Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Copyright reform

Some very simple comments on this.

1. Yes, artists need some way to get paid for their work.

2. Current copyright law is broken in far too many ways and was written before the Internet and computers.

One of the things I would like is the idea that I can buy a copy of something, a book, or film, or computer programme, or picture, or TV show or something, and I own a "copy" of it. I "own" a right to view/access it at any time in any way I like.

That, like owning a real book or VHS tape or DVD, means I can watch/view it, and the choice of device on which I do so should not be a problem.

Indeed, like a book, I can lend it to friends and family - maybe some "family sharing" system as iTunes has.

I am pleased to say that some systems are close to this, but within each system. I have paid for loads of movies and TV shows on iTunes, and some on Sky TV. I have paid for books on two types of e-reader things including Kindle.

But ideally I should only have to pay once, and I "own" a copy. The platform should not matter. I can understand if there is some nominal fee for spreading what I own to a new platform - cheaper if I do it in bulk for all I have. But ideally once I own a copy of NCIS Series 1 Episode 1 in HD, I should damn well *own* it!

We need copyright law that allows the various platform operators like Sky, and iTunes, and Amazon, and whatever (XBOX?) to be able to recognise that somehow I own a copy of something and therefore be legally allowed to stream it or download and play it to me on any device. These operators make money selling me new content and by ongoing subscription or such.

Basically, the underlying notion of "copying" being the right that is protected is bullshit and nonsense. It was created in a time when copying was a "hard" thing to do. Now we live in a world where copying is transient and costless in all practical terms. So we need the idea of a person owning a logical "copy" of a work and once they do so being able to access and view that as they wish with the underlying "copy" process being totally irrelevant.

15 comments:

  1. Agreed. Did you know that the first "copyright" law did not even mention copying?

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    1. Indeed.

      And it was also designed to wrestle power away from the "copyright industry" at the time — the printers and booksellers — and put it back in the hands of authors, who were getting a rough deal.

      And protection was limited to a very short period of time.

      For when you are bored: https://neilzone.co.uk/seven_lectures_on_the_law_and_history_of_copyright_in_books.pdf

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    2. I agree time limited is important and like 10 years not life+X years crap...

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    3. How much longer does that give you before you release the original Firebrick code then? :)

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    4. It does not force release of secret code, simply allows copy if it was released....

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    5. True enough, although I do struggle with that argument when one is taking about software which had been published in binary form - at that point, we're just arguing over formats. If it follows that, having bought a particular encoding of a film on DVD, I should be entitled to watch it again without paying on another device, I should have thought that is much the same as saying that, having bought a piece of software on one bit of hardware, I should be entitled to run it on another bit of hardware without paying again.

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    6. At present, with iTunes s/w like Final Cut Pro (expensive video editing) I can indeed use it on my home machine or my work machine having paid only once. I don't really see that it is much different.

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    7. I'm sure if I bought two firebricks RevK wouldn't mind me running the same code on both :p

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  2. In that case, because the copyright owner has expressly permitted that. What you appear to be advocating in terms of your "buy once, access anywhere" approach is that it would be a feature of the law, rather than something which a rights holder can offer if they so choose (and which they could do today, if they wanted).

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    1. Well, OK, in the case of a book or a film, I can watch a DVD on any DVD player now, and my friends and family can watch with me, and I can lend it to anyone. With s/w I would definitely want to be able to continue using the same s/w when I upgrade the machine. In the case of s/w it may make sense that only one person can be running the s/w at a time perhaps as only one "copy" has been purchased. Though, back in the day of s/w on a cassette on a BBC micro, one could load the s/w on one machine and then another and run both instances at once. For the most part I am simply advocating that in the digital age in which we live we have the same rights we used to have when buying a book, when copyright was dreamt up, able to read anywhere, lend, buy, sell, etc. s/w is perhaps a more complex matter.

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    2. Also, in this more connected era, the s/w could be a non issue. E.g. the s/w for World of Warcraft is free to download - the copying of the s/w itself is not an issue (though editing it may be - that is a different discussion). They make their money from the subscription. A lot of s/w is heading that way - either there is a fee for using a s/w based service, or the s/w comes in some h/w that is sold... Both work for the producer as means to make money fairly.

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    3. We (in the broad sense) have made software more complicated, largely by trying to fit it within a framework which really doesn't make sense. I think we're agreed on that bit :)

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  3. I second that man.

    "Basically, the underlying notion of "copying" being the right that is protected is bullshit and nonsense."



    Note I said second not section ;-)

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  4. Under discussion at the moment:

    http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/dae/document.cfm?action=display&doc_id=12524

    "Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on ensuring the cross-border portability of online content services in the internal market"

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