Clearly, two decades of negotiations, talks and diplomacy have led us nowhere. In my opinion, the time to be inclusive has come and passed. Publishers have opted to remain outside of the scholarly community and work against it, rather than with it. Actions of civil disobedience like those of Aaron Swartz and Alexandra Elbakyan are a logical consequence of two decades of stalled negotiations and failed reform efforts.

Source: » Sci-Hub as necessary, effective civil disobedience

A few thoughts on Sci-Hub. I was just quoted in the NYTimes saying that “Unlawful [open] access gives open access a bad name.” I’m already taking heat from friends and allies for saying it. But I also said more on the same subject that was not quoted. I’ll clarify a bit here by providing some of what the NYT omitted. But I’m well aware that some friends and allies who disagree with the short formulation will also

Source: A few thoughts on Sci-Hub. I was just quoted in the NYTimes saying that…

If a for-profit business cannot prosper without demanding huge amounts of free labor, then surely the business model needs reinventing. And if enough professors refuse to referee without compensation, the reinvention will begin.

Source: Want to Change Academic Publishing? Just Say No

The dark web actually has promise. In essence, it’s the World Wide Web as it was originally envisioned.

Looking beyond the scaremongering, however, the dark web actually has promise. In essence, it’s the World Wide Web as it was originally envisioned: a space beyond the control of individual states, where ideas can be exchanged freely without fear of being censored. As countries continue to crack down on the web, its dark counterpart is only going to become more relevant as a place to discuss and connect with each other. We shouldn’t let the myth of the dark web ruin that potential.

Source: The Dark Web as You Know It Is a Myth

An analysis on the role of hackers in the age of cyberwarfare, published in the special issue on business and technology of the Hungarian weekly HVG.
Read the rest of this entry »

My work—which involved interviews with file sharers as part of a dissertation in Social Anthropology—has focused on the strong non-economic undercurrent to participation in file sharing networks, ranging from the greater sense of agency and freedom they provided in an expanding cultural universe to their role as a perceived alternative to the ongoing Greek delegitimation of most social and political institutions. Freedom of expression, freedom to communicate, access to knowledge and information, excitement at the rediscovery and “rebirth” of old and rare works… All have figured as important motives for engagement with P2P networks. So too do perceptions of the lack of formal infrastructure and institutions for supporting cultural creativity; the successive shrinking of the welfare state; and the ongoing political crisis, shaped by scandals, nepotism and patronage relations. Within this context, P2P networks represent a form of self-organization and reconfiguration of social life outside established channels that has proved both valuable and—for some—inspirational in the context of the larger Greek crisis.

For some Greek youth, especially, the growth of P2P networks in Greece crystallized aspects of their broader social and political disaffection. Since 2008, P2P culture has merged with wider forms of political and sociocultural critique from all sides of the political spectrum. During the riots of December 2008, a popular Greek P2P tracker published a manifesto in which envisioned a full spectrum of social demands, from the development of alternative sources of energy; to free education, health care and public transportation; to the abolition of the anti-riot police units used to suppress protests; to the “copyleft of all spiritual and informative material.”

via File Sharing and the Greek Crisis » infojustice.

A kiadókkal, forgalmazókkal és egyéb jogtulajdonosokkal ápolt viszonyuk amúgy érdekes. Mint mondják, rengeteg dolog szerepel a tiltott anyagok listáján. „Alapvetően mindenkivel megegyezünk, aki normális hangnemben közelít. A kamerás filmek sem csak azért lettek letiltva, mert lesújtóan szar minőségűek; hanem több filmforgalmazóval is megállapodtunk, hogy a dvd/bluray kiadásig várunk, így adva több esélyt a moziknak.” A legfrissebb olyan dolog, amit sokan keresnének, de nem találják az oldalon, a Watch Dogs című játék, amit egy ideig a magyar forgalmazó kérésére nem engednek majd feltölteni senkinek.A hivatalos indoklás szerint erre azért van szükség, hogy a játék kiadó

via Index – Tech – A rendőrök is tőlünk töltik le a filmeket.

Russell Brand testifies to Parliament about drug policy, channels Groucho Marx – Boing Boing.

In this video they talk about the importance of giving honest information on drugs in school education, because noone listens to info which contradicts everyday experiences. I thing the same argument applies to  IP education as well. (see the wonderful introduction of Lewis Hyde’s new book Common as air for an example).

On a second though I cannot understand why adults think giving dishonest information to kids would help them educate on anything from drugs via sex to IP, or life, in general.Russell Brand testifies to Parliament about drug policy, channels Groucho Marx – Boing Boing.

The idea of alternatives to copyright should not sound strange. There already is a vast amount of work supported through universities, private foundations and different levels of government. While the existing channels of funding are not sufficient to replace copyright-supported work, they can be expanded to fill the gap.One route would be to allow individuals a modest refundable tax credit — an artistic freedom voucher AFV — that would allow them to give $75-$100 a year to support creative work. This money could either go directly to the worker or to an intermediary that supports specific types of creative work e.g. an intermediary may finance action films, jazz music, or mystery novels.

via Dean Baker: The Surefire Way to End Online Piracy: End Copyright.The idea of alternatives to copyright should not sound strange. There already is a vast amount of work supported through universities, private foundations and different levels of government. While the existing channels of funding are not sufficient to replace copyright-supported work, they can be expanded to fill the gap.One route would be to allow individuals a modest refundable tax credit — an artistic freedom voucher AFV — that would allow them to give $75-$100 a year to support creative work. This money could either go directly to the worker or to an intermediary that supports specific types of creative work e.g. an intermediary may finance action films, jazz music, or mystery novels.

via Dean Baker: The Surefire Way to End Online Piracy: End Copyright.

As I noted in my previous post with a reading list, I found it really hard to find good bibliographies when trying to figure out what was important to read. The best sources were obviously the notes sections of books and current articles, and it required a lot of compilation! I see no reason not to share the fruits of my labor; there’s no value to a list of books.

Below is my working bibliography for the dissertation. This is just the foundational stuff: almost all of them books, with a few articles thrown in that I’ve needed to cite in my proposal. If I missed anything, put it in the comments or email me!

via Reading List: Media Industries, History and Convergence (Radio/TV/Film/Internet) | Televisual.

From the perspective of copyright holders, piracy represents lost revenue. In this article we argue that piracy nevertheless has important generative features. We consider the range of commercial opportunities that piracy opens up outside of the media industries, identifying four overlapping fields of legal anti-piracy enterprise: technological prevention, revenue capture, knowledge generation, and policing/enforcement. Our analysis notes the commercialization of these activities and their close relationship with the informal media economy. A case study of recent “speculative invoicing” lawsuits demonstrates the extent of this commercialization and its detachment from the mainstream content industries.

via The Business of Anti-Piracy: New Zones of Enterprise in the Copyright Wars by Ramon Lobato, Julian Thomas :: SSRN.

Digital copyright has become a key site of debate and dissent as a generation of consumers accustomed to file-sharing of proprietary content seeks to assert its rights more aggressively. A vocal anti-copyright movement has emerged, rallying around a free-speech defence of piracy honed in opposition to the hardline approach to intellectual property (IP) enforcement pursued by the US entertainment lobbies. This article discusses recent attempts at collective legitimation within this movement, with a focus on the implicit critiques of copyright that underpin pro-piracy discourse. I conclude that if this kind of popular copyright critique is to be more than a pet cause for early adopters, it needs to begin with an inclusive philosophy of access that does not reify the creative consumer as the normative citizen of the information society.

via Constructing the pirate audience: on popular copyright critique, free culture and cyber-libertarianism – Swinburne Research Bank : Open Access Repository.

Each new pocket of attention is harder to find: maybe your product needs to steal attention from that one TV obscure show watched by just 3% of the population between 11:30 and 12:30 AM. The next displacement will fragment the attention even more. When found, each new pocket is less valuable. There is a lot more money to be made in replacing hand-washing time with washing-machine plus magazine time, than there is to be found in replacing one hour of TV with a different hour of TV.

via A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100.

Az elmúlt években a szerzői jogsértésekkel kapcsolatban leggyakrabban a fájlcserélő hálózatok kerültek szóba, a Facebook azonban mindig kimaradt. Pedig Christian Solmecke, a Wilde Beuger Solmecke Médiajogi Ügyvédi Iroda résztulajdonosa szerint több millió tinédzser gyakorlatilag a szerzői jogot megsértve internetezik. A közösségi portálon több millióan rendelkeznek saját profillal és az ott megjelentetett tartalmak miatt sokezer eurós kártérítési perek is indíthatók lennének.

A Facebookon a fiatalok megosztják ismerőseikkel a sztárok fotóit, YouTube-videóit, dalszövegeit vagy különböző könyvek beszkennelt oldalait. A jogász úgy véli, hogy egyetlen átlagos Facebook-tagnak akár 10 000, vagy 15 000 euróról szóló csekket is ki lehetne kézbesíteni. Az persze már más kérdés, hogy a szerzői jogi ügyekkel foglalkozó ügyvédek és a zene-, illetve a filmipar érdekeit képviselő szervezetek még nem fedezték fel ezt a számukra mindenképpen kincsesbányát jelentő világot.

A perek megnyerésére a jelenleg hatályos szerzői jogi törvények alapján elvileg jó esély lenne, és a felhasználók még csak nem is tudnának védekezni. A figyelmeztető levelek után hiába törölnék esetleg a linkeket vagy a videókat, a jogsértés ténye ettől még fennállna. Az ügyvéd számos példát felsorolt: egy sztár fotójának engedély nélküli nyilvánosságra hozatala büntethető csakúgy, mint a YouTube-videókra mutató hivatkozások megjelentetése. De az sem érezheti magát biztonságban, aki a saját, népszerű slágerek feldolgozásait játszó zenekarának felvételeit jelenteti meg. A zeneszámok eredeti előadója és kiadója ugyanis szintén kártérítési igénnyel léphet fel.

A dalszövegek sem jelentenek kivételt, mivel 70 éves szerzői jogvédelem vonatkozik rájuk. Végül, de egyáltalán nem utolsósorban az is büntethető, aki ilyen tartalmakat ugyan nem jelentet meg, de a rájuk való hivatkozásokat terjeszti az ismerősei, barátai körében. A jogász persze irreálisnak tartja elképzelését, ezzel a felvetéssel csupán érzékeltetni kívánta mekkora szükség lenne egy teljesen új szerzői jogi szabályozás kialakítására, amellyel kivédhető lenne, hogy fiatalok milliói naponta kövessenek el jogsértéseket. Jelenleg még csak nagyon ritkán küldenek az ügyvédek figyelmeztetéseket a Facebook-tagoknak, azonban félő, hogy hamarosan szabályos feljelentési és kártérítés kérési lavina indulhat el.

Kapcsolódó cikkek

via – Tele vannak jogsértésekkel a közösségi oldalak.

