Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Copyright Holders Need to Wake Up

Today, most traditional content creators count on copyright as the legal basis for collecting royalties on their work. Those rights are violated when someone makes an unauthorized copy of the protected work.

But what is a "copy?"

There are legal definitions for things like vinyl records and cover bands.
Those laws and and definitions are being applied to data bits and mashups with very messy results.

But it's much more complicated than the rights holders can possibly imagine.

As we move to real "cloud storage" the concept of a "copy" of file just doesn't apply. An actual file image may not exist on any machine. Dozens or hundreds of copies of every portion of that file will exist across multiple devices.

Already, most of my files are replicated at least four times.

  1. The "original" on my laptop or tower.
  2. My "work" folder is cloned across my workstations.
  3. The on-site backup
  4. The off-site backup
  5. In the case of version-controlled files, there are hundreds of bits of file copied around.

Some of those files are works I did not create.
Harry Fox would like me to pay for every one of those "copies" of music files.

Hard drives fail.
Backups are mandatory.
And, despite the claims by some of the entertainment industry organizations, those copies are well within the Fair Use doctrine of the U.S. copyright law.

(Here's an interesting thought: technically a RAID level 5 could be considered to be making unauthorized copies of rights-managed material. Just saying...)

Now I would be willing to pay Harry Fox for every copy of every digital music file I make IF they would pay me a refund for every copy I destroy or lose.
No? Only seems fair.
How about they guarantee the availability of a free replacement for any file I should destroy or lose?

That's technically a possibility, but it takes us back to "cloud" situation where a file is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And there's no such thing as a copy. And there's no business in collecting royalties on copies when there are no copies.

And you thought the music industry freaked out over file sharing.

Don't get me started on how stupid Patents are now that the hive mind is up and running.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comment here.