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March 8, 2007

Copyright, the internet and the entertainment industry

I attended a terrific public address last night by Professor Terry Fisher (Harvard University) at the State Library organised by QUT's IP: KCE research group.

In 1 hour Fisher took us on a tour of copyright issues in the enertainment industry from the past, how they are affected today by the internet and he then suggested some alternative futures.

What made his presentation so effective was his use of an economic framework, not just a legal one, starting with consumption and production and reference to statistics of what was actually happening.

Although he used charts and only one video (the "Grey movie") his visual presentation was based on a mindmap (using Freemind) with links to charts on powerpoint and keynote.

He gave 4 possible futures (and suggested there might be a combination of one or all of them):
1. Strengthen existing IP rights
2. Reinforce self-help strategies
3. An alternative compensation system.(the most radical)
4. A renewed entertainment ecology.

He argued that the existing entertainment giants prefer 1 and 2. He is in favour of 3 and if not 3, then 4.

Number 3 (a new compensation system) proposes that there be no copyright for digital content but that there be a new tax to pay creators of content including a tax of $5 a month per user of broadband internet services. The money would be distributed based on the frequency of consumption (ie watching/listening) not by downloads. Any counting technology would need to overcome privacy issues and manipulation.

His next best alternative is 4, a whole new framework which compensates creators fairly but makes digital content freely available by allowing new business models.

He gave an example of a new project in which he has an interest: Noank Media.

Summary: a whirlwind 1 hour tour of the issues plus an insight into possible futures.

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Posted 8th March 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal, Web/Tech