“The hacktivism 1.0 was the activism of outsiders. Its organizing principle was to get outsiders into the territory of the other. Wikileaks, on the other hand, is an infostructure developed to be used by insiders. Its sole purpose is to help people get information out from an organization. Wikileaks shifts the source of potential threat from a few and dangerous hackers and a larger group of mostly harmless activists – both outsiders to an organization -, to those who are on the inside. For mass protesters and cyber activists anonymity is a nice, but certainly not an essential feature. For insiders trying to smuggle information out, anonymity is a necessary condition for participation. Wikileaks has demonstrated that the access to such features can be democratized, made simple and user friendly. Easy anonymity also radically transforms who the activist may be. It turns a monolithic, crystal clear identity, defined through opposition into something more complex, multilayered, hybrid, by allowing the cultivation of multiple identities, multiple loyalties.  It allows those to enter the activist scene, who do not want to define themselves – at least not publicly – as activist, radical or oppositional. The promise – or rather, the condition – of Wikileaks is that one can be in the inside and on the outside at the same time. Through anonymity the mutually exclusive categories of inside/outside, cooption/resistance, activism/passivity, power/subjection can be overridden and collapsed.”

excerpt from my upcoming publication on wikileaks, freedom and sovereignty in the cloud.“The hacktivism 1.0 was the activism of outsiders. Its organizing principle was to get outsiders into the territory of the other. Wikileaks, on the other hand, is an infostructure developed to be used by insiders. Its sole purpose is to help people get information out from an organization. Wikileaks shifts the source of potential threat from a few and dangerous hackers and a larger group of mostly harmless activists – both outsiders to an organization -, to those who are on the inside. For mass protesters and cyber activists anonymity is a nice, but certainly not an essential feature. For insiders trying to smuggle information out, anonymity is a necessary condition for participation. Wikileaks has demonstrated that the access to such features can be democratized, made simple and user friendly. Easy anonymity also radically transforms who the activist may be. It turns a monolithic, crystal clear identity, defined through opposition into something more complex, multilayered, hybrid, by allowing the cultivation of multiple identities, multiple loyalties.  It allows those to enter the activist scene, who do not want to define themselves – at least not publicly – as activist, radical or oppositional. The promise – or rather, the condition – of Wikileaks is that one can be in the inside and on the outside at the same time. Through anonymity the mutually exclusive categories of inside/outside, cooption/resistance, activism/passivity, power/subjection can be overridden and collapsed.”

excerpt from my upcoming publication on wikileaks, freedom and sovereignty in the cloud.

In this book my aim was to look beyond the legal and economic readings of contemporary western copyright piracy and understand it as a unique social practice that merits attention not only because of its dubious legality, ubiquity, or the havoc it has played with copyright-based business models, but first and foremost because it shapes the ideas and attitudes of millions of netizens about what intellectual property is and could be; what sharing and online cooperation means in a p2p setting; what privacy is and how it can be protected; how to form and negotiate online identities in an anonymous environment, just to name a few issues. Piracy is not just a drain on the cultural economy, but a powerful productive force whose legacy in social relations will stay with us long after the economic conditions that called it into being –and the power vacuum that enabled it – have passed.
Read the rest of this entry »

I am reading Adrian Johns’ The Nature of the Book. For the first few hundred years the biggest problems pirates were causing was that they mutilated, transformed, abridged, etc. the texts, causing great concern for the authors. Exact copying was in this sense a rare achievement and a secondary problem. Now we seek to protect transformative uses of copyrighted materials by CC licenses and such, but condemn non-transformative copying. Ironic, but i can hardly believe, that the concerns of Martin Luther were (can be) dissipated by post-modernist intertextuality, or by technological development.

Grace and peace! What is all this, dear sirs, that one should openly rob and steal what belongs to the other, thus ruining one another? Have you now become street robbers and thieves? Or do you really imagine that God will bless and cause you to prosper through such knavery? I have gone on with the postils up till Easter, when they were secretly abstracted from the printing-press by the compositor, who maintains himself by the sweat of our brow, and who himself conveyed my writings to your most estimable town, where they were hurriedly printed and sold before the whole was finished, to the great detriment of all concerned. But I would even have put up with all this injury, had they not treated my books as they did — printing them so hurriedly and falsely — that when they reach my hands I scarcely know them to be mine. Some bits are left out, here they are displaced, there falsified, and other parts not corrected. And they have learned the art of writing Wittenberg on the top of some which have never seen Wittenberg. This is downright knavery. So let every one beware of the postils for the six Sabbaths, and let them sink into oblivion, for I do not acknowledge them as mine. Therefore take warning, my dear printers, who thus steal and rob. Other towns on the Rhine — Strassburg, etc., do not do this; and even if they did, it would not harm us so; for their publications do not reach us in the same way as yours do, being so much nearer. For you know what St. Paul says to the Thessalonians: “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter, because that the Lord is the avenger of all such.” One day you will experience this. Should not a Christian out of brotherly love wait for a month or two before he copies his work? We have put up with this till it has become unbearable, and has prevented us going on with the printing of the prophets, as we do not wish to see them spoiled, so greed and envy are delaying the spread of the Divine Word, and the fault lies at your door. Indulge your greed as much as you will, till we Germans are called brutes, but pray do not do so in the name of God. The judgment will most surely descend. May better times soon come. Amen.

Prezi created for the
Circuits of Profit: Business Network Research Conference

January 28, 2010.
Central European University

2008 folyamán szisztematikus méréseket végeztünk néhány, Magyarországon meghatározó jelentőségű bittorrent trackeren a célból, hogy részletes, jó minőségű képet alkothassunk a peer-to-peer feketepiacok működéséről, súlyukról, jelentőségükről a kulturális piacok egészének szempontjából.

Az így nyert adatokat végül a magyarországi mozipiac elemzéséhez használtuk fel, mivel a mozis disztribúció esetében állnak rendelkezésre nyilvánosan az általunk gyűjtöttekhez mérhetően jó minőségű és részletességű adatok. A most elkészült elemzés tehát a p2p film-feketepiac és a mozifilm-forgalmazás egyes legális csatornáinak egymáshoz való viszonyát térképezi fel, mégpedig a következő három szempont szerint:

  • a feketepiaci kínálat alakulása: mitől függ, hogy melyik film és mikor válik a feketepiacon is elérhetővé?
  • a feketepiaci kereslet alakulása: mitől függ, hogy egy-egy filmnek hány letöltője lesz?
  • a p2p fájlcsere, mint autonóm fogyasztási logika leírása: mi a fájlcserélők, mint önálló tartalom-szerkesztő, tartalom-csomagoló, tartalom-terjesztő közösségek működési logikája?

Az elemzésben a feketepiac 2008 májusában és júniusában mért forgalmát, a Magyarországon 2004 után bemutatott premierfilmek forgalmazási adatait, valamint a magyarországi mozik 2000 utáni játszási adatait használtuk fel. Az elemzés nem egészen 5000 különböző film mozis és/vagy feketepiaci forgalmára terjed ki.

A  filmek feketepiaci forgalmát és a moziforgalmazás jellegzetességeit összevető, Lakatos Zoltánnal közösen írott tanulmányunk innen letölthető.

A feketepiaci kínálat
A legális forgalmazók szempontjából a legfontosabb kérdés az, hogy meg lehet-e akadályozni a mozis terjesztésbe kerülő filmek kiszivárgását a fájlcserélő hálózatokra, azaz befolyásolni lehet-e a feketepiaci kínálatot. A kutatás eredményei szerint a vizsgálat ideje alatt a feketepiacra kikerült 3600 film háromnegyede olyan alkotás volt, ami csak 2000 előtt, vagy egyáltalán nem volt mozikban, és csak alig 4%, azaz 152 film volt olyan, ami a kikerülése időpontjában a mozikban is látható volt. A vizsgált időszakban a mozikban játszott filmek közül minden ötödik került ki valamilyen formában a fájlcserélő hálózatokra. Azt a – forgalmazók szempontjából megnyugtatónak tűnő – tényt, hogy a feketepiacon elérhető filmek túlnyomó része mozis forgalmazásból már kikerült, archív tartalom, némileg árnyalja, hogy azok a filmek, amik viszont a mozis forgalmazással egy időben a feketepiacon is elérhetők, éppen a komoly PR-ral támogatott, a kiadók nagy várakozásaitól kísért, ezért sok kópiával forgalmazott (többségében nyilván hollywoodi) közönségfilmek közül kerülnek ki. A p2p kiszivárgás esélyét tovább növeli, ha a filmet sokan látják és/vagy nemzetközileg is sikeres. Minél erősebb promóciót kap egy film, annál valószínűbb, hogy kikerül a kalózhálózatokra. A p2p feketepiac kínálatának egy része erősen marketing-vezérelt.
Egészen más a helyzet a mozik műsorából hiányzó filmeknél. Ez utóbbiak kalózmegjelenését a moziforgalmazás jellemzői alig magyarázzák. Annyit mondhatunk csupán, hogy a kevesebb helyen vetített filmek a mozik programjából kikerülve kissé érdekesebbek lesznek a fájlcserélők számára, és hogy a múltban játszott filmek p2p jelenlétének esélye független a korábbi közönségsikertől, azaz korábban a filmre eladott mozijegyek számától.
Ez utóbbi jelenséggel függ össze, hogy egyes rétegműfajokba (pl, zenei, dráma, vagy romantikus filmek közé) sorolható filmek p2p elérhetősége akkor ugrik meg, amikor mozikban már nem játsszák őket. Míg a rétegműfajok esetében a fájlcserélő hálózatok archívum-funkciót töltenek be, addig más, esetleg gyorsabban avuló filmeket felsoroltató műfajok (fantasy/sci-fi, kalandfilm) esetében az aktuálisukat vesztett filmek hamar kikopnak a feketepiacról is.

A feketepiaci kereslet
A feketepiaci kereslettel foglalkozó szakaszban mindenekelőtt arra voltunk kíváncsiak, milyen tényezőkkel magyarázható az, hogy melyik filmet mennyiszer töltenek le. Azt találtunk, hogy a letöltések számára legnagyobb hatással ismét csak a kópiaszám, azaz a forgalmazói marketing-erő volt.: minél több pénzt költ a forgalmazó a mozis kereslet növelésére, annál többen nézik meg a filmet a fájlcserélők közül is. Nem találtuk azonban nyomát jelentős mértékű helyettesítésnek a mozi és a torrent között: a vizsgált két hónapban vetített filmek esetében 1 millió 650 ezer eladott jegy mellett 158 ezer letöltést regisztráltunk, azaz csak minden tízedik mozinézőre jut egy, a filmet ingyen megnéző fájlcserélő. Az alacsony helyettesítési aránynak az lehet a legfőbb oka, hogy a moziélmény alig, és csak bizonyos műfajok esetén váltható ki egy rossz minőségű p2p kópia kis-képernyős megtekintésével.

