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Berkman Center Releases Digital Media Policy Paper 146

Posted by michael
from the falling-on-deaf-ears dept.
Copyfighter writes "Last year marked another messy chapter in the music and movie industries' transitions online. Legitimate offerings multiplied while the RIAA and MPAA continued their lawsuits against P2P systems and users, even as P2P traffic reached new heights. How -- if at all -- should policymakers attempt to resolve emerging digital media conflicts? The Berkman Center's Digital Media Project today released a new research study examining options for government action and how it could affect four different business models for the distribution of digital media. The authors caution that government intervention is currently premature because it is unlikely to strike an appropriate balance between the many competing interests at stake."
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Berkman Center Releases Digital Media Policy Paper

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  • The government (Score:3, Insightful)

    by numbski (515011) * <numbski AT hksilver DOT net> on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:04PM (#11289323) Homepage Journal
    should, and should have from the beginning but(ted) out.

    The problem is that the DMCA screwed things up from the word go. Now the only way to fix things up is to keep bandaging them more and more...

    or repeal the DMCA. Use copyright law as it was intended.

    Less is more in this case. The more the government butts out, the more quickly a balance will be struck. :\
    • Re:The government (Score:3, Informative)

      by Feynman (170746)
      The problem is that the DMCA screwed things up from the word go . . . Use copyright law as it was intended.

      In the case of music, the DCMA hasn't "screwed things up." The intent of copyright law has always been to prevent activity such as the file sharing that many on this forum seem to see as some kind of inalienable right.

      • Re:The government (Score:4, Insightful)

        by numbski (515011) * <numbski AT hksilver DOT net> on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:19PM (#11289505) Homepage Journal
        There is a sad level of redundancy that wasn't needed in the DMCA.

        Copyright law as it was covered the copying of music just fine. What it did was give content providers a rather unfair whip to threaten people without due process. THAT'S why the DMCA is evil. It's not the feeling that I have an inalienable right to "arr matey's shiver me timbers" when it comes to music (or any media for that matter), it's that I have a right to due process, and I have pretty clear rights when it comes to copyright law.

        The DMCA is bad on both counts.
      • Re:The government (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rpdillon (715137)
        Incorrect.

        The primary goal of copyright law is to incentivize artists to release their work for the public good.

        Any extent to which this translates into making artists rich is purely a secondary effect of the law.

        And nowhere does copyright law say its intent is to prevent illegal distribution - on the contrary, it's goal is to *encourage* distribution. The idea that copyright is primarily an inhibitor is something that has been pounded into the public conscious by our friends at the RIAA and MPAA.

      • Not to be nitpicky, but I think you mean file sharing OF UNAUTHORIZED WORKS.

        Contrary to what the xxAA's are telling you, file sharing in and of itself is NOT illegal. And yes, it *IS* a right to share files.

        It's not a right to share unauthorized files. The distinction is subtle but very very relevant.
      • the DCMA hasn't "screwed things up." The intent of copyright law has always been to prevent activity such as the file sharing

        You're high on crack if you think the original intent of copyright law was that people should be imprisoned for doing math, or for publishing mathematical equations. Both of which the DMCA criminalizes. And it criminalizes it even in the case of absolutely non-infringing innocent people.

        Actual commercial "pirates" simply do a raw copy of a DVD, encryption and all. They can press an
        • In fact the current "problem" in copyright is that it simply falls apart when you attempt to extend it to were it was never intended to go, where it was never intended apply and never expected to function, the non-commercial activities of millions of individuals.

          In fact, you could go even further and say that the current administration is attempting to bring scarcity back to a non-scarce world.

