How can we begin to unpick the tangled mess that the technology and creative industries have created? There's certainly no shortage of blame to go around. In the past every new wave of technology has delivered healthy creative markets - but today this is no longer happening. Just 20 years since the birth of the internet …
Fails to reach the heart of the matter
Orlowski's title looked promising but his argument was a complete load of bollocks.
"The current impasse between technology and copyright sectors is certainly an odd one."
Bollocks: the copyright holders are controlling the flow of money and will not relinquish the same without force. Human greed drives all factions in the debate.
"At the heart of this virtuous circle, copyright has been the obscure back-room business-to-business mechanism that keeps the players honest."
Bollocks: copyright has been the mechanism which protects the few power holders from the wishes of the general public.
"The markets are either sickly or don't exist, and an enormous amount of money that should be flowing both to innovative internet companies and creative industries isn't."
Bollocks: money should not be flowing to INDUSTRIES, it should be flowing to creative people now that computing and the Internet have removed the need for the middlemen operating 'the industries'. An inexpensive Internet should become the new 'middleman' and the old industries should be retired. Quickly.
[1. Authors should be able to self-publish without publishing houses taking huge cuts.
2. Money should move between your computer and my computer, without the need for banks or VISA taking a huge cut.
3. Telecommunications giants should be cut down to manage only backbones connecting community-funded OPLAN's.
4. Whilst Moore's law still holds the cost of computing and networking should be halving every 18 months. Then it should be divided by 10 once the cloud allows efficient sharing of resources (currently wasted in the business model which enforces everyone to buy their own individual item).
5. etc etc.
"The simple thing is to get both sides focussed on making money."
Bollocks: the best thing is push for a global devaluation of IT by effiecint sharing facilitated by a cloud architecture NOT controlled by the current incumbents.
"I suspect money is the key, though."
"How can we realign the players in an internet economy that has gone so badly off the rails?"
Replace the incumbent industries with the Internet i.e. just as canals disappeared from the economy once trains had been invented; so newspapers, music publishers, local Telecommunications, basic banking operations ... and the like should die out rapidly. In all previous Industrial Revolutions the incumbent operators went out of business or were marginalised. The difference his time is that they have global reach and power against feeble Governmnets and apathetic consumers - it will be much more difficult to oust them.
Don't start me on estate agents and lawyers :-(
Re: Fails to reach the heart of the matter
I spy a Unicorn in this comment. Have you ever tried to form a contract with 'the Internet" and get money for your creative content? And I suspect there is a good reason why the Bank of England has not yet promised to pay the bearer of a p2p 'internet cash' token.
Re: Fails to reach the heart of the matter
So your argument is to destroy the industry as a whole rather than the near-monopolistic industry 'leaders'? I guess you'll sit around afterwards wondering why all these independent content producers aren't creating anything as complex as the Game Of Thrones tv series? The fact is the industry is useful for gathering together talent, sourcing funding and providing the whole enterprise with structure. The problem is that the industry is currently dominated by entrenched players who have no will to innovate.
Copyright holders are NOT controlling the flow of money
Copyright holders are controlling the flow of original content.
Remove copyright and the flow will turn into a trickle.
It's the licensor(s) who control the flow of money, either collected from advertisers or via subscription and paid to the copyright holders to create content. That's your directors, film camera people, editors, writers, stills ... then there's the vast industries supporting the creatives .... Everything from catering to wardrobe to stunts to runners.
If the licensor(s) can't see a clear way to profit then they won't pay for original content.
Copyright is the least problematic of the so called "problem" yet vopyright it's the main focus of so many misguided commentards.
Preserving copyright is key to providing an incentive for people to create the sort of content viewers want to watch. Remove copyright, remove incentive. Get even more bland homogenised content.
Re: Copyright holders are NOT controlling the flow of money
I'm not sure your logic holds up, tbh.
I've seen a number of TV & film productions distributed by their producers as free-to-watch (for examples, Pioneer One and The Tunnel). They seem to be using a mix of investment, crowdfunding, and after-viewing media sales to their audience as their revenue streams. Of the stuff I've watched, everything has been more original and less homogenised, but the production values have been more variable.
Copyright is important in helping to provide a clear path to profit, but it's far less relevant now that we're talking about media distribution via widely available copying machines than it would have been when the ability for a random punter to eg print a knock-off copy of a book was fairly low. Focusing exclusively on "copyright protected distribution methods" and leaving other, faster and more convenient methods as being purely the domain of filthy pirates is foolish.