A fenti ökölszabály ez egyes műfajok esetében némileg módosulhat. Az akció/thriller és a bűnügyi filmek az átlagnál kisebb mozis közönséget vonzottak, fájlcsere-forgalmuk mégis jóval átlag feletti volt. E műfajok közönségében valószínűleg felülreprezentáltak a férfiak, sőt a fiatal férfiak ― vagyis az a demográfiai csoport, amelyik a fájlcserélő-populációban is teljes lakosságon belüli arányát jelentősen meghaladó súlyt képvisel. E műfajok közönségének fájlcseréléssel foglalkozó szegmense szinte reflexszerűen lecsap a trackereken megjelenő legújabb „erőszakfilmekre”. Az erőszakfilmek kiugró kalózkeresletével szemben a romantikus filmek az átlagnál nagyobb mozis közönséget, viszont az átlagnál kevesebb fájlcserélőt vonzottak, amire viszont épp a „kettesben mozizás” jelenségére adhat magyarázatot.

Ami a moziban már nem látható filmeket illeti: a letöltött teljes filmvolumen több mint fele magyarországi mozikban 2000 óta nem játszott produkció. A felhasználók kevesebb, mint 10%-a töltött le kizárólag a letöltés idejében mozikban játszott filmeket, kétharmaduk éppen moziműsoron lévő és mozikban már nem játszott filmeket egyaránt letölt. Meglepően magas, közel 30% azoknak az aránya, akik csak moziban nem vagy régen vetített filmeket töltöttek le.

A fájlcserélők, mint autonóm fogyasztási közösségek
A folyamatos jogi fenyegetettség a korábban nyíltan fájlcserélő felhasználókat rejtőzködésre kényszeríti. A zárt ajtók mögé visszavonuló felhasználók kegyeiért számtalan tematikusan, nyelvileg, a felhasználói kör érdeklődésében, a közösség minőségében különböző fájlcserélő oldal verseng egymással. E közösségek mindegyike a maga logikája szerint válogat a világban elérhető számtalan tartalom közül.
Kutatásunkban három, magyar nyelvű, mainstream, tematikusan nem specializálódott közösség tartalomfogyasztási mintáit vizsgáltuk és azt találtuk, hogy e közösségek tartalomfogyasztása műfaji értelemben strukturálatlan, azaz a fájlcserélők kihasználják az ismeretlen kipróbálásának kockázat- és költségmentes lehetőségét, és tetszés szerint kalandoznak különböző műfajok között.

A nem specializálódott, mainstream p2p kereslet műfaji strukturálatlansága arra utal, hogy a fájlcserélésnek köszönhetően a tetszőleges ízlésű filmfogyasztó számára az „elkalandozás” saját preferenciájától, új műfajok, stílusok kockázat nélküli kipróbálása nem csupán elvi, hanem a gyakorlatban is kiaknázott lehetőség. A p2p kalózpiac egyik oldalán a tematikus struktúrák sokkal pontosabban jelennek meg, mint korábban ― köszönhetően annak, hogy a speciális tartalomtípusok köré szerveződő közönség kiszolgálása elől eltűnnek azok a méretgazdaságossági korlátok, melyekbe a piaci viszonyok között működő csatornák szükségszerűképpen beleütköznek. Másrészt az általános érdeklődési kört kiszolgáló hálózatok által a fogyasztóiknak felkínált tartalmi kalandozás, exploratív nomadizmus radikálisan különbözik az ezt a lehetőséget legális piacokon a televízió által biztosító channel-surfing, „zapping” élményétől. A p2p felhasználó a „véletlenül odakapcsolok-belenézek-nem tetszik-elkapcsolok” tévés logika helyett a „nem tudom mi ez-de letöltöm-kipróbálom-legfeljebb letörlöm-de az is lehet, hogy archiválom” aktív érdeklődést feltételező logikájával választ a tartalmak között.

További fontos tényező, hogy ezeken a csatornákon a programot maguk a felhasználók állítják össze: ők kérik, készítik el, szerkesztik be a műsorfolyamba, teszik elérhetővé be a friss kópiákat. A torrent-alapú filmdisztribúció egy viszonylag rövid életciklusú, az aktuális legális kínálatot koncentráltan, a felhasználók ad-hoc érdeklődését pedig fragmentáltan megjelenítő jukeboxhoz hasonlítható, ahol a kereslet az éppen aktuálisan felkerült néhány tucat, esetleg párszáz film között oszlik el. A filmes fájlcsere valahol félúton van a legális piacról mára szinte teljesen kikopott videokölcsönző és a tematikus tévécsatorna között, ahol a kínálatot és a programot a hálózatok közösségét alkotó felhasználók folyamatosan és interaktív módon alakítják. A globális feketepiacon elérhető tartalomkínálat körül helyileg releváns kontextusok alakulnak ki, amelyek a végső soron mindenki számára egyformán elérhető digitális kínálatot a helyi közösség igényei, értékei, érdeklődése alapján szűrik.
A fájlcsere mint sajátos szabályokkal, modus operandival bíró tartalomdisztribúciós infrastruktúra és a köré szerveződő fogyasztói közösségek térnyerése arra figyelmeztet, hogy a filmes disztribúciót nemcsak az alkotások elsődleges piaci jellemzői (ár, kínálat) felől, hanem a tartalmak fogyasztásának kontextusa, a tartalmak összefűzéséből létrejövő programming oldaláról is kihívás éri. A feketepiacok működése részben megelőlegezi, részben visszaigazolja a kulturális piacok átalakulásának azt a hipotézisét, mely szerint a disztribúciós szűkösség korában a termelők és a disztribútorok által generált és dominált kontextusok helyét fogyasztók által generált és tartalombőséggel jellemezhető kontextus veszi át. Ebben a tekintetben az online feketepiac (Magyarországon legalábbis) egyértelműen hiánypótló szerepet tölt be.

earthtreasury : Message: Creative Work Law for the EU. We have the right to share!

We Have the Right to Share

Clay Shirky

The unthinkable scenario unfolded something like this: The ability to share content wouldn’t shrink, it would grow. Walled gardens would prove unpopular. Digital advertising would reduce inefficiencies, and therefore profits. Dislike of micropayments would prevent widespread use. People would resist being educated to act against their own desires. Old habits of advertisers and readers would not transfer online. Even ferocious litigation would be inadequate to constrain massive, sustained law-breaking. (Prohibition redux.) Hardware and software vendors would not regard copyright holders as allies, nor would they regard customers as enemies. DRM’s requirement that the attacker be allowed to decode the content would be an insuperable flaw. And, per Thompson, suing people who love something so much they want to share it would piss them off.

Songs as Shared Things

Songs have always been shareable and shared. People, young and old, share songs with each other – by singing or playing them – in a variety of ways and settings, through a variety of technologies and media or other manner of accompaniment (as well as a capella). Songs as recordings are not fundamentally different in this respect. Since the advent of recorded media, people have shared songs in this form as well: played for each other in private and public settings, on personally distributed mixes (mixed tapes / CDs), and, in the age of mp3s, as files sent via email, IM (instant message), torrent, third-party hosting site, or any manner of online sites and services.

Ironically, today songs are most often shared via a video site, YouTube, which has become a de facto public audio repository. This development and the explosion of music-centered blogs and forums offer evidence, in the form of pervasive and popular practice, of how musical recordings are treated as public culture, things which people send to friends, family, and colleagues, point to and comment on, and remix in the course of their everyday lives.

To click on a YouTube link in order to access a song (or to send such a link to a friend) would hardly be considered an illegal action on the part of the millions of people who do so each day, and yet the action is hardly different from the Defendant’s use of a filesharing network to access the seven songs in question just a few years ago. Those songs are [links & YouTube stats added 6/30]:

* Bad Religion – American Jesus [448 results]
* Green Day – Minority [1,870 results]
* Incubus – New Skin [266 results]
* Incubus – Pardon Me [991 results]
* Nirvana – Come As You Are [4,190 results]
* Outkast – Wheelz of Steel [21 results]
* Sublime – Miami [65 results]

If one searches for any of these songs on YouTube today, one finds numerous instances of each, sometimes numbering in the dozens or even hundreds. Notably, beyond merely presenting the songs, the users who upload the videos frequently add their own elements, personalizing the songs in order to share them with peers and other potential viewers: they add new images, both still and video (including found footage and self-produced material); transcribe and caption the lyrics; sometimes, they edit or remix the audio itself, especially in the case of hip-hop songs (e.g., Outkast) – an interactivity consistent with cultural practice in hip-hop more generally.

Only in the relatively recent past – within the last century – have songs, in the “fixed” media form of audio recordings, been so strongly regulated as pieces of property whose use by others might be strictly limited. An examination at the level of cultural practice – that is, how songs as audio recordings have been used by people – demonstrates that even in such “fixed” form, songs have continued to serve as a commonplace site of sharing and creative interaction (also known as remixing). This becomes particularly evident in the use of playback technologies such as turntables as creative instruments in their own right (aiding the emergence of hip-hop and disco in the 1970s), an approach powerfully extended by the tools of the digital age.

Historicizing the Musical Commodity

The notion of the song as commodity is a relatively recent one, enabled by a certain technological confluence (the advent of recordable media and mass production), and it seems to be fading relatively quickly in the face of a new technological confluence (the digital). As musicologist Timothy Taylor writes in an award-winning article on “The Commodification of Music at the Dawn of the Era of ‘Mechanical Music’”: “the music-commodity has to be understood as always in flux, always caught up in historical, cultural, and social forces” (Taylor 2007: 283).

The album as a commodity form is a particularly illustrative example of this socially and culturally situated flux. The age of the album – roughly, the late 60s to the late 90s – was a fleeting moment, again enabled by a particular set of technologies (the advent of the long-player record, or LP, followed by the cassette and CD). While early album-oriented artists approached the LP form as an artistic opportunity, leading to the emergence of the “concept album,” by the late 90s album offerings were far more typically collections of “filler” material, propelled by a hit or two, sold at exorbitant prices (e.g., $18.99) to customers with no alternatives. At this point, the album is, in most cases, an anachronism, either an indulgent and/or exploitative exercise. Notably, internet vendors such as iTunes or eMusic and other distribution methods (including blogs and filesharing networks) have reinstated the primacy of the single track as the prevailing unit of popular music.

Reasonable paid alternatives to free downloading have only become available recently, and even then rather unevenly with regard to what is available and in what form. The defunct torrent tracker, Oink – and its ilk – offer(ed) higher quality files, better documented, uncrippled by DRM software, and of a far greater variety than one can find via any of the legally-permitted online music vendors.

Listening as a Transformative Use

Listening is an active process, a rich domain of interpretation and imagination, manifesting differently – according to personal idiosyncrasies and cultural mores alike – for each person and in each moment. As anthropologist Steven Feld explains in the oft cited “Communication, Music, and Speech about Music” (Feld 1984), the listening process is, when one considers all that is potentially involved, an enormously complex phenomenon very much centered on the particular listener in question. According to Feld, listening as an act of “musical consumption” involves, among other things: the dialectics of the musical object itself (text-performance, mental-material, formal-expressive, etc.), the various interpretive moves applied by the listener (locational, categorical, associational, reflective, evaluative), and the contextual frames available at any moment (expressive ideology, identity, coherence).

All of this activity is inextricably social in character, regardless of the musical object in question. As Feld notes, “We attend to changes, developments, repetitions–form in general–but we always attend to form in terms of familiarity or strangeness, features which are socially constituted through experiences of sounds as structures rooted in our listening histories” (85).

