A giant juke box

A giant juke box

This (European) Commission and Parliament must be the worst ever. Previous Parliaments have stopped ACTA & TTIP, previous Commissions have sanctioned Microsoft and Intel but it seems that this regime is going to commit two huge mistakes in regulating the new techno-economy.

The European Council has made the proposed Copyright Directive even worse! The link tax and the upload filters are still in place but the protections for authors and researchers have been weakened. The duties on social media sites with respect to licensing material are onerous to the extent of impossibility but then the law was always designed to transfer money from the datenkraken to legacy publishing businesses and turn the internet into a commercial jukebox. It’s so poor that despite,

As the entertainment industry representatives have said repeatedly during this fight, they are after nothing less than a fundamental reshaping of the Internet, where our ability to use networks for employment, family, civics, politics, education, collaboration, romance, and all the other purposes we put them to are subordinated to the use of the Internet as a glorified jukebox and video-on-demand service — where killing every EU competitor to U.S. Big Tech is an acceptable price to pay if it means transferring a few points to Big Content’s balance sheet. corydoctorow @eff

even the music companies now no longer want this law as it is.

The other piece of legislation is the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive in which the Government’s have weaked the principle that public money buys public domain. For more see Glyn Moody on Tech Dirt, EU’s New ‘Open By Default’ Rules For Data Generated By Public Funding Subverted At The Last Minute.

Julia Reda, the Euro Pirate Party MEP writes on how to stop the Copyright Directive and points that the final votes in the Parliament will take place in the run-up to the Parliamentary elections. Not sure if the UK is taking part in them, or if there will be a selection for the candidates in the Labour Party, there wasn’t in 2012, they forgot, but I shall be writing to the Labour MEPs asking them to vote to support freedom of speech and a free internet.

You might want to too! …

Positive balance

The BBC are very proud of their contribution to the balance of payments through the licensing of their content. I decided today to see if they do, in fact, contribute once the rights payments to 3rd party companies is taken into account. I have asked the DDCMS but the BBC is subject to FOI questions. I need to think about how I phrase the question, but Heather Brook’s book, should help, if I can find it. …

More on the Copyright Directive

I need to thank the Register for publishing this article, “Looming EU copyright rules – tackling Google news article scraping, installing upload filters – under fire from all sides“. It’s written from their seemingly normal editorial line of, how shall we put it, “Copyleft Scepticism”. I am usually on the other side of this debate, but the language in this article is less offensive than usual. Actually it reminded me of a couple of issues which to me have dropped below the horizon, partly because whenever new tech. competes with old media the people who get lost and forgotten are citizens and users. In this article, below/overleaf I write about some of the less obvious side effects of the Link Tax, the cost of Licensing content for small users, question why we permit copyright protection for news, the corollary of weak fair use laws,  the corollary of the economics of upload filters, and the impact of the growing unpopularity of Google. I published my diatribe on the bad economics and moral vacancy of the copyright business in on this blog in a post entitled, “A failure to serve Fans”. This article is meant to be a bit more targeted and a bit off-piste. … …

Another look at free software

I read this, “‘Software is meant to be free …” at Hackernoon and found it disappointingly lightweight. It talks of Stallman, thus the four freedoms and the GNU project and mentions Eric Raymond in passing as the man who coined the phrase Open Source rather than the author of the Cathedral & the Bazaar and Homesteading the Noosphere. He doesn’t mention Stallman’s attack on the concept/phrase of Open Source since he considered it a diminishing of the four freedoms. It’s weak on the evolution of copyleft; it doesn’t mention for instance, Laurence Lessig and the Creative Commons. Clary also fails to mention Torvalds, the man most associated with Linux, the prime example of Open Source Software, although the EU Commission discovered that the largest contributor to the open source code base was Sun Microsystems.

It is particularly weak in its view of how and why the proprietary software behemoths adopted Open Source. They did so primarily in areas where they were weak in market share and profitability and where their competitors were the inverse. IBM’s massive investment in Linux, much of it through its OEM agreement with Red Hat was designed to kill Sun MIcrosystem’s Solaris; it is arguable that they succeeded, although both I and Eric Raymond think it’s more complex than that, as provoked by him, I argue here.