Re: Captain Underpants
Surely copyright is now even more important 'now that we're talking about media distribution via widely available copying machines', after all, the creators still need to be paid. Despite your assertion there is no technical reason why copyrighted works can't be shared across the internet in a fast and convenient manner (via p2p say) whilst still compensating the rights holder. There is nothing in copyright law holding this back either (although I admit figuring out what to do about orphaned works is a PITA). The only thing holding us back from this unicorn filled utopia are companies with existing large back catalogues of copyrighted content who are of the view that preventing such a future is in their best interest even though it is not.
Re: Captain Underpants
Hmm, I think I didn't express myself particularly well last time.
Copyright as a concept is still important, obviously, but the enforcement mechanisms that traditionally accompany it are predicated on the idea that infringement is labour- and time-intensive and therefore most likely to be committed in bulk by someone looking to profit from it (eg that US publisher who was printing unauthorised paperback copies of the LotR books in the sixties).
Now that we're talking about billions of people regularly using information-copying machines on a global network, infringement is frequently not labour- or time-intensive, so copyright holders need to adapt their strategy. It should be evident, at this point, that DRM is a mug's game - for almost all AV content, it just makes the legal offering look rubbish compared to the pirate offering (see all the DVDs with stupid anti-piracy warnings & trailers embedded in an unskippable format at the start of the content, or the stupid "Free digital copy included!" variants where you get an expiring DRM'd copy in some rubbish format like WMV). We've got as close to Steam as we're going to for video with the likes of Netflix, but as long as distribution rights continue to operate on the basis of technically-obsolete region definitions, the industry and its audience are at odds.
No no no no no...
"[...] bundle tokens you can spend on the music and movie services of your choice. You could top up anywhere at any time."
We already have this; it's called MONEY. Money is accepted world-wide for all manner of goods and services including entertainment. I give 99¢ to Apple and they give me a song. I give $1.99 to Amazon, they give me a TV show. Why in the world would you need to abstract currency any further than it already is? This obfuscates the true cost of the content being purchased, complicates the purchasing process by adding an intermediate step of obtaining the tokens, and provides absolutely **no benefit** to the consumer.
Conversely it provides a tremendous benefit to the content providers. Casinos make you use chips when you gamble (in part) because psychologically gamblers don't treat chips the same way they treat hard currency. They are more likely to make impulsive decisions with chips than they would with hard currency. Add to this the fact that many/most of the existing services that abstract money (eg: XBox Live Points) will only sell you blocks of tokens (usually multiples of five) and then rig the "prices" so you can't ever actually spend all of it. The remainder just sits there like an 80's arcade token; it cost you money but you'll never be able to use it. (http://pvponline.com/comic/2009/03/12/match-points)
Furthermore, tokenizing money allows the companies to play currency exchange rates to their benefit and your detriment. If 500 points is $5.00 in the US, it might be £5.00 in the UK. In that scenario Brits pay more for the same exact product merely due to the exchange rate. (This last bit, of course, has been going on for years with actual money; I presume abstraction would serve only to embolden the practice.)
I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where they go to Itchy and Scratchy Land and Homer buys "Itchy and Scratchy Fun Money" after being told it's "money that's made just for the park. It works just like regular money, but it's, er... 'fun' " Then none of the vendors inside accept I&S money and oh, there's no refunds. (http://www.snpp.com/episodes/2F01.html)
"There's really no open, interoperable standard for taking songs on a mobile phone and playing them wirelessly on any speaker [...]"
This also exists, though it isn't widely implemented. The Bluetooth A2DP profile lets me stream music from my iOS device to my car stereo and then take that same device with me and stream to my Bluetooth headphones. Add the appropriate chips to your stereo receiver and you have exactly what you describe. Bluetooth probably doesn't qualify as an "open" standard, but it exists now and it works cross-platform.
Re: No no no no no...
I think there are many more people buying telecommunications this way - e.g. you get 300 minutes, 1000 texts and 2GB internet all for £10/month. Same goes for season tickets on public transport, and paying a higher landline flat rate and getting "free" calls. Hardly anyone buys Internet connectivity on price/Mb these day, and when you do it's a ripoff (e.g. use of data on roaming abroad).
The advantage to the consumer is you know what it will cost. The advantage to the provider is regular and known income. That's also how a radio station pays for broadcast rights on music, so why should it be so wrong for an ISP to negotiate a similar kind of deal on behalf of customers with music rightsholders if both sides believe they benefit ?
USD-GBP exchange rate
"you get 300 minutes, 1000 texts and 2GB internet all for £10/month".