While grounded in communication studies and musical semiotics in Feld’s study, such an interpretation – centering the socially-situated hearing subject rather than the musical object (whether live performance or mp3) – is also consistent with a great deal of literary and media theory from the past thirty years, from Roland Barthes’s infamous 1977 “Death of the Author” to Henry Jenkins’s contemporary theories about spreadability and value.

LA Times

Hans Pandeya, CEO of Global Gaming Factor, said he intends to cooperate with studios and record labels to turn Pirate Bay into a copyright-friendly business.

“We’re a publicly listed company, so whatever we take over has to be legal,” he explained. “To be legal, you have to have content providers who are paid. That’s what we want.”

Convincing Pirate Bay’s reported 20 million users accustomed to getting content for free into paying customers will an extremely difficult task, but Pandeya said he plans to make an enticing offer.

“To compete with free file sharing, you have to beat it,” he said. “What’s better than zero? Well, that’s paying somebody $1.”

Global Gaming Factor plans to pay Pirate Bay users to let their computers be part of a worldwide peer-to-peer system that can transmit data for Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast. Theoretically, it could vastly reduce the bandwidth costs of ISPs, which are struggling to keep up with the rapidly growing amount of traffic moving through the ‘Net, much of it because of illegal piracy.

Participating computer owners could use the money deposited into their account to buy and download songs, TV shows or movies.

ZDNet Government |

Google is under anti-trust scrutiny for its book publisher dealings. In A Book Grab by Google, Brewster Kahle rightly pleas:

We need to focus on legislation to address works that are caught in copyright limbo, and we need to stop monopolies from forming so that we can create vibrant publishing environments, and that we are very close to having universal access to all knowledge.

But we must generalize this access argument beyond books. The issue is beyond just music too – which is a central focus of the debate since the advent of Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, Grokster, Limewire, BitTorrent, and the litany of file sharing library tools. It includes movies, photography, journalism, textbooks, remixing too.

In short, it concerns all forms of creative works under copyright. All content has irrevocably collided with the disruptive innovations of the digital Internet and Web.

Why? Because it involves the natural advent of a global digital public library network on the Web and it is fundamentally at odds with legacy copyright policy enforcement.

The global digital public library network

The physical public library system and the emerging digital public library should be understood to be part of a global digital public library network, or GDPLN (”good plan”) — an open network that allows interoperability of all global DPLs.

Consider the Library of Congress (LOC). It is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, started with Thomas Jefferson’s personal donation of his own private library. The Library’s mission is to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. It’s the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. We support it with our taxes.

Libraries and copyright have a long and uneasy relationship. In 1870, Congress centralized the copyright system inside the LOC. The Copyright Office is in charge of administering compulsory and statutory licenses. It required all authors to deposit in the Library two copies of every book, pamphlet, map, print, and piece of music registered in the United States. The place to restructure and rebalance copyright in the digital era is in the LOC & Copyright Office – but it will take administrative leadership, likely Presidential as it did at the advent of radio when President Hoover was involved.

Today a de facto digital public library exists but copyright has not been rebalanced to embrace it. Our physical public libraries may legally have all content under copyright law but our digital public library may not. This is the root of the fundamental policy gap that is leading to the disruption of the content industries.

Rebalancing copyright can establish a thoughtful digital public library network policy, end the failed war on digital piracy, adequately compensate creative artists – from journalists and authors to musicians and movie makers – for their works, and legitimize today’s de facto behavior of freely sharing content – under copyright or not – across the Web.

In the absence of a coherent digital library policy, personal home libraries are shared on peer-to peer networks to fill in holes in the GDPLN collection not provided by Google or digital library initiatives. This is not piracy: it is the natural sharing of home libraries which has occurred since Roman times.

The copyright war has failed
Legacy copyright is dysfunctional in the Web era because it struggles to create artificial scarcity alongside a digital public library. Despite the efforts at control, all content flows freely. It should — because the digital library is good for humanity. However, there is no compulsory, subscription or equivalent framework to recognize the existence of the GDPLN that provides a mechanism to collect a pool from its service providers and distribute it to creators of useful arts on the basis of their respective contributions. A similar compulsory solution was somewhat analogously created with the advent of radio.

Enforcement has failed, will continue to fail, and moreover should fail because it literally attacking the digital public library.

Consider the absurdity of music enforcement efforts. Look at China, which now gets free ad-supported music downloads in a label-approved deal with Google, while Americans and Europeans are sued for the natural behavior of sharing their private home digital library collections. The litany of harmful and fruitless litigation of GDPLN innovators and citizens continues go grow.

The private content industry is at war with the public digital library and the innovative companies providing the tools to build it. Paradoxically, copyright’s present policy is killing much of the content industry in the digital age by failing to codify the digital public library network.

The good of the library outweighs the interests of private library owners, yet we must find balance to compensate the creators of the useful arts.

Google itself is a product of digital libraries (the Stanford Digital Library Initiative). But under the “safe harbors” of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it can spider, index, link to, and exploit innumerable copyrighted works and pay nothing to the creators of the content. Google presently stores and returns much of the world’s journalism, and it is steadily adding books, music, movies and television programming to complete its collection. It is not obligated to comply with the public library privacy guidelines as detailed at the American Library Association.

What is to be done?
Consider a “straw-man” for a win-win global digital public library network policy that balances the needs of society and artists by restructuring copyright and extending physical public library principles to the digital age:

1. Levy Google as an anchor fee producer, as if it were a radio station – but for all content. Level the playing field for all providers to participate in the GDPLN. Alter the safe harbor for search engine portals and require a royalty pool to be collected in a radio-like solution – but for ALL content.
2. Establish more uniform privacy policies.
3. Be open. Allow absolutely all libraries large and small from the LOC to the personal home shared folder to participate, so that new volumes can be added openly by the populace to the library
4. Encourage uniform metadata standards so volumes are better cataloged and retrieved from all nodes on the library network. Institute rare volume archiving standards so the library doesn’t lose rare content
5. Permit streaming and downloading, recognize they are indistinguishable. Drop the distinction between webcasting libraries of content that stream it and download libraries of content that download for listening, reading and viewing.
6. Leverage low cost technology like P2P software instead of suing these important digital library innovations.
7. Legalize digital copies and distribution of any and all content types to be shared on the library network
8. Allow remixing to occur liberally with a revenue share model for the original creator and the re-mixer, depending on percentage of content used
9. Require participants in the library network to provide a slice of their revenue (like the radio model, like Google’s free music in China, or their tax support in the case of public libraries offering digital services) so tax-supported entities provide a slice of their tax support to artists. Distribute it fairly and with regard for the cost of creating a work (movies get more than newspaper articles). Exempt home libraries because they will be taxed to support the public library system as they are today.

Time is running out. Work on the GDPLN digital library policy must begin. Engagement of the stakeholders with governmental involvement can and must lead to a truly pragmatic and balanced solution as was achieved after the somewhat analogous invention of radio.

I recognize that a process to achieve such a policy will be arduous. It must involve stakeholders. It does disrupt the status quo and rebalance copyright rather fundamentally. But the status quo is broken. Having dwelled on it for a decade I don’t see any better solution to the dilemma presented by the collision of copyright with the open global digital public library network.

Ludas Matyi Online

Fantasztikus elbeszélés

— Az úgy volt, hogy a huszadik század második felében csökkenni kezdett a mozilátogatók száma — mesélte X., akivel én 2018-ban találkoztam, egy jövőbe tett utazásom alkalmával.
A filmesek aggódva figyelték ezt a jelenséget és elhatározták, hogy valamit tenni kell. A Filmesek Világszövetsége több alkalommal összeült és zárt ajtók mögött tárgyalt. A televíziósok megpróbáltak bejutni ezekre a megbeszélésekre, de sikertelenül. A legcsinosabb televíziós kémnők is póruljártak, néhányan pedig átálltak az ellenség oldalára, mert filmszerepet kaptak.
— Egy napon a Filmesek Világszövetsége bejelentette, hogy tizenöt ország közreműködésével filmet készít. A tizenöt ország kormánya megígérte: anyagilag és erkölcsileg támogatja a koprodukciót. A filmesek minden országban statisztákat, ágyúkat, repülőket és csatahajókat kértek és természetesen sok-sok pénzt. A szuper — monstre produkciónak egy főrendezője és tíz rendezője volt; mind készítettek már nagy történelmi filmeket, grandiózus háborús filmeket, tehát óriási gyakorlatuk volt a csapatok irányításában, mozgatásában, a különféle szárazföldi és légi hadműveletekben.
— Három évi előkészítő munka után a főrendező összehívta a vezérkarát, és közölte velük: hajnalban kezdődik a forgatás. A rendezők összeigazították óráikat, aztán mindenki a saját statiszta-hadseregéhez sietett, ahol lelkesítő beszédeket tartották. Hajnali három órakor a filmesek riadót fújtak és elkezdődtek a felvételek, illetve a „Felvétel” elnevezésű nagyszabású hadművelet. Tizenöt országban egyszerre, összehangoltan.
— Reggel nyolc órára a filmesek mind a tizenöt országban elfoglalták a fontosabb kormányépületeket, telefonközpontokat, laktanyákat, vasúti csomópontokat. Mire a hadseregek észbe kaptak, már tehetetlenek voltak: a saját, kölcsönadott ágyúikkal, repülőikkel lőtték, bombázták őket. A statiszták lelkesen harcoltak, mert a napidíj elég magas volt.
Déli tizenkét órakor a harcok lényegében befejeződtek, és a produkció főrendezője közölte a tisztes fegyverszüneti feltételekért könyörgő kormányokkal, hogy a filmesek mind a tizenöt országban átveszik a hatalmat.
— Nemsokára falragaszok jelentek meg, amelyeken felszólították a lakosságot: őrizze meg a nyugalmát és szolgáltassa be a televíziókészülékeket. A készülékeket beszolgáltatták, de a tévés gerilla-csapatok még sokáig ellenálltak, majd visszavonultak a hegyekbe. Harcuk, bár hősies volt,
reménytelennek bizonyult. A filmesek néhány nap alatt felmorzsolták őket.
— A filmrendezők másik intézkedése az volt, hogy letartóztatták minden írót. A Filmesek Világszövetsége közzétette: ezentúl minden filmet a rendező ír meg, tehát az írók fölöslegesek. A költőket nem bántották. A kritikusokat viszont — kevés kivétellel — ismeretlen helyre hurcolták, fekete autókban, az éj leple alatt.
— Néhány nappal később kötelezték a lakosságot, hogy minden este moziba menjenek. Este hét órától éjfélig. Szombat délután öttől hajnali háromig. Élelmiszert csak az kapott, aki fel tudta mutatni a kellő mennyiségű, lebélyegzett mozijegyet. A filmesek ettől kezdve szabadon kísérletezhettek és nem volt ritka a huszonnégy órás, sőt a negyvennyolc órás film sem, sőt egy alkalommal ötszázhetvenkét óra hosszat tartó filmet is vetítettek. A rendre és arra, hogy senki se hagyja el a nézőteret, felfegyverzett jegyszedők ügyeltek. A lakosság ingyen vett részt a filmfelvételeken és a csinos lányoknak sorozóbizottság előtt kellett megjelenni, s ha szükség volt rájuk, SAS-behívót kaptak.
Hogy mi történt aztán, arról már nem tudok, mert az informátorom, X., nem jött el a következő randevúra. Mint később megtudtam, valami nagyon hosszú és nagyon unalmas filmet vetítettek, és ő megpróbált megszökni, de szökés közben agyonlőtték.
Gyorsan visszatértem a XX. századba, hogy figyelmeztessem a világot. No, meg mozijegyem is volt este nyolcra. Egy négyórás koprodukcióhoz, amelyben — az újsághírek szerint — több ezer statiszta szerepel, és állítólag fantasztikus csatajelenetek láthatók benne.
Emberek vigyázzatok!

