Cory Doctorow talks at the Web 2.0 Expo

8 11 2007


I am attending the talk by Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing fame among other things) now, probably one of the best talks here at the conference and of course Cory is a hero🙂

So here are my notes, not sure I got everything right as it’s hard to write and listen to it as he’s quite of fast but feel free to correct me🙂

The main problem here is that Europe and the US are playing ping-pong when it comes to copyright directives. If one continent has a longer copyright than the other than it’s extended even a bit more and then again by the other party and so on. All in the name of harmonization. This is not a good thing though.

The state of the copyright world in the US

  • two technologies might be identical but one illegal just because they might advertise it as being able to infringe copyright (thought crime)
  • VCR wouldn’t have been possible as Sony once advertised it as not only time-shifting application but also a means for creating your video library.
  • now we have the DMCA
  • the DMCA also means that anybody simply can take off something the internet without showing prove. no court involved.
  • example: Viacom just searched for keywords which might cover their copyrighted works on Youtube and sent the results to Youtube to take it down. But the search was ambigious and legal stuff was found to but taken down.
  • Viacom also says that privacy should be illegal as it might infringe copyright. But: you cannot share certain pictures anymore as you may not want to have this stuff publically available. Think of your child in the bathtube.
  • there are over 20.000 cases in the US where companies sue music fans. Will this bring them back to the music store?
  • statistics show: prolific downloaders are also prolific purchasers. So they sue the wrong people
  • DMCA was designer in 1995 and was shown to Al Gore who dismissed it at first. Now Europe thinks of even worse things.

What’s happening in Europe?

  • IPRED2 (IP Rights Enforcement Directive 2): Lot’s of scary information behind this link.
  • example pirate bay: A swedish member of parliament asked the police illegally to raid the ISP hosting it. Result: Takedown of 200 more servers not belonging to the PB. The Pirate Bay was not really affected by this though. Businesses had lots of problems due that. If you don’t have backups your business might be sort of dead.
  • Thus punishes more innocent people than the bad guys
  • DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting Project) wants to create a standard for digital broadcasting. Part of this is CPCM
  • CPCM is a far-reaching system of use-restrictions on digital television programming which was suddenly worked on by the DVB group. Every device  being able to receive and play digital video will probably need to implement it.
  • CPCM stands for Content Protection Copy Management and is Europe’s broadcast flag but goes much further. As a result US will probably again wants to “harmonize” and make it even worse.
  • So provisions for private audience, classroom showings are not in there. They can simply switch off the broadcast flag and you are not allowed to break it under euopean laws. You cannot show this video although you actually might be legally allowed to do so. Rumour say that you can call a toll free number to override this but how good will this work?!?
  • A video can be flagged that it can only be used by one household. The problem is the definition of “what is a household”. “If you have a boat and a house and another house and a minivan, then this can be treated as one household”. Now imaging: people living in different countries, daughter in a different country etc. They say, it’s a corner case they did not engineer for it.
  • Another example: You and your wife are divorced and your daughter spends half the time at your place and half the time at her mothers’s. Is this a household? Will the 8 year old daughter call the toll free line so she can watch TV?
  • The restrictions of CPCM: A pause button cannot pause a video for more than 2 hours because of some very strange reasons in which cases a show might be able to be seen for 48 hours although it’s only allowed to being watched for 24 hours.
  • Another problem: You are not able to implement this as open source because it could be hacked that way.
  • Interoperability becomes a matter of permission. Since now it is not the matter of the producer to decide what you are allowed to do with something after you bought it. E.g. you can use any charger with your nokia phone.
  • You can only interoperate with that stuff if you make a contract with them. Breaking it is illegal.
  • Now this will get enacted with the new digitial television provisions and then it might get back to the US where maybe the next step is added.

Hope can we solve this and make it better?

  • Get involved with the EFF! They do brilliant things.
  • You can support groups in your own country like the CCC in Germany.
  • Creative Commons and iCommons organizations are all over. They take stance against these things
  • Participate in the hearings. Right now only the rights holders are there. We need more geeks there.
  • For the majority of music artists giving them more years of copyright makes no difference.
  • Good example in Britain: Resistance stopped prolonging the copyright.

All in all a very scary talk and I wish more people had listened to it. Room wasn’t really packed.

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One response

9 11 2007
prokofy

Mein Gott, does any journalist ever research these outrageous and extremist claims that Doctorow makes?! I mean, this is really over-the-top copy-leftism.

I’d love to see that long list *cough* of legal items on YouTube with Viacom’s search words.

Whose statistics show that prolific downloaders are also prolific purchases? Where? What demographics? What is their purchasing power? What do they spend?

I have to laugh at how designers in SL are struggling to get DMCA better enforced and used to prevent widespread outright theft, and Doctorow is busy dismantling it.

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