Our understanding of the economics and sociology has moved on since then. Anne Barron in her 2013 paper, Free Software Production as Critical Social Practice which I should really re-read looks at both and earlier in the previous decade Simon Phipps articulated new sources of value and new contexts for open source software, both how free software created scarce markets, and that open source governance models equally created and constrained the value of its free product. I was lucky to be able to present his theories once or twice and I reported on one such presentation on this blog 10 years ago.

These papers and theories are somewhat aged certainly when one considers the speed of technology development but its possible that even older theories such as Marx’s Fragment on the Machine and more recent developments in conceiving of immaterial labour, and the enigma of software’s role in the means of production are all part of the questions that need to be answered to understand the economic role and governance of software.

It’s not that software wants to be free … it’s just looking like no matter what theories of price you adhere to, free is the right price.

ooOOOoo

See also Free, the right price for software and maybe Monopoly and prices, both by me on this blog, written in 2009 exploring the micro/meso-economic classical welfare theories as to why software should be free. …

Appropriation

Are we in a world where the copyright laws are morally/economically based on the Labour Theory of Value and the workers get paid as the product is used while everything else is appropriated and accrues to capital and its owners? I think so, although of course Capital steals/buys the copyright; they win either way. …

Newly in the public domain

Today is a great day; in the USA, works written/created in 1922 become available under the public domain as the 1970’s extension laws durations expire. This is recorded by Ars Technica, in an article entitled, Mickey Mouse and Batman will soon be public domain—here’s what that means. This headline is misleading since these properties won’t become PD until the 2030s. Don’t quite get the maths myself since the international treaties talk of 70 year durations and this looks like 95 years but we do know that this was an exercise in corrupt lobbying power but it would seem that “I’ve got you Babe”, written by the Congressional sponsor of the second extension law, yup, they did it twice, expires in 2060; don’t think I’ll be around to enjoy it for free. What a greedy twat!

 …

In Canada, on copyright

Torrentfreak, always worth a read, highlights a debate in Canada where they propose to lengthen copyright duration to the Berne treaty maximum. Bryan Adams, for those of us who remember him argues that long copyright duration benefits intermediaries and distributors, not creators. TF notes that the Canadian law proposes that the creator’s estate can revoke a copyright grant at 25 years after the death of the author and suggests that this should be at 25 years after the initial grant. Sadly unlikely to happen. Very similar to my proposal to Top of the Manifestos at #lab13. …

Charging for Content? Why?

For proselytising organisations, there is a conflict of motives in getting their stuff out there and read, viewed or heard by those interested in what they have to say and either covering their costs or making money by charging for the content. Religious organisations, self-help organisations and political parties should prefer to make the material available, whereas private sector press organisations like Sky will prefer to maximise income.

Obviously, once the content has been digitised, the cost to duplicate is zero.[1]

Some self-help organisations are confused as to what their priority is, to spread the message or generate income.


[1]The cost to create is not zero, neither is the cost to consume even if the price is free. …

Reinforcing Monopoly

Hereby are two stories about how software acts as a barrier to entry to a market and reinforces the monopoly power of its provider.

The first is shown by the fact that industrial content are getting cold feet over the EU copyright directive as the service providers have switched to supporting Article 13 since they already have the so-called “upload filters”. Only the big boys will be able to remain in the game of hosting user authored content. As predicted, the new regulations will inhibit both startups and SMEs.

The second story is closer to home. The UK have decided to mandate age verification functionality for porn sites. Who do you think is going to build that? Alec Muffet and the Open Rights Group have been tracking this and even if you think it’s a good idea, they way it’s being done is disastrous. The BBFC is the regulator and this is a massive piece of scope creep, it looks like they will licence a third party to act as the software provider and again the favourites to win this business is an interested party. Alec’s latest blog post is on Medium and is critical of the regulator’s stance and IT Security expertise and he previously wrote about the competitive dynamics and opportunities created by the new laws. Muffet is also concerned about the profiling use of such a database of porn users. It’s almost back to the days of the Roman Empire where monopolies were licensed. …