Mikes György

A Ludas Magazin 1969 augusztus

Economist Debates

Steal these words, copy the ideas and pilfer any profit they provide: the debate has reached a conclusion and the floor has sided in favour of the motion. Around three-quarters of the participants support Professor William Fisher, and believe that existing copyright laws do more harm than good.

Throughout the debate, the margins were largely constant, though support for Professor Justin Hughes, who argued ably against the motion, increased to almost one-third of participants between the opening statements and the rebuttals.

Professor Fisher stressed throughout the debate that the expansion of copyright curtails recombinant creativity: a system designed to encourage expression was captured by a handful of corporate interests and now holds it back. Among his recommendations are reintroducing a registration requirement for copyrighted works, a form of compulsory licensing and differential pricing. Cleverly, he raised these ideas as the debate drew to a close, thereby escaping scrutiny.

Professor Hughes maintained throughout the debate that the production of content was not the crux of copyright’s purpose, but the production of high-quality content, and that existing laws do more good than harm in sparking quality with the filament of incentive. Changes in copyright laws are certainly needed, he acknowledged, yet this hardly condemns the system entirely. Rather, it is hard to look at the explosion of free content on the web and conclude that copyright hampers it.

Meanwhile, in her expert commentary, Jessica Litman of the University of Michigan noted that copyright “intermediaries” like publishers and distributors were needed when the cost of production and distribution was high, but this is no longer so. David Lammy, a British MP who serves as the Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property (a telling title in itself), believes that “copyright needs to confront these challenges and evolve”.

Even if the debate did not compel participants to overturn their convictions, it is fair to say that we have all been forced to reexamine our positions, based on the sharp arguments of the debaters, the wise words from guest contributors and the floor’s thoughtful comments. The Economist joins the floor in thanking all the participants.

Many commentators from the floor wanted copyright scrapped altogether. Often, the argument hinged on the idea that, in practice, it is the distributors of content, not its creators, who profit most from the current set-up. Yet the majority of the floor, regardless of which side one voted for, simply want copyright laws reformed, by striking a new balance between the interests of content owners and the public.

Specifically, the duration of copyright is considered too long; the scope of protections too broad; the legal penalties too dear. How to make these changes in practice has not been fully aired. It is left to be debated, but in another forum.

I’m here to praise the music fanatic who holds down a reasonable if unexciting job, turning in a decent day’s work after spending the night in a recording studio or driving back from a gig in Stoke.It is this kind of musician – dedicated, self-sacrificing, self-disciplined – whose efforts are the lifeblood of a host of vibrant music scenes and who will be least affected by the current turmoil in the music industry. Any money they made was only ever ploughed back into music. Lower revenues will certainly make them dig deeper and sacrifice more for their art, but it will not stop the music.

What the free music revolution threatens is not music per se, but the idea that you have to be a musician full time to be truly creative. You don’t. Too often the commercially viable musician sinks into an effete preciousness that is the death knell of creativity. Being a “full time” musician didn’t seem to spur Axl Rose into making Chinese Democracy any quicker.

It is time that the importance of day job-supported musicians was more widely recognised – for it is they who will ensure that music will survive the death of the music industry.

Epicenter from

Less than 24 hours after the season premiere of Prison Break aired on Fox on Monday, it was downloaded close to one million times, according to TorrentFreak.

Prison Break fans didn’t have to download the show illegally. The show is readily available to stream legitimately on both Hulu and, where viewers have to sit through a few commercial breaks, but they can still watch the entire episode legally.

[Hulu won’t disclose how many people viewed Prison Break on the site on Monday, but the show is one of the top 5 most-popular shows on Hulu today, and it was the most-popular show yesterday. There’s no way of knowing, though, whether the program was watched more on Hulu than it was downloaded illegally.]

The fact that one million people downloaded the show within 24 hours — a little less than one-sixth of the 6.5 million people who watched Prison Break on TV on Monday night — proves, though, that P2P isn’t going away just because there are legal alternatives now.

“This is a group of people who define themselves in part by the technology they use and the application of that technology,” says Robert Rosenberg, president of Insight Research. “Chances are that this is only happening in a defined age group. You’d be hard-pressed to find 60 year-old guys passing this stuff off to their buddies.”

Even if file sharers make up a small slice of the population, the impact is not insignificant. Could networks win these viewers back? The most common complaint about big media companies over the last decade is that they’ve been slow to provide legal alternatives. In this case, however, Fox has gone to great lengths to give viewers an option to watch programs legally online, but die-hard file sharers still aren’t biting.

“I think a lot of the problem is that the content providers have typically been using business models that extend backwards in time. They have not been able to adapt their intellectual property and business processes to the new reality — essentially that all types of information and media are going to find their way on to a network and will be widely distributed,” says Rosenberg. “Look at the music industry. They simply didn’t have a formula for preventing file sharing until Apple taught them how to do it.”

Many legal alternatives could be improved, too, says Eric Garland, CEO of Big Champagne, an online media measurement company. Content providers have been slow to offer legal streaming options in many international markets, and there still aren’t many networks that let users actually download files, which is a bummer for collectors, says Garland.

Also, the networks haven’t necessarily improved upon the experience on pirated sites, so users don’t have much incentive to leave those sites.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” says Garland. “Sites like Mininova or Pirate Bay have been around long before there was Hulu, and why should they stop using a familiar option that works well?”

Wired Science from

But in most of the viral and bacterial world, copying genes and having your own copied is a way of life, one that proceeds smoothly without hindering either party. It’s a fundamental property of microbe- and virus-hood.

“Anything might happen. The virus doesn’t know. It simply does it because it can,” said Koonin. “The ability to do so is simply a byproduct of the ability to replicate DNA.”

Positech Games

A few days ago I posted a simple question on my blog. “Why do people pirate my games?”. It was an honest attempt to get real answers to an important question. I submitted the bog entry to slashdot and the penny arcade forums, and from there it made it to arstechnica, then digg, then bnet and probably a few other places. The response was massive. This is what I found:

Cato Unbound » Blog Archive »

How relevant is it to declare oneself to be “for” or “against” copyright? Neither the stabilization nor the abolition of the copyright system seems within reach. All we see is a seemingly endless assembly line of new extensions to the law being proposed and enacted. The most recent is the proposed “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” (ACTA) [1], to be tabled at next month’s G8 meeting in Tokyo, including a clause known as the “Pirate Bay killer” that would force countries to criminalize services that may facilitate copyright infringement, even if not for profit. This is just one example of how copyright law is mutating into something qualitatively different than what it has been in previous centuries.

| Listening Post from

Radiohead’s “pay what you want” distribution gamble paid-off despite — or perhaps because of — rampant file sharing, according to new analysis from Will Page, chief economist at the MCPS-PRS Alliance, a British rights organization, and Eric Garland, CEO of Big Champagne.

Radiohead’s notorious release strategy for In Rainbows, which allowed fans to download it for an optional price with a valid e-mail address, was considered to have been a failure by some because the album became wildly popular on file sharing networks almost immediately upon its release.

But Garland and Page’s, “In Rainbows, On Torrents” report, slated to be released on the MCPS-PRS website on Friday, indicates that Radiohead’s strategy was a success nonetheless, contributing to the album topping the charts in both the UK and United States and a wildly successful worldwide tour. When it comes to judging whether an album is a success these days, the old metrics just don’t cut it.

The report found that torrent users traded 400,000 copies of In Rainbows on its October 10 release date, and that it was shared a staggering 2.3 million times by November 3 (chart courtesy of BigChampagne). By comparison, albums by Gnarls Barkley, Panic at the Disco and Portishead released around the same time using conventional means were shared less, the most-frequently shared being Panic at the Disco’s album, which was downloaded 157,000 in a week — nearly three times lower than In Rainbows’ peak day of trading).

Many within the music industry (including U2 manager Paul McGuinness) will no doubt view these 2.3 million downloads as sales Radiohead lost by giving the album away in a readily-sharable format. And either way, they represent email addresses that Radiohead failed to add into its fan database.

Will_page_2 Garland and Page admit that server problems on Radiohead’s site almost certainly drove some users to torrent trackers, as did the fact that Radiohead had “signaled” to fans that the album was free. But their most interesting finding about why fans chose to download the album via torrent rather than from is their hypothesis that users adhere to music acquisition venues regardless of other factors.

“The venue hypothesis suggests that even when the price approaches zero, all other things being equal, people are more likely to act habitually (say, using The Pirate Bay) than to break their habit (say, visiting,” reads one section of the report. In other words, people tend to develop habits around the acquisition of music; once they find something that works, they tend to keep using it. As the paper mentions, “The Pirate Bay is a powerful brand with a sterling reputation in the minds of millions of young music fans.”

The hard lesson to the music business here is that it must license venues for music acquisition that fans prefer to file sharing networks or otherwise make the toleration of file sharing part of their business plans. If even Radiohead’s freely available album was torrented 2.3 million times in the first three and a half weeks, how can more traditional offerings successfully clamp-down on file sharing? They can’t, pure and simple.

In addition, official offerings like need not be considered to be in competition with file sharing networks, as hard as that may be for longtime music insiders to comprehend.

“Frequently, music industry professionals suggest that an increase in legitimate sales must necessarily coincide with a commensurate reduction in piracy, as if this were a fact,” says the report. “Yet, the company BigChampagne has made no such consistent observation in nearly a decade of analyzing these data. Rather, it finds that piracy rates follow awareness and interest… The biggest selling albums and songs are nearly always the most widely pirated, regardless of all the ‘anti-piracy’ tactics employed by music companies. Or, to sum up by paraphrasing an earlier argument, ‘popular music is popular everywhere it’s popular.'”

Exactly. All of this torrenting of In Rainbows contributed to the album making such a big impression on a listening public that’s bombarded with an ever-increasing amount of information. Without its album being so widely traded, would Radiohead’s album have shot to the top of the charts? Would their worldwide tour be such a smashing success?

Eric_garland_2 Not necessarily, says the report, and we agree. Applying economic principles to digital music, Garland and Page found that “the challenge of achieving popularity (or attention) when the old rules of scarcity and excludability don’t apply (to information goods) the way they used to, changes the monetization game completely.” And Radiohead clearly won that game, regardless of how many times its album was traded online.