Interestingly, this is one area where the USD-GBP exchange rate works in the other direction - that bundle would cost you $30 (if you could get it - because there isn't any real competition between the GSM and CDMA incumbents in the US, that sort of bundle isn't a mainstream option).
Broadband/TV/Phone bundles are usually much more expensive in the US - while the headline price that is offered to new customers is typically ~$90, the actual price (after the 6 month introductory pricing, and after including the mandatory set-top box rental that isn't included in the advertised price, plus the federal and local "taxes" that are actually not mandated by federal or local givernment) is more likely to be ~$140-$200/month.
A couple of issues....
"Another inconvenience is playing music. There's really no open, interoperable standard for taking songs on a mobile phone and playing them wirelessly on any speaker – whether it's in a rented car, an office or a friend's house."
Ummm - Bluetooth/A2DP?
But the real issue is this - I will happily buy content, but I insist upon one thing: DON'T TRY TO SCREW ME. I have a multiplicity of devices - tablets, computers, (semi-)smart TVs, phones - all of which can play media. DO NOT try to lock media to only one of those devices. DO NOT prevent me from backing up the content. DO NOT require special software to access it. Now that I can buy MP3s from Amazon, with none of that silly lock-in, I do so. I don't do Ultraviolate (mis-spelling deliberate) because it won't work on all my devices - why not just rip the DVD for my own use? I also do not like media which requires a phone-home to use - unless the media vendor is willing to escrow unlocked versions and the funds to distribute them to all rightful owners in the event of them getting out of the business.
I think the problem is people want to reward the creative people who create the media, they just don't want to fund giant greedy organisations who want to make huge profits and give a small slice of it to the artist.
Kickstarter style funding is the future for films and music. Rather than film studios spending millions in advance the film makers should pitch the ideas to the consumer via sites like Kickstarter, secure funding and then provide something back to the pledgers.
So the future is interest free loans to creatives that require the creative to share no profit with the lenders? With kickstarter style systems the creative can also either A) have the customer pay for the product up front before production so that they have no chance to preview or B) have the customer donate some money up front to get the product made and then still charge them for the product once it's released.
As somebody who works in the creative industries I really want to live in you envisioned future. It won't be very nice for the rest of you though.
As a Producer, Programmer, Promoter
I had ASCAP and BMI, I also had contact with 3000 bands and labels. ISP's are not going to buy ASCAP / BMI licenses for their users any more than one user buying a UMG license for $8000 a year. The problem has been the over-reaction with laws. The laws chased me away after running a show for 6 years. Today I see articles of examples of exactly why I left on JAN 1, 2012.
1. Music site domain seized by ICE (that's for sites that aren't in the US. IF you are in the US, you are toast.)
2. The ability of people to point the finger at you, and you disappear.
3. Bloggers aren't journalists. Yeah right
4. Snooping, I just want to air, broadcast, and play music, but I don't need DHS watching me, looking for nanny state keywords, who know what happens next time I fly?!
5. The laws have become untenable, unidentifiable, you know what they say about ignorance of the law.
6. The LABELS couldn't tell me what the fuck the law was.
7. The SOPA/PIPA/ACTA whatever the fuck-a were done in secret, with no public input. And no one guy with 5 minutes who gets interrupted every 15 seconds isn't public input. IT's CONSPIRACY. Start signing TREATIES and I think it's TREASON. But I digress since I just got the hell out.
8. Social Websites - Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Google - read their spy docs on Cryptome. Why would I subject myself to that? For the records, I Had more users on MySpace than some small bands did. Twitter I dumped when they said they were going to make it part of the Library of Congress Archives, Facebook I never joined cause I saw the writing on the wall from DAY 1, and Google spys everything, so I dumped everything googls.
9. Copyright itself, trying to figure out which video, song can be played where. Especially when they are sitting on a time-line with no cover sheet.
Who the fuck wants to deal with this shit anymore. I just wanted to do art, promote music, create videos for bands, and let them get their message out to the world. I made a lot of friends, and a lot of videos. If you want to do this now, it's best to be with no assets, that way it's a dis-incentive to sue, since there is no money. Don't try to make a profit.
Amazon vs Coulton
I wanted to buy an album from Amazon.co.uk, because I liked a certain track, and was rather pleased to see that I could download it at a reasonable price
Then things went pear-shaped, I had to install a downloader (for some reason) but since I was on 64-bit linux they didn't have a compatible installer.
After a deal of faffing around I gave up and instead paid for and downloaded the actual track I was interested in.
Then I went onto eBay and bought the album at a lot less than Amazon were asking.
So Amazon lost some money they would have got from me, though I guess an ebayer got a little richer.