          With bits, digital works can be copied exactly, for "nothing", and the original owner still retains the or

    • When the RIAA gives all the money back that they extorted (oh Hell, let's make it double all the money back for 'pain and suffering') from ordinary people, then we will begin to consider if and where they will fit in to the new digital world order.
      Until then we will continue to copy and distribute OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE freely to whoever asks for it.
      They stole the public domain by bribing legislators to pass laws indefinitely extending the old idea of copyright. By doing this, they have shown them
    • Copyright law is as it was intended. It restricts the average person's access to high tech. It restricts a person's right to speak freely(See Scientology). It restricts access to wide distribution. It's very clear that the "Ancillary Products and Services" model is the only viable, durable, and fair business model, but the unpredictability mentioned in the paper may keep it from becoming the standard. It's unfortunate that people may go to jail for infringement just for the convenience of businesses to be a
    • (the govt) should, and should have from the beginning but(ted) out.

      You're right! They should have butted out over 200 years ago and never imposed copy restrictions to begin with. Copyrights have nothing to do with incentive, or even worse "property rights". When you think about it, they don't even help many people except say Madonna. They are simply a government imposed regulation on how people can copy and share information. 200 years ago when the term was only 14 years and every information work w

    • Isn't one of the "problems" with the DMCA that it in fact adds a new right to the copyright holder? The right of access!! Access has never been an exclusive right to the copyright holder that one would need permission to do. But since the circumvention of protection for access is not allowed, it basically gives the copyright holder this new right.

      If it only had been circumvention of protections that deal with the copyright holders right only, it would not have been as bad. Looking at much of the DRM and sy
  • Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:05PM (#11289333) Journal
    Too much... stop it... this is starting to get excessive... Stop doing studies and wasting energy on this...

    The simple solution is to let the people decide what they want... no amount of government intervention will stop the inevitable... It might slow it down for a few years, or even decades... but eventually the people will revolt in such huge numbers the government can't do anything about it...

    Isn't our business model 'The strong survive, the weak parish?'
    • The simple solution is to let the people decide what they want....no amount of government intervention will stop the inevitable... It might slow it down for a few years, or even decades... but eventually the people will revolt in such huge numbers the government can't do anything about it...

      I want to walk into a bank and walk out with a million dollars of someone else's money. I want to be able to walk into a grocery store, fill up my cart, and leave without paying. I want the house three doors up from
      • I want to walk into a bank and walk out with a million dollars of someone else's money. I want to be able to walk into a grocery store, fill up my cart, and leave without paying. I want the house three doors up from mine. I also want their car.

        As the anti-copyright people here have pointed out again and again, every single one of those involves taking something from someone else, who then must do without or obtain a new material good to replace it, as opposed to copying a song, which takes it from nobody
        • That's still such a weak arguement. It's true you didn't steal anything by removing it from someone's person. However, the person who bought it never removed it from the artist's person either. What you stole was the revenue the artist expected from the additional copy of their work that's now in your hands.
        • As the anti-copyright people here have pointed out again and again, every single one of those involves taking something from someone else, who then must do without or obtain a new material good to replace it, as opposed to copying a song, which takes it from nobody unless you steal the master then beat the lyric writer, singer, and musicians dead.

          Hey! I really like that logic. It means that it is ok for your employer to stop paying you because, since you don't have the money yet, you aren't "losing" anyt
          • It means that it is ok for your employer to stop paying you because, since you don't have the money yet, you aren't "losing" anything.

            Thats brilliant, Sherlock. You must have rubbed together both of your last two neurons to work that out.

            If my employer quits paying me, I'm not "losing" any money. Guess what, if an employer stops paying me, its not called "theft" its called either
            1) "You're fired/laid off"
            2) "Breach of Contract" (if I was a contract worker with a specified rate) or
            3) "Breach of minimum
            • Thats brilliant, Sherlock. You must have rubbed together both of your last two neurons to work that out.

              If my employer quits paying me, I'm not "losing" any money. Guess what, if an employer stops paying me, its not called "theft" its called either
              1) "You're fired/laid off"
              2) "Breach of Contract" (if I was a contract worker with a specified rate) or
              3) "Breach of minimum wage laws". (Optionally, add 4) Slavery, which is also illegal in our country)

              Try harder next time. You can at least state the tru
      • Any comparison between physical property and intellectual property will fail. [intrepidsoftware.com]
    • >The simple solution is to let the people decide what they want...