Garland and Page came to the undeniable conclusion that the music industry needs to stop thinking of shared files as lost sales, and start treating them as an aspect of reality upon which they can build part of their businesses.

As for Radiohead, they can rest easy knowing that while their strategy will now come under increased scrutiny by enemies of file sharing within the industry, that by “losing” the battle for the email addresses of those who downloaded their album via bit torrent, they actually won the overall war for the public’s attention — no easy feat, these days.

The report is now available here.


“Piracy hurts open source because open source asks people to help give back and contribute code, but they say, ‘Why should I help? I have Microsoft Office for free,'” Suarez-Potts said.

Around the world, he said, many national governments are realizing that this hurts them, too, because their citizens are then consumers of stolen technology rather than active participants in open-source communities that can help people gain technology skills that benefit workforces and nations.

By cracking down on software piracy, nations around the globe are starting to see that they can help themselves dramatically by encouraging innovation and creativity — as well as job growth and richer economies — through open-source development, he said.

“China wants to create workers who can do this and create and sustain wealth,” rather than just sell pirated software that doesn’t improve the lives of the country’s people, Suarez-Potts said. “We will all benefit if they are creating interesting things.”

Other nations, including India, are making similar discoveries, he said. “They really quite clearly see that they should have their own intellectual ecosystems. China is now embracing open source and is asking how they can work with the international communities; likewise in India and Latin America.”

The agreement between internet service providers, the government, and the music industry to send angry letters to music fans who are downloading free music is a smokescreen, intended to obscure the crisis the record industry is facing.

This agreement has come about as a result of music industry pressure on ISPs who are, after all, facilitating their customers’ free music downloads. If this were an ordinary copyright infringement case, the record companies would put their lawyers onto the ISPs. However, everyone knows that the music industry is using internet sites, particularly the big social networks such as MySpace, to promote their artists.

It is just not in the music industry’s interest to bite the hand of the ISPs, which provide them with access to potential customers. But on the other hand, the industry does have a case against the ISPs – so what is to be done? I imagine some corporate boardroom representing the ISPs shrugged their shoulders and said “well I suppose we could send them a warning letter”. The industry moguls replied “yeah a warning letter – that’ll do it”.

But of course a warning letter won’t do it. Without some kind of legal framework to back it up, it’s nothing more than a gesture. The real problem for the record companies is that the ground is changing beneath them. New technology has made it possible for people to acquire music without going through the traditional route of buying objects in a shop.

Rather than fighting this trend, the industry itself needs to find new methods of collecting royalties. The only real moral argument the industry has that will work with music fans is that the artist should be rewarded financially for providing them with music. Yet everyone knows that historically the record industry has paid artists a fraction of the price paid by the public for albums and singles.

What needs to happen is for the industry to reverse its priorities, put artists to the fore and pay them a larger share of the price in return for their support in the transition to new business models. It is doesn’t take a huge amount of imagination to conceive of other ways of levying royalties where original music is used. The way we get radio in the UK offers two simple examples.

On one hand, we have the BBC service, where for the price of the licence fee you can listen to as much radio as you like. On the other hand, there is commercial radio, which is free at the point-of-use to you, the listener. However, the fact that it is free doesn’t mean the music content is not paid for. Royalties are paid to musicians from the sale of advertising that appears between the songs. Either of these two models could be applied to music.

A licence fee could be paid, allowing you to download as much music as you like, which will be simpler to police as you would need to presumably give your licence number before you download anything. Or sites such as MySpace, which make billions of dollars in advertising revenue without paying for any content whatsoever, could reverse that trend and start paying royalties to musicians and other content providers.

In an ideal world, such royalties or the blanket licence fee would not be paid to music companies themselves but to an independent collection agency that would pay the money directly to artists. The music industry treats the internet as a threat, whereas for artists it gives us an opportunity to get closer to our audience than ever before. We must be very, very careful that we don’t alienate those fans and make it impossible for the next generation of singer-songwriters to have viable careers.

Editor’s Choice | Reuters

The only real solution is to legitimise the peer-to-peer services. Rather than fighting against music sharing, the music industry should issue licenses that allow royalties to be collected every time a song is shared. The snag, of course, is how to generate those royalties in the first place. The slow uptake of music subscription services proves it’s unfeasible to ask people to opt in to paying 10 pounds a month for music.

The Irish Times – Fri, Jul 11, 2008

In this brave new world, the music companies would have to go much further. They would have to permit individual consumers to copy and distribute their artists’ works: effectively making those the customers both the purchaser and the “reseller”. That risks creating a monster: a legal file-sharing network that would challenge their own role as the chief distributor of music, at the same time as eating into sales of their products, such as CD singles and albums.

The recording industry has no choice. It is already faced with that monster and at least by placing a voluntary charge on those who are already sharing their music, it has a chance of benefiting from what is now second nature for many net users. The BPI’s plans to hunt down the file- sharers and exile them to a net-free life is simply a continuation of the strategy of prosecuting their own core markets, and criminalising the technologies that could save them. After 10 years, the rhetoric and the sanctions grow louder, but file-sharing shows no signs of slowing down.

“MERCHANT and pirate were for a long period one and the same person,” wrote Friedrich Nietzsche. “Even today mercantile morality is really nothing but a refinement of piratical morality.” Companies, of course, would strongly disagree with this suggestion. Piracy is generally bad for business. It can undermine sales of legitimate products, deprive a company of its valuable intellectual property and tarnish its brand. Commercial piracy may not be as horrific as the seaborne version off the Horn of Africa (see article). But stealing other people’s R&D, artistic endeavour or even journalism is still theft.

That principle is worth defending. Yet companies have to deal with the real world—and, despite the best efforts of recorded-music companies, luxury-goods firms and software-industry associations, piracy has proved very hard to stop. Given that a certain amount of stealing is going to happen anyway, some companies are turning it to their advantage.

For example, around 20 times as many music tracks are exchanged over the internet on “peer to peer” file-sharing networks as are legitimately sold online or in shops. Statistics about the traffic on file-sharing networks can be useful. They can reveal, for example, the countries where a new singer is most popular, even before his album has been released there. Having initially been reluctant to be seen exploiting this information, record companies are now making use of it (see article). This month BigChampagne, the main music-data analyser, is extending its monitoring service to pirated video, too. Knowing which TV programmes are being most widely passed around online can help broadcasters when negotiating with advertisers or planning schedules.

In other industries, piracy can help to open up new markets. Take software, for instance. Microsoft’s Windows operating system is used on 90% of PCs in China, but most copies are pirated. Officially, the software giant has taken a firm line against piracy. But unofficially, it admits that tolerating piracy of its products has given it huge market share and will boost revenues in the long term, because users stick with Microsoft’s products when they go legit. Clamping down too hard on pirates may also encourage people to switch to free, open-source alternatives. “It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not,” Microsoft’s chairman, Bill Gates, told Fortune magazine last year.

Another example, from agriculture, shows how piracy can literally seed a new market. Farmers in Brazil wanted to use genetically modified (GM) soyabean seeds that had been engineered by Monsanto to be herbicide-tolerant. The government, under pressure from green groups opposed to GM technology, held back. Unable to obtain the GM seeds legitimately, the farmers turned to pirated versions, many of them “Maradona” seeds brought in from Argentina. Eventually the pirated seeds accounted for over a third of Brazil’s soyabean plantings, and in 2005 the government relented and granted approval for the use of GM seeds. Monsanto could then start selling its seeds legitimately in Brazil.
Innovators ahoy

Piracy can also be a source of innovation, if someone takes a product and then modifies it in a popular way. In music unofficial remixes can boost sales of the original work. And in a recent book, “The Pirate’s Dilemma”, Matt Mason gives the example of Nigo, a Japanese designer who took Air Force 1 trainers made by Nike, removed the famous “swoosh” logo, applied his own designs and then sold the resulting shoes in limited editions at $300 a pair under his own label, A Bathing Ape. Instead of suing Nigo, Nike realised that he had spotted a gap in the market. It took a stake in his firm and also launched its own premium “remixes” of its trainers. Mr Mason argues that “the best way to profit from pirates is to copy them.”

That this silver lining exists should not obscure the cloud. Most of the time, companies will decide to combat piracy of their products by sending in the lawyers with all guns blazing. And most of the time that is the right thing to do. But before they rush into action companies should check to see if there is a way for them to turn piracy to their advantage.

Science Journal –

We all bristle at people who put themselves ahead of the common good, whether it is by evading taxes, shirking military service, cheating on bus fares or littering. Many of us will go out of our way to shame, shun or otherwise punish them, researchers have shown. That’s how we foster a community that benefits everyone, even at some cost to ourselves.

Economists analyzing ingredients of the social glue that holds us all together wonder whether that public spirit of rebuke and reward is an innate human value or a byproduct of the particular society in which we live. Until recently, however, they rarely have reached across cultural boundaries to compare how people in disparate communities actually weigh private gain against public good.

In the most sweeping global study yet of cooperation, a team of experimental economists tested university students in 15 countries to see how people contribute to joint ventures and what happens to them when they don’t. The European research team discovered startling differences in how groups around the world react when punishment is handed out for antisocial behavior.
WSJ’s Robert Lee Hotz speaks to Kelsey Hubbard about an important study that looked at how people responded to peer pressure in cooperative ventures across many societies.

In some countries, researchers found, almost no good turn went unpunished. “What kept popping up is this element of retaliation,” said economist Benedikt Herrmann at the U.K.’s University of Nottingham, who reported the experiment this past March in Science. “It took us by surprise.”

Among students in the U.S., Switzerland, China and the U.K., those identified as freeloaders most often took their punishment as a spur to contribute more generously. But in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece and Russia, the freeloaders more often struck back, retaliating against those who punished them, even against those who had given most to everyone’s benefit. It was akin to rapping the knuckles of the helping hand.

To explore cooperation across cultures, Dr. Herrmann and his colleagues recruited 1,120 college students in 16 cities around the globe for a public-good game. The exercise is one of several devised by economists in recent years to distill the complex variables of human behavior into transactions simple enough to be studied under controlled laboratory conditions.

The volunteers played in anonymous groups of four. Each player started with 20 tokens that could be redeemed for cash after 10 rounds. Players could contribute tokens to a common account or keep them all to themselves.

After each round, the pooled funds paid a dividend shared equally by all, even those who didn’t contribute. Previous research shows that a single selfish individual riding on the generosity of others can so irritate other players that contributions soon drop to nothing.

That changes when players can identify and punish those who don’t contribute (in this case, by deducting points that can quickly add up to serious money). Once such peer pressure comes into play, everyone — including the shamed freeloader — starts to chip in.

“Freeloaders are disliked everywhere,” said study co-author Simon Gachter, who studies economic decision-making at Nottingham. “Cooperation always breaks down if people can’t punish.”

The students behaved the same way in all 16 cities until given the chance to punish those taking a free ride on the shared investment. Punishment was done anonymously, and it cost one token to discipline another player.

Among those punished, differences emerged immediately. Students in Seoul, Istanbul, Minsk in Belarus, Samara in Russia, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Athens, and Muscat in Oman were most likely to take revenge by deducting points from other players — and to give up a token themselves to do it.