Vs Jonathon Coulton, whose websites' music section (http://www.jonathancoulton.com/store/downloads/) even has a bit 'Already Stole It?' since he knows it's going to happen anyway.
Coultons website allows me to pay and download the exact tracks I want, or the complete album should want that.
In my book the independant artist who knows his audience stands a better chance of making the internet work for them, by spreading their music to a wider audience and getting out of people what they are willing to pay.
Re: Amazon vs Coulton
>> Then things went pear-shaped, I had to install a downloader (for some reason) but since I was on 64-bit linux they didn't have a compatible installer.
It's not good, even on Windows. I went to buy a couple of tracks off an album I've owned since about 1970. I thought it would be easier than transfering from vinyl and worth the small cost. Having selected the tracks and gone through the WTF of installing software to download them, the downloader then decided to download, and charge me for, the entire album. I then had to search my hard drive for the mp3s and move them, because it puts them somewhere that's presumably convenient to Amazon, not the user.
I have yet to find a legal download service that will just give me link I can download from straight out of the browser.
God bless you. finally someone had the balls to speak the truth. thats a good one, make the black market white.
Make it simple to use, on any device I wish, and charge me a reasonable fee, OK? Good now? Off you go, then.
This war is lost
The pirates won a decade ago.
And many others, all of them much, much, more flexible than the "legitimate" counterparts.
I want control over my files and devices, that's why Google doesn't build a rocket to serve the media companies.
They are building rockets just to get to your back garden, where the goodies have been for agood ~10 years.
A. Pay for film.
B. Download film.
C. Play film on my HTPC running XBMC.
It's so simple. Yet it is still impossible to this day. Piracy it is then.
The music industry ignores supply and demand and its effects on value
Th eproblem is that the old way of distributing music meant they could control the supply that consumers percieved (the top 10) this meant the demand for these was artificially high and the value of the products was also high, and artificially structured (all CD/Vinyl cost a similar amount whether they were super popular or less so). This has changed, the top 10 is now the top 100, people can now get individual songs and not albums with 60% filler so their perception of the value of the product has reduced but the Music industry can't handle that ("Spotify is both too expensive[for the users] and too cheap [for the labels] at the same time"). Until percieved value and sale value align piracy will remain a major problem and legal retailers will suffer.
The only piece of music i have bought in the last 7 years (I don't listen much and when i do commercial radio mostly covers it plus stuff left over from when i was a teenager) Was Christopher tin's calling all dawns. Now this was not only bought due to the fantastic music but the fact that it was affordable $9.99 so something like £7 but i could get it with out DRM it is now on itunes on my desktop and my wife's ipod (used in the bedroom so i can listen there) , my phone and a usb stick into the tv to be played back on the HiFi (yes i don't have a clever digital hifi as i said music is not important to me).
Would i have been able to do all of this if it was an itunes purchase? and more importantly what is the reason that i should buy the same product 4 times to make use of it in the environments i would want to.
I do have a number of Torrented tv series however but even with 2 VM TiVo's (dont get me started on how big a failure they, are 150 episodes of criminal minds duplicats and previously watched episodes constantly being recorded due to limited control how hard is a viewd flag against an episode list on a computer..) I would be unable to watch them.
Stargate SG1 (I was out of the country when it was released) i recorded a few shows and have attempted to catch it so many times on tv but real life always gets in the way of keeping on top of it I do pay a suitably large amount for tv subscriptions (no idea how that goes to production companies or even if it is enough compensation but it is what the market is offering) the others are US / Japanese shows that are not yet in the UK if they ever will be for no reason that I can identify or are not available to me through the delivery medium I have available cable / satalite exclusives.
As has been said before access to our choice of media on the medium we want at the speed and times we want them is possible (torrents etc.), so why not legitimately with out having to pay unreasonable costs (sorry but £5 for a a single series episode to me is unreasonable comparing it against channel subscriptions).
"As has been said before access to our choice of media on the medium we want at the speed and times we want them is possible (torrents etc.), so why not legitimately with out having to pay unreasonable costs (sorry but £5 for a a single series episode to me is unreasonable comparing it against channel subscriptions)."
This is PRECISELY the problem. The music industry wants to force us to double-dip, triple-dip, or whatever. As they say in economics, there's no business like REPEAT business: rentals and leases, over sales, viewing fees, etc. This isn't just with media but with real-world products, too: the operative term is "planned obsolescence". Sure, you can sell a vacuum cleaner that lasts for 100 years, but once everyone buys your vacuum, what do you do in the meantime, hmm? Also in healthcare; you'll never see a cure come out of a purely private pharmaceutical firm, for the same reasons.