      This is the simple solution.

      >but eventually the people will revolt in such huge numbers the government can't do anything about it...

      Um.. no? If everyone broke the speed limit, you can be the government would gladly do something about it, in tickets and fines. You want to have something? Fine, the government will just fine/tax/make it so difficult that it wouldn't be worth it.

      >Isn't our business model 'The strong survive, the w
    • The simple solution is to let the people decide what they want...

      The 'people' have decided. They want the entire catalog, online, in straight mp3 (or other unencumbered format), for free.

      Now...tell me how that would actually work.

      Do you go to work every day and give your employer the fruits of your labor for free? I know I don't.

      • Do you go to work every day and give your employer the fruits of your labor for free? I know I don't.

        Do you see music as labor, and there's no way music can't be labor?

  • How? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:06PM (#11289351) Homepage Journal
    How -- if at all -- should policymakers attempt to resolve emerging digital media conflicts?

    Perhaps the policy makers at the RIAA should realize people are tired of bending over for them. People are sick of spending $18 on a CD with only a single new track and a bunch of old-favorites-remixed-so-they-are-like-new tracks. Actually, I think people are sick of paying $18 for a CD period.

    Perhaps a little out of date, but Maddox still makes a good point [xmission.com].
    • Re:How? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Feynman (170746)
      People are sick of spending $18 on a CD

      Then don't.

      This is how our economy is supposed to work. If you think it's overpriced, don't buy it. If you buy it, you're sending a signal to the retailer and the record label that the CD is worth $18.

      • Re:How? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nmb3000 (741169)
        Then don't.

        Traditionally I don't. I'll buy perhaps a single CD a year, if that.

        The issue is however that while like me many people have made the decision to boycott CDs to some extent, many of those same people still want access to new music. This means they download it - either legally or illegally - and the music industry has to understand that suing people is never going to fix the problem. When you have a product that can be easily reproduced and transmitted electronically then when people start boyc
        • So protecting their copyrights is bad.

          Even if they offered them up for legitimate download, people still would violate their copyrights, as we can see today.

          Even if they increased the quality 100x, people would still violate their copyrights.

          This is because some people feel justified in not paying for anything they can download, and it's pathetic.
          • Even if they increased the quality 100x, people would still violate their copyrights.

            Copyright is a system entirely supported by rule of law and the will of the people. If people no longer find value in supporting copyright, perhaps people aren't the problem.
        • Want to oppose the industry then don't buy their product, but that doesn't mean you can't still have it!

          Ahh...slashdot morals at their finest.

    • on a CD with only a single new track and a bunch of old-favorites-remixed-so-they-are-like-new tracks.

      So *THAT'S* how Tupac Shakur is able to keep releasing CD's from beyond the grave.

      • So *THAT'S* how Tupac Shakur is able to keep releasing CD's from beyond the grave. Ever seen a photo of Tupac and L. Ron Hubbard together? No? Hmmm, what does that tell you?
    • So what's wrong with iTunes? You don't pay $18 for a single song you want, you pay $.99
    • Actually, I think people are sick of paying $18 for a CD period.

      And the record companies are tired of people getting them for nothing.
      There's a middle point. We just haven't found it yet.

    • People are sick of spending $18 on a CD with only a single new track and a bunch of old-favorites-remixed-so-they-are-like-new tracks

      Then they should stop electing to buy brand-new copies from storefront retailers.

      Actually, I think people are sick of paying $18 for a CD period.

      See above. How much of the blame for that $18 pricetag belongs with the RIAA, how much with the labels, and how much with the storefronts? I bought several original, legit CD's last night for 75 cents each.