“They didn’t believe they did anything wrong,” said economist Herbert Gintis at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Institute. And because the spiteful freeloaders had no way of knowing who had punished them, they often took out their ire on those who helped others most, suspecting they must be to blame.

Such a readiness to retaliate, researchers said, reflected relatively lower levels of trust, civic cooperation and the rule of law as measured by social scientists in the World Values Survey, which periodically assesses basic values and beliefs in more than 80 societies. In countries with democratic market economies, peer pressure goaded people to cooperate. Among authoritarian societies or those dominated more by ties of kinship, freeloaders instead lashed out at those who censured them, the researchers found.

“The question is why?” said Harvard political economist Richard Zeckhauser.

No one is sure. The freeloaders might be angry at being trumped by strangers, or be unwilling to share with people they don’t know. They also might believe they are being treated unfairly.

But social appearances and the good opinion of others do regulate our behavior. In the only other major cross-cultural study of this sort, Dr. Gintis and his colleagues several years ago examined 15 primitive societies of farmers, foragers, hunters and nomads in 12 countries, not unlike those in which humanity might have first evolved. The researchers found that these people all cared as much about fairness as the economic outcome of a trade. “They care about the ethical value of what they do,” said Dr. Gintis.

Independent brain-imaging teams in Japan and the U.S. have shown just how valuable approval can be, as they reported in April in Neuron. Researchers at Japan’s National Institute for Psychological Sciences found that when they watched the brain respond to reputation and social status, the excited synapses looked awfully familiar: They were the same ones activated by money.

Studying peer pressure in 15 countries, economist Benedikt Herrmann at the UK’s University of Nottingham reported on “Antisocial Punishment Across Societies”3 in Science.
The researchers also ranked the national responses against the World Values Survey4, which periodically assesses values and cultural changes in societies all over the world.
Searching for the
origins of economic behavior, an international research team studied 15
primitive cultures in 12 countries and reported their findings in
We may be hard-wired to care about social standing, scientists at the US National Institute of Mental Health reported in “Know Your Place: Neural Processing of Social Hierarchy in Humans.”6
At Japan’s National Institute for Psychological Sciences, researchers reported in “Processing of Social and Monetary Rewards in the Human Striatum”7 that reputation activates the same brain areas as money.
Free-market philosopher Adam Smith, author in 1776 of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations8 wrote first in 1759 on praise, blame, ethics and human nature in The Theory of Moral Sentiments9.

– Entertainment on The Huffington Post

After 17 years of running my record label spinART Records, I shut it down. The advent and general adoption of the Internet, digital media and hardware took control of the global music industry away from the record labels and media outlets and handed it to the masses. For the first time in history, through sites like TuneCore, all music creators can choose to be their own record label. There are no longer subjective gatekeepers controlling who gets let “in,” promoted and exposed. The choice is ours. Now, anyone can be famous.

Kevin Kelly   writes about needing only 1000 true fans to make a living as an artist. Just to note: I was writing about this in 2006.

Karl Sigfrid

Decriminalizing all non-commercial file sharing and forcing the market to adapt is not just the best solution. It’s the only solution, unless we want an ever more extensive control of what citizens do on the Internet. Politicians who play for the antipiracy team should be aware that they have allied themselves with a special interest that is never satisfied and that will always demand that we take additional steps toward the ultimate control state. Today they want to transform the Internet Service Providers into an online police force, and the Antipiracy Bureau wants the authority for themselves to extract the identities of file sharers. Then they can drag the 15-year-old girl who downloaded a Britney Spears song to civil court and sue her.

Los Angeles Times

A few days ago I came across an Op-Ed submission that called for file sharing to be decriminalized. The editors here decided not to run it, but it intrigued me for a couple of reasons. First, the author, Karl Sigfrid, is a member of the Swedish Parliament from the Moderate party — a pro-business party that’s akin to this country’s Libertarians (except in Sweden they’re more than just a fringe group). Second, although he covered much of the same ground earlier this year in a Swedish paper, Sigfrid’s new piece added another provocative contention: that unauthorized downloading isn’t actually theft. print article


Readers of these columns have heard me lament 
in the past about the fact that intellectual property policy is an
“evidence-free zone”.  It is the trickiest of regulatory matters to get
the right level of intellectual property protection – giving incentives
to creators and distributors, yet not overly burdening future
innovators or imposing unnecessary monopoly prices on
consumers. Getting this balance right should be a matter of empiricism,
not faith. We do, for example, have good evidence about what kind of
policies on database rights and on state generated data 
– such as maps, traffic and weather information – actually work
best. In each case, the European Union has picked a plausible  position
– stronger rights will mean more production and innovation – and seen
it convincingly falsified through empirical analysis.

The same is true with the length of our copyright term. Brilliant economists, including five Nobel laureates,
have pointed out that our current copyright terms are far too long. We
extend copyright long beyond the time necessary to provide incentives
to create and distribute. One recent economic study suggests that the
optimal term is 15 years.  Others have
recommended even shorter terms. I would favour 28 years, renewable for
another 28 if the author desires. We give life plus 70. Worse, since as
much as 98 per cent of all copyrighted material is currently commercially unavailable
that means we lock up most of our culture just at the moment when we
could have been digitising it and putting it on the web for the world
to share. A system that required renewal for a modest fee in order to
keep the copyright would solve these problems. We have signed treaties
that forbid us from doing anything so sensible. 

At the end of last year, I did note a ray of hope.
In two cases, both in Europe, policymakers had actually looked at
evidence in order to decide what to do! The Commission studied the EU
database market to see if the database right was doing any good.  It was not. The UK government commissioned the Gowers Review
of intellectual property policy to see whether we should extend the
term of sound recordings retrospectively – a nice example of suggesting the price should be renegotiated upwards after the work was already done.
Having already  “paid” for the recording through 50 years of
protection, consumers were now to be forced to pay again for another 20
years. The Gowers Review carefully analysed the evidence, and
commissioned a really excellent economic study
that is occasionally almost readable by ordinary mortals. They came to
the same conclusion every single disinterested academic policy review
has  come to: “Policymakers should adopt the principle that the term
and scope of protection for IP rights should not be altered

But it was not to be. Faced with a tidal wave
of pressure by publishers of databases, who liked their monopolies very
much, thank you, the Commission shamefully gave in and left the
directive in place. While the British government showed more spine
on sound recordings, the European Commission has now announced that it
thinks the copyright over sound recordings should be extended to 95
years! (70 was not enough.) Charlie McCreevy,
the internal market commissioner, has declared that this will harmonise
protection: composers already get the longer term.  He also argues that
consumers will not pay higher prices as a result, though the best empirical study on
works out of copyright shows exactly the reverse. That is the point of
intellectual property rights, after all.  (The Gowers Review had
carefully considered and rejected the argument that extension would
warm the firesides of many a nameless and superannuated session
musician. Because of the music industry’s rapacious contracts, the vast
majority of the benefits will flow directly to the corporations that
lobbied for it.)

Mr McCreevy’s harmonisation argument –
appropriate given the subject – is worth thinking through. Political
scientists tell us that there are types of issues where we can almost
guarantee that the state will get things wrong; cases where the
benefits of some proposed policy go to a small and well-organised lobby
of repeat players while the much larger costs fall on a wider and less
well informed public. That is why it is so important to have policies
that are justified with facts rather than faith. We can hope that a few
policymakers who actually believe in the public interest will look at
the evidence and hold the line. But now comes the harmonisation

In every capital in the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development, lobbyists agitate for intellectual
property rights that are wider, deeper and above all, longer.
Remember, in intellectual property we only ever harmonise upwards. (Mr
McCreevy did not consider for a moment the idea that we should reduce
the protection for compositions to match that of sound
recordings.) Intellectual property only harmonises to the highest level
of protection. What that means is that the lobbyists only need to win
once, in one country. Then they will use the seductive language of
harmonisation to bring everyone else into line internationally. And
then? The process begins again. “I hear Mexico has an even longer
copyright term. Fairness demands that we harmonise with that!”  The
band plays on – but always higher, higher –  we  long ago stopped
looking at the score. 

 James Boyle is William Neal Reynolds professor of law at Duke Law School and co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. His new book, The Public Domain: An Environmentalism for Information, will be published this autumn by Yale University Press

Digital Music News

How should paid downloads be priced? Apple believes in a uniform pricing scheme, majors want a tiered structure, and most music fans want everything for free. Somewhere in-between lies Amie Street, a company that sets download pricing based on user demand.

That means that songs start at free, and ramp to 98-cents if the demand is great enough. But is the model working? Just recently, the group announced the addition of catalog from Beggars Group, Matador Records, and Polyvinyl Recording Co. The list of bands includes Interpol, Sigur Ros, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Devendra Banhart, Belle and Sebastian, Architecture in Helsinki, and other indie luminaries.

But it remains unclear if the sales story is developing, at least at this stage of the game. In a discussion Monday, company cofounder and chief marketing officer Joshua Boltuch declined to offer sales figures or average pricing data. Boltuch did point to strong album purchasing, and an album-to-single sales ratio of 1:1. “We attribute this incredible ratio to our fan-driven pricing model finding the best market price for albums, and therefore maximizing sales,” Boltuch explained.

(June 3, 2005). Bridgeport Music, Inc., et al. v. Dimension Films, et al.: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. more… (2007). Digital Music Report 2006: IFPI. more…

(2006). The Economy of Culture in Europe: KEA European Affairs; Media Group (Turku School of Economics); MKW Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH. more…, more…, more…, more…, more…, more…, more…, more…, more…, more…

(Mai 2005). Etude D’impact D’une Remuneration Alternative Sur Les Echanges Peer To Peer: UFC – Que Choisir. more…

(March 8, 2006). An Examination of Consumer Satisfaction With Commercial Radio in Canada (Vol. 1): Strategic Inc. more…

(2006/01/20). File-sharing ‘not cut by courts’, BBC. more…

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But some labels will disappear, as the roles they used to play get chopped up and delivered by more thrifty services. In a recent conversation I had with Brian Eno (who is producing the next Coldplay album and writing with U2), he was enthusiastic about I Think Music — an online network of indie bands, fans, and stores — and pessimistic about the future of traditional labels. “Structurally, they’re much too large,” Eno said. “And they’re entirely on the defensive now. The only idea they have is that they can give you a big advance — which is still attractive to a lot of young bands just starting out. But that’s all they represent now: capital.”

Center for Social Media at American University

When college kids make mashups of Hollywood movies, are they violating the law? Not necessarily, according to the latest study on copyright and creativity from the Center and American University’s Washington College of Law.

The study, Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video, by Center director Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, co-director of the law school’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, shows that many uses of copyrighted material in today’s online videos are eligible for fair use consideration. The study points to a wide variety of practices—satire, parody, negative and positive commentary, discussion-triggers, illustration, diaries, archiving and of course, pastiche or collage (remixes and mashups)—all of which could be legal in some circumstances.

