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. …

Creativity and Culture

I popped into the Policy Seminar on Energy and Culture, hoping to ask why the front bench had without mandate had supported the EU’s Copyright Directive and seemed to equate the interests of creators with those of the industry. The front bench culture spokesman, there was only one, repeated the shaky statistic that the UK was a net exporter of music. We’ll see. I had to go to a delegation meeting and so was not called to speak. …

A failure to serve fans

The European Parliament sent the Copyright Directive to the trialogue process, where the views of the commission, the council and the parliament are negotiated; the final words agreed by the parliament are basically the words lobbied for by the large corporate press and content companies aided at the last gasp by the sports industry. To understand why this is shit we need to go back to basics. This article is quite long and continues below, or overleaf … …

Sectoral Balance of Trade

As one does I am considering the international trade implications of copyrighted products? I wonder what the balance of trade state is, over the last five years for Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) groups J.58 broken down to 58.1 & 58.2, J.60, J.62, M.72, R.90? These are Publishing inc. computer games and other software, Programming and Broadcasting, Computer Programming and Consultancy, Scientific Research and Creative Arts and Entertainment?

It would also be good to see the balance of trade for the UK drug industry but it is no longer a single SIC and I am afraid that much as for the five SIC classes above, the real surplus/deficit will be hidden through inter-company transfers, i.e. the import is by one company that buys from a another foreign division of itself and the trade is a sterling internal market trade. …

Ulveas together

Another interesting copyright story. In 1974 ABBA won the Eurovision song contest with Waterloo. This launched an amazing career releasing 66 singles between 1974 and 1982, with nine UK No. 1 positions and 11 BPI Gold discs, putting them in the top 20 best selling bands ever.

But as we know, copyright lasts for life + 70 years and so reusing their material can only be done at a price. While researching this article, I discovered that we can perform an artist’s copyrighted material for money in a venue, and it is the venue’s responsibility to pay the collecting society. However, band names are protected by intellectual property laws.

It became clear, that ABBA had ceased to perform, and declared that they never would again and in 1988, Rod Stephen launched an ABBA tribute band, called “Bjorn Again”, which is a different name and also protected. This has also been successful. The line-up has changed, and even at times there have been two bands on separate tours.  Fascinating that such a simple copyright statement allows the appropriation of value. I think I’ll copyright “Ulveas together”.

It’s a story of great music and showmanship, abandoned and restored, but still enclosed. You can perform it, but you can’t monetise it without paying a tax. When I first conceived of this article, I was curious as to whether the Bjorn Again owners were licensing the name as a franchise, however it seems not but it would be a smart business move, and another illustration of the monopolistic tendencies created by modern creative copyright.

There seems to me to be something not quite right about the way the performers & fans are at the bottom of the heap in this particular model. …

Big Copyright strikes again

Big Copyright strikes again

This time in the European Parliament. They want upload filters and to tax ISSP’s reuse, but you can do something about it.

Last week a committee of MEPs voted 15 – 10, reported here by one of its members, Julia Reda, the sole Pirate Party MEP, in favour of the EU Copyright Directive’s disastrous Article 13. This misguided measure will introduce upload filters that would change the way that much of the Internet works, from free and creative sharing, to one where anything can be removed without warning, by computers. They also voted in favour of Article 11, which Europeanises a German & Spanish law and places a monetary liability on internet software service providers who use snippets of news articles originally published by for-profit publishers.

This article explains why the measures are wrong, and points to the campaign sites. It was amended on the 5th July after the vote to report the result, which was that the Parliament voted to re-open the discussion in plenary.

Here are the votes, interesting splits. …

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

Manifesto bingo, digital liberty and the internet

I have had a look  at the manifestos and see what they have to say on the internet and Digital Liberty. I have been very influenced by the EDRi voting exchange and summarise the issues of Digital Liberty as e-citizenship, equality before the law, privacy and copyright reform, to which for this election we must add internet governance and industrial & innovation policy. I have created a table summarising the positions of the Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens. Possibly I should have analysed the SNP manifesto since much of this is Westmister reserved powers. I was hoping to write something easy and quick to read. I don’t think I have succeeded. My super summary is in the figure immediately below, and here is the table I built to help me write this article. (I lost the excel file, so this will have to do!)  My main source was the ORG pages but I have been reading the Labour Manifesto also. I feel that the opposition parties have suffered from the surprise; they probably expected more time to develop their promises. All three opposition parties 2015 manifestos covered these issues in more depth.  …