      Also, it's inter

  • Somethings wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spac3manspiff (839454) <spac3manspiff@gmail.com> on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:07PM (#11289362) Journal
    Approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 CD copies must be sold before these costs are covered

    No wonder 'artists' like britney spears whore theirselves out so much.
    • No wonder 'artists' like britney spears whore theirselves out so much.

      While that might help the revenue stream, such would mostly be limited to certain jurisdictions in Nevada [wikipedia.org].

    • The thing is, this price-point is to a real extent set by the record companies themselves.

      It isn't in their collective interets to use new technologies to reduce costs (as often happens in other sectors) as this lowers the barriers for others to enter the marketplace.
      • It isn't in their collective interets to use new technologies to reduce costs (as often happens in other sectors) as this lowers the barriers for others to enter the marketplace.

        Actually, it's in their interest to reduce their costs if they can keep prices the same.

        Can the record industry be considered an oligopoly? I'm not sure, but it seems likely.

    • Approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 CD copies must be sold before these costs are covered

      Isn't *anybody* asking why it "has" to cost $5-10 million dollars to record a pop record?

      An artist that's rehearsed their material and knows what they're doing should be able to knock off an album's worth of material in two days; even if they're rough about what they're doing, we'll assume they're in the studio for two weeks. Even if you're recording lavishly, does it really need to cost $250K per day?

      The problem w
  • The poster summarizes that "government intervention is currently premature because it is unlikely to strike an appropriate balance between the many competing interests at stake."

    And this has historically stopped the government on exactly which occasions?

    (Not that I disagree. Sure, the government should wait. But I don't think they're gonna.)

  • Why not let them upload movies to your computer instead of renting a dvd in person? Have a program make sure there are no copies and will delete the downloaded material after check out time has expired.

    This could really help out BOTH sides. The libraries would need to upgrade their collection .
  • by BillFarber (641417) on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:12PM (#11289429)
    We, as a society, can't even agree on what "an appropriate balance" would be.

    Young technophiles (slashdotters) want free exchange. Content execs want everything locked down. I think the general public justs wants content at a reasonable price that they can use in multiple areas of their lives. It's gonna be tough to pass any balanced legislation until we have balanced discussions.

    • I think the key to this is price. The success of P2P music swapping is, in my opinion, in large part due to the outrageous amount of money that the entertainment industry charges for its products. Up here, I can't get a decent CD for under $18-20, and sometimes more.

      Piracy is bad, and I don't think there's any way to qualify that, but ripping off the consumer is bad too. Worse for RIAA is that the record industry has spent years screwing artists, so this sudden promotion to sainthood is particularly nox
      • ripping off the consumer is bad too

        I don't really think you can rip off a consumer of something that is completely discretional. I have no interest in defending the music or movie industry, but it's not like gouging people for food. If the CD is not worth $18, don't buy it.

        • And I rarely do buy CDs any more (of course, this also has to do with the fact that most of the music released nowadays is, to my ears, utter crap). Most of the music released nowadays I wouldn't take for free (though they could try paying me!)

          My only worry now is that all my old audio tapes (of which I have many) are beginning to die, and I have basically been told that if I download a copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band off a P2P site for free, even though I have in my hands an actual cassette
          • Am I really a thief if I bought Sgt. Pepper 18 years ago and now decide to download the same songs as MP3s?

            That's a really good and important question. I agree with you. I also have a lot of old tapes and LPs and I downloaded MP3 versions of them because I felt it was a morally (if not legally) justifiable thing to do.

            On the other hand, when we bought those forms of the music, we knew they had a limited lifespan. That's one reason why people made tapes of their albums and only listened to the tapes. Pa

            • > On the other hand, when we bought those forms of the music, we knew they had a limited lifespan.
              > That's one reason why people made tapes of their albums and only listened to the tapes. Part of the
              > reason content companies charge more for CDs and DVDs is the longer useful lifespan.

              That may have been the case even a decade ago, but I don't buy it any more. Producing DVDs and CDs is pretty damn cheap, though I suspect packaging adds quite a bit to the cost.

