very, very easy, hence all the endless remixes shite we get on each single now—but that does not make all creative works equally derivative. (Incidentally, The Fugees' "Ready Or Not" would have been a far better example for your argument: it's basically just them shouting someone else's lyrics over a slightly distorted loop of Enya's "Boadicea". That really was derivative, in every sense of the word. They didn't ask Enya's permission to use her track and she was not pleased.)

But the fact remains that the mere existence of shit does not mean everything is shit. Sturgeon's Law applies to everything, including creative works: 90% of everything is crud. But that still leaves the 10% that isn't.

Do you seriously believe that "Gulliver's Travels"—considered the Western world's first true novel—was "derivative"? If so, of what? How about games like "Pac-Man" and "Space Invaders"? Neither has an obvious predecessor that they could have been derived from.

You could argue also that Mozart, Beethoven and Bach were "derivative", because their music usually stuck to the conventions of the day. Yet Beethoven's famous "Ode To Joy" was the first time anyone had included a vocal and choral component in a symphony. Who, pray, did he derive that from?

Granted, there are often common design patterns – templates, even – that many lazier creative types love to use. The classic Hollywood movie formula is basically Vogler's "The Writer's Journey". This was most famously abused by George Lucas' first Star Wars movie—you can literally tick off each of the Archetypes in the same order as they appear in the book!

And, yes, Vogler's books are basically just a summary of Joseph Campbell's own "The Hero With A Thousand Faces". Vogler's work is clearly derivative here. Despite explicitly telling readers NOT to treat his book as a simple formula or template, Vogler's work has been used precisely in that way since the 1970s. Which is why 90% of Hollywood's output is crud.

This debate is not about that 90%. That 90% is sludge. Noise. It's not relevant to the discussion. The point is to encourage that remaining 10% to keep creating genuinely original works.

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Terminator

Hmmm

"How much, if any public money is required"?

Whatever happened to old Maggie's market driven ethos?

Let those who will profit bear the cost - I for one am sick of funneling public money into private, capacious pockets

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Stop

I suppose...

...fiddling around the edges of copyright regulation with the view of improving it is better than nothing. But not by much.

What's missing is the international approach (nothing much can happen without intentional agreement), and a genuine fix for the 'orphaned works' problem is still very wanting.

(It's estimated that up to 90% of the works in 20th C. are orphaned and thus no one can use or copy them legitimately, as copyright law forbids the copying of them--having no known owner or publisher, even if the works are half a century of more old, is irrelevant.

Moreover, present copyright holders--although they've no claim on these orphaned works--strongly oppose their freeing up and being placed in the public domain, as many of these works still compete in the marketplace (just by being there).

For example, a high school English or maths text book orphaned from say the 1930s, '40s, '50s, with minor additions and or corrections could still be used by schools today (it'd be a boon to poor schools). Instead, keeping orphaned works out of the public domain feeds the gravy-train of many second-raters who milk this market for all that it's worth (at our expense of course).)

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Re: I suppose...

Shorter copyright terms would solve the problem you highlight with textbooks. In my opinion 15 years should be more than enough as opposed to the current situation where it's the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. Releasing orphaned works to the public domain just encourages large companies to create orphaned works by stripping metadata (as shown by the BBC et al).

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@Fibbles - Re: I suppose...

"Shorter copyright terms would solve the problem."

Agreed, but getting 15 years would be highly unlikely methinks. Some models seem to indicate that on average 17 years is the point where the law of diminishing (economic) returns becomes indisputable. Frankly, I think that the only way shorter copyright can work (shorter than Berne's original 50 years that is), is to have some form of sliding scale. Copyright would be fully valid up to say some point, 15, 17 years or whatever, (based on some statistical model of income model etc.). Thereafter, for copyright to remain valid, extensions would only be granted on a year-to-year basis and based, say, on a significant demonstrable income from the previous year. Below a set threshold based on previous income, copyright would expire.

Of course, this is only pipe-dream as the minimum duration of the Berne Convention is 50 years. Getting signatory countries from around the world to all agree to changing this anytime soon is just fanciful.

"Releasing orphaned works to the public domain just encourages large companies to create orphaned works by stripping metadata (as shown by the BBC et al)."

Yes, this is seriously a potential problem, it happens now with out-of-copyright material (old books etc., especially classic texts of their day). This is easily fixed however, by ensuring that (a) all orphaned and out-of-copyright works not be re-copy-writable once they've entered the public domain and (b) that on complete reprints or complete/integral works that all original attribution, titling, frontispiece info etc. and any other metadata be maintained for a further period--say 50 years--once works have entered the public domain, and (c) trivial additions and or corrections (the new publisher's editorial etc.) not be able to be copyrighted so as to protect the work's public domain status. (Publishers regularly add a page or two to a public domain work then claim full copyright status for the work, such action should be totally outlawed). There are also other schemas to prevent abuse, I've not time to mention them here.

The major objection to any of these schemes is that copyright would, again (as once in the US) have to be registered. Once, before the internet, this was a chore, and as we've seen, even movies from large/important movies houses have sometimes failed to be re-registered, thus fallen out of copyright.

Orphaned works, having no known owners, should be much easier to legislate one would think. Unfortunately, Berne ties this up very neatly too.

Irrespective, I reckon all metadata should be faithfully preserved with the work for at least 50 years after the work enters the public domain. Not only would this keep the integrity of the work intact but it'd also put a halt on everything from plagiarism through to carpetbaggers double-dipping by passing off public domain works as copyrighted material. However, the rules applying to excepts/extracts, mash-ups, etc. from public domain material would be less strict than for a full work. Nevertheless, as I see it, essentially no work, whether in the public domain or not, should be passed off as someone else's work. Use by all means subject copyright status, but attribution should be perpetual except in trivial instances (after all, this is just common decency).

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What metadata should be protected?

The idea that removing any metadata should be stopped is a dangerous one, as it could lead to images being attributable to people who really don't want that in public (e.g. photo of a crime, personal adverts on dating sites, etc).

What is needed is some sensible machine & human readable metadata for copyright that is protected by law, and maybe some hash of the rest (date.time, camera settings, GPS coords, etc) if it is missing. That way images' ownership can be traced as needed, but are not identifiable so easily unless the photographer applied their public 'signature'.

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Megaphone

Pictures worth a thousand dollars(words) if I can fetch it.

Good! And let content creators negotiate their own pricing as well. We all have respect for the APs, Gettys and so on, but we don't need every piece of photography going the way of music publishing and licensing..... Way to expensive for anybody to strike a deal and make money. No disrespect. But like the man said get on with it.

Vanishing Post. And I'm Freshp

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simples

Remove any publishers TV or print licence if they are proved to be a "pirate". Oh noes, we cannot do that because UK businesses such as the beeb would be out of business in less than a month!

No the orphaned works act is a loophole so that the beeb can use a third party to remove metadata and then define the images as orphaned works and steal them legit. They can even charge the owner fees for use!

b-tards.

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Thumb Up

Sounds pragamatic and *encourages* people to do something.

I think the bulk of people are not really against *creators* being rewarded for their creativity but do get *very* p**sed off at the prices that media companies charge for their products and the (relatively) small amount that somehow manages to get to the creators.

This seems to be a good plan.

Lets hope it does not get by the bureaucrats with their agenda.

Thumbs up for a plan.

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