              The fact remains that I'm supposed to
    • I think the general public justs wants content at a reasonable price that they can use in multiple areas of their lives.

      A reasonable price for making a copy of a publicly available work is zero. The general public is not going to fight and die for a right to pay. The only people who really want the information to be "reasonably priced", and in our case it actually means "commercially distributed with copying restrictions", are content holders. Everyone else is tired of paying for the distribution.

      There

      • There is one thing that costs money: organising the content.

        One problem is that a large part of "organising the content" consists of fixed costs that remain the same whether a site distributes one copy or a million. Who pays for the equipment that the recording artist uses? Who pays for checking to make sure that the underlying song doesn't infringe the copyright in any other existing song?

        • Starting from the end of your comment, what copyright? I described a business model that would survive with copyright law striken down. Of course it cannot work today for commercial art, because it presupposes that an organiser has zero overhead from dealing with the intellectual property rights - more or less like Google or Slashdot today.

          As for the equipment, let me surprise you: if there is demand for art (and there is such demand, regardless of the existence of the copyright law), people will pay mone

      • You just have one small problem. Their is no incentive for the content holder to make the content public. The content holder must be able to make a living. The conent holder should be the artist who created the work. But their is nothing in you business model for the artist to survive on.
  • Who does P2P hurt? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by el Davo (847338)
    I would say that P2P only hurts labels. I don't think it hurts the musicians at all since they only get a small fraction of the album sales. The musicians have always just looked at album sales as advertising. Most of the money made is from concerts and shows. I heard David Bowie talk about this awhile ago. I know he's one of the richest but the future is a world of electronic music and the sharing of it. You can't fight it--if you do, your fans will hate you. Just ask Metallica :)
  • by jimbro2k (800351) on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:18PM (#11289492)
    The reason why this discussion is irrelevant is that congress will do what their constituents want.
    Realities don't matter. They never have.

    The only remaining question is who congress' constituents are: Is it those pesky damn voters, or is it the ones who made the biggest campaign contributions?

    If you were in congress and wanted to remain there (like they all do), to whom would you pledge your allegiance?
    • > If you were in congress and wanted to remain there (like they all do), to whom would you pledge your allegiance?

      That's an obvious one, you would serve the contributors! There is a direct relation between how much you spend on a campaign and how many votes you get.

      In the past 20 years or so I haven't observed a similar relationship between the issues a candidate believes in and his votes, or anything else.

      It's all money.

      Democracy is broken.
  • the govn't should be looking into why a cd cost the same as a dvd. you'd think it'd be cheaper to produce a bunch of audio tracks than it would a movie (ya i realize that movies get box office sales but artist get show sales too) The whole distribution model for music has to change and these guys realize they might lose their market hold and are fighting to keep it. The problems right now is even if someone comes up with a better solution current artists can't hop on. most are lockd into contracts forbiddi
  • All the problems that exist stem from P2P networks have central servers. Most of the lawsuits are against those who operate the central servers. If these central servers weren't needed it'd be almost impossible for users to be singled out. Maybe I'm wrong, but are any of the P2P networks truely P2P?
  • You cant legislate peoples morals. The reason most people don't go around killing each other isn't because its illegal but because they don't want to. It might sound stupid but just let people use P2P and see what happens, meanwhile make products better - e.g. put more things like music videos and multi-format tracks on CDs, make dual DVD-CDs that play in old CD-players but include much more on the DVD part. It costs nothing to just stick the existing music videos in decent quality in the disk. Most people
  • by e6003 (552415) on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:58PM (#11289892) Homepage
    A nice paper. It makes out from the start that "all" that is threatened are current business models - not the end of the world, as the pigopolists would have us believe. A nice quote: "The new technologies vitiating those practical barriers... are demonstrating just how empty those legal rights may be and how poorly matched they may be with cultural norms and practice. Consumers are exploiting the exciting potential for greater interactivity and involvement with content, and are thus finding themselves in conflict with many of those who make content possible." I haven't read the paper too deeply yet but I do take issue with the "make content possible" bit - the ones who make content possible are generally the ARTISTS, not the middlemen whose business model is being circumvented by P2P. Plenty of artists support P2P distribution.

    Also the paper's title touches on something that is rarely found in the mainstream media: control. There's some balance: "evidence that file sharing has caused losses to the music industry is controversial and film industry revenue is currently on the rise, online infringements reasonably can be expected to reduce revenues in the long run." Some core truths are expressed in an iron fist/velvet glove manner: "Many believe that DRM is an illusory barrier to piracy. Even if DRM were able to preclude most people from distributing a given work, even one unencrypted copy can quickly propagate through a P2P system. No DRM is uncrackable, and, even without circumventing, files can be re-encoded into an unencrypted format once burned to CD or as they are outputted in analog form."

    This looks like a very interesting paper and I shall enjoy reading it.

  • Do you know why John Carmack never put protection
    in Doom, Doom2, etc...? It's because he knew it
    was futile, being a former hacker himself.
    Also, and this is my guess, he knew that giving
    Doom no protection or serial number would ensure
    that everyone everywhere would tryout the game
    with it completely unprotected. Then people
    would really be talking about it. "Hey dude
    you've gotta check out this game, is freakin'
    awesome, here just copy my disks"!

    It's the shareware concept, just taken further to
    a new and unspoken
  • From the .pdf at the linked article:

    Introduction ...

    The digital era threatens current <b>revenue models</b> by changing the environment in which copyright operates. To prevent unauthorized copying of their works, copyright holders have traditionally relied on practical barriers as well as their legal exclusive rights to control reporduction and distribution. The new technologies vitiating those practical barriers--peer-to-peer (P2P) services, digitial compression technologies, and others--are

    • At the risk of feeding the trolls:

      I quit reading the .pdf after that. There's no Constitutional right to protect a revenue stream

      Too bad you stopped reading. It shows just how closed minds have become on this particular issue that when a simple statement of fact is made; it is interpreted as "loaded".

      It's actually a pretty good article, which is not limited to legal analysis. It shows they probably tapped some of the knowledge in their moderately good business school there at Harvard (yes, that's fa

      • After being labelled a "troll" I took the time out to read the remainder of the .pdf. I guess that makes you a troll because you used an insult to initiate an action.

        They discuss CBL and ancillary products and services. The paper is a collection of ideas to preserve a lucrative revenue stream. I see no reason why that lucrative revenue stream should be preserved. Remove the stops, remove the controls, remove the supports, and let the industry sink-or-swim the way the rest of us do.
        • I see no reason why that lucrative revenue stream should be preserved.

          Ensuring that a new legal atmosphere would preserve incumbent businesses' revenue gives the incumbents less of an incentive to engage in dangerous rent seeking [wikipedia.org] on Capitol Hill.

          • Do economists actually use this term? I like it but it sounds like it'd be making the pyramid scheme of the whole government system a little too obvious for their (usual) tastes.

            That's the first Wikipedia entry I've ever read that I actually enjoyed--ie. it wasn't loaded with subjective opinions. Thanks.
  • Unfortunately, I don't think it is really possible to legislate a social change. The lack of foresight on the part of the RIAA/MPAA is what created this mess in the first place. Instead of thinking ahead, they waited for companies like Apple to provide a product that consumers desired years before hand.

    If they had developed their business model to include the 'MP3 revolution' when it first began I don't think that p2p would be as engrained in our society as it is and thus we probably wouldn't be having th
  • ...are those of the consumer. That's how capitalism works. The interests of the business, come last.
    • What makes you think consumers act rationally over the long term? Enough residential users of CD and DVD media prefer availability of a variety of works over freedom of speech that publishers find restrictive business models and rent-seeking profitable.

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