Wolfe’s Den Blog – InformationWeek

Innocent consumers are being bothered by another round of the record industry behaving badly, via more lawsuits and anti-copying threats. This time, though, I’ve got a solution. We should do what we do to children who misbehave: Take away their privileges. Here’s the deal.

| Mark Cuban’s blog – CNET Blogs

I’m not a Comcast customer. I happen to get service from Verizon, ATT and Time Warner at various locations where I pay for internet service.

If I was a Comcast customer, I would tell them, as I am now telling all the services I am a customer of:


As a consumer, I want my internet experience to be as fast as possible. The last thing I want slowing my internet service down are P2P freeloaders. Thats right, P2P content distributors are nothing more than freeloaders. The only person/organization that benefits from P2P usage are those that are trying to distribute content and want to distribute it on someone else’s bandwidth dime.

Does anyone really think its free ? That all the bandwidth consumed with content being distributed by P2P isn’t being paid for by someone ? That bandwidth is being paid for by consumers. Consumers who pay for personal, not commercial applications. When consumers provide their bandwidth to assist commercial applications, they are subsidizing those commercial applications which if it isn’t already, should be against an ISPs terms of service.

Thats not to say there isnt a place for P2P. There is. P2P is probably the least efficient means of distributing content in the last mile. Comcast, Time Warner, etc should charge a premium to those users who want to act as a seed and relay for P2P traffic. After all, that is why P2P is used, right ? For content distributors to avoid significant bandwidth and hosting charges. That makes it commercial traffic far more often than not. So make them pay commercial rates.

That will stop P2P dead in its tracks. P2P isnt so good that people will use it when they have to pay for all the bandwidth it consumes. It will die a quick death. That will speed up my internet connection.

thats a good thing.

So hang in there Comcast


Google Public Policy Blog:

Some forms of censorship are entirely justifiable: the worldwide prohibitions on child pornography and copyright infringement, for example. Others, however, are overbroad and unwarranted. When a government blocks the entire YouTube service due to a handful of user-generated videos that violate local sensibilities –- despite our willingness to IP-block illegal videos from that country –- it affects us as a non-tariff trade barrier.


OiNK didn’t carry any content, its users did. Taking out the OiNK site didn’t remove a single song from any of OiNK’s users libraries and they are taking their collections with them as they migrate to other sites, ready to share another day.


In a few short years, the aggressive push of technology combined with the arrogant response from the record industry has rapidly worn away all of my noble intentions of clinging to the old system, and has now pushed me into full-on dissent. I find myself fully immersed in digital music, almost never buying CDs, and fully against the methods of the major record labels and the RIAA. And I think it would do the music industry a lot of good to pay attention to why – because I’m just one of millions, and there will be millions more in the years to come. And it could have happened very, very differently.


There’s an interesting article expected to be published in a forthcoming issue of Windows Middle East magazine that argues that film licensing restrictions have made illegal file-sharing in the Middle East the only real option with which to acquire movies online.

Apparently due to film licensing restrictions, which tend to cover distinct geographical regions – most often the US and Europe – Western films such as Pulp Fiction or Shrek 3 cannot currently be licensed for online distribution to end users in the Middle East, meaning internet surfers here simply cannot download content legally online.

“Due to the paid-for movie download market still being in its infancy, and as such online distribution licenses only covering the so-called ‘developed’ markets, net users here in this region don’t currently have a moral, legal means of paying to download their favorite films,” commented Matt Wade, the editor of Windows Middle East.

The Windows Middle East team discovered therefore that the only option available to film buffs who are looking to download movie content there is to use illegally use P2P and file-sharing software.

For all the reports the MPAA throws around about “calculated” losses due to piracy, it’s reports like this that make me me even more suspect of their conclusions. Some countries and regions lack true consumer choice and some of the viewing options afforded other countries like the US, and so to say that the blame falls entirely on them for not being able to see a movie on the MPAA’s terms is just silly.

If the MPAA is serious about fighting piracy then it has to learn what the RIAA still can’t figure out – give consumers what they want! Has capitalism become that difficult?

I super interesting talk with the late Jack Valenti from 2004. Well worth a read (or download the audio version if you like).


Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), will discuss the impact of digital technology on the entertainment industry. Drawing on his experience as an advocate for major producers and distributors of entertainment programming for television, cable, home video, he will discuss the promise and the dangers of emerging technologies for the production and distribution of films and TV shows.

 Компьютерра-Онлайн– Kompyuterra-Onlayn

Writer Sergei Kuznetsov has published an open letter about the scandal over the web.
Recall that in early April, a company KM Zone “, which reportedly has the exclusive right to publish books on the Internet hundreds of authors, filed suit against several libraries, including the famous” Library collection. “
The total claims amount to half a million dollars.
“All my life stood for freedom and the free distribution of texts on the Internet. I defended this principle when he was a journalist, and continue to defend, as I have already got three of the book.
I think that any novel must sooner or later be available on the Web, just like a book becomes available in the library.
I believe that presenting the text books on the Internet is not a “publication” in the legal sense (and the court case against Sorokin Chernov, was in my view).
I am convinced that a book in the library collection, and other such meetings are only for the benefit of writers (and many writers from Victor Pelevin to Boris Strugatskogo – this share my position).
I am sure that one reader, who read the book on-screen or in print, are those few who will go and buy it, read the first few chapters.
I know quite a few examples of commercially successful books, the texts of which are in the public domain.
Suffice it to mention Boris Akunina : Fandorine of all novels are in the Library collection, although they occupy the first place in the ratings, and even sales of conventional online shopping.
I am proud that collections in the Russian Internet are disproportionately similar foreign online libraries.
I am pleased that as another proof that Russia and in the electronic age is literary, book country.
I am pleased to think that the tradition of the Soviet samizdat still alive.
I said it when he was a journalist and still say this now : The writer is not the enemy.
It is the principle of free access to books on the Web remains inviolate.
Perhaps if my novel was something on the Internet a few days after the paper, I would like to ask the owner of the site at the time pripryatat it, but in any case, I would not accept this man as a “pirate”, but as a fan, which I can only be grateful for the publicity of I wrote.
All of this, of course, applies only to be free of charge : I know that someone is taking money for online access to my books, I have tried to stop this.
That is why I was so unhappy history with
As we know, this site will not only raise money for access, but drove on the library collection, which published “Amphora” prohibited publication of his books online.
Apparently as a banned, “library collection” to anyone.
I submitted that the authors’ Amfory “that have existed at the time to deploy their books on the Web, will be forced to accept the fact that law-abiding Moshkov removes them from the text of a library.
Fortunately, followed by the explanation that “Amphora” would not prevent the authors to place their text, just the mere publication states that it does not transfer these rights.
As for me, personally, signing their copyright treaties, I am always careful not to transfer the rights to publish in computer networks.
“Amphora” has been in this situation at an altitude : Other publishers may in fact be derived from the digital library books.
I know that many writers share my views on copyright in the Internet.
Perhaps they have already transferred their rights to electronic publication of its publishers.
Treaty hindsight is not correct, but the new books and new contracts.
Therefore, I appeal to my colleagues who believe in the free flow of information on the Internet, to the dozens of writers who have already agreed Maxim Moshkovu to publish his books.
Friends and colleagues!
Make publishers the folly of bans on the publication of books on the Web!
Failing this, still do not convey the right to publish on the Internet, transfer to computer networks, the right of communication to the public by wire, and so on.
These rights are not needed and publishers, they are still unable to reap profits from them.
At the time, we voluntarily gave Maxim Moshkovu right to publish our books on the Web, do we get them back to the first desire of our publishers?
If you support the idea of free flow of information on the Internet, to support its case.
This win, you win your reader will win Russian literature. “

(Traslated from Russian by Google)


In the end, nobody really knows what effects copyright infringement has on a movie’s earning potential, said Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. Zittrain does, however, see one benefit from the controversy.

“The real benefit of this kind of leakage,” Zittrain said, “is that it pressures Hollywood to think outside of the box instead of hoping the Internet will just go away.”

“we believe that not every song, not every artist, not every album, is created equal.” – Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman, Warner Music Group

Shirky: File-sharing Goes Social

Small amounts of social file-sharing, by sending files as email attachments or uploading them to personal web servers, have always co-existed with the purpose-built file-sharing networks, but the two patterns may fuse as a result of the Crush the Connectors strategy. If that transition happens on a large scale, what might the future look like?

Most file-sharing would go on in groups from a half dozen to a few dozen — small enough that every member can know every other member by reputation. Most file-sharing would take place in the sorts of encrypted workspaces designed for business but adapted for this sort of social activity. Some users would be members of more than one space, thus linking several cells of users. The system would be far less densely interconnected than Kazaa or Gnutella are today, but would be more tightly connected than a simple set of social cells operating in isolation.

It’s not clear whether this would be good news or bad news for the RIAA. There are obviously several reasons to think it might be bad news: file-sharing would take place in spaces that would be much harder to inspect or penetrate; the lowered efficiency would also mean fewer high-yield targets for legal action; and the use of tools by groups that knew one another might make prosecution more difficult, because copyright law has often indemnified some types of non-commercial sharing among friends (e.g. the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992).

Interactivist Info Exchange | “Pirate Autonomies”

Autonomous communications systems require three functional elements: the means of production, transmission facilities and informational raw materials. The spread of the commodity PC has taken care of the first. The second has been confronted through innovative digital techniques — peer to peer [p2p] networks to pool bandwidth and streaming technologies — and through the illegal occupation of the airwaves by pirate radios and more recently street televisions [Telestreet], and in some countries through public cable access and even independent satellite broadcasting initiatives [DeepDish TV, NoWarTV, Global Radio].

The last element has proven the most challenging as access to the audio-visual lexicon that can engage a wider public is constrained by a system of property rights — copyrights and trademarks — that denies the possibility of recycling the works of others — whether to convey our argument or contest that of another.

The end of the copyright system

If I had been asked thirty years ago what I would become, what I would do on my 61st birthday, i.e., today, I would have predicted many things: grandchildren, Lake Balaton, maybe even death, but I would never have thought I would spend the occasion alone, in prison, writing a diary. Imprisoned for violating copyright, for the possession and use of age-old music and movies without permission.

Read the rest of this entry »


It’s same kind of situation with this mysterious number that cracks the DVD encryption. First of all, nobody, myself included, knows what to do with the code. It is practically useless.
Nobody, myself included, knows what to do with the DVD code. It is practically useless.
If the lawyers did nothing, it would have languished as a curiosity with perhaps a few crackers developing some software with it. The end result would be a few cracked copies of DVDs running on a few computers here and there.
Because of the lawyers and the nasty letters, now everyone online knows how important this number must be. Boom! Now users get to work on it.
Heck of a job, lawyers.
Investors should be aware of the overall dangers the legal profession present to companies, and how its current and generalized naiveté can sink fortunes overnight. While I know of no corporation that has been bankrupted by this sort of fiasco, it will happen eventually if lawyers doesn’t catch up with the times.
Or perhaps some executives should think for themselves.

Michael Geist – U.S. Copyright Report More Rhetoric Than Reality

[The] differences between the U.S. and Canadian economies – the U.S. is a major exporter of cultural products and has therefore unsurprisingly made stronger copyright protection a core element of its trade strategy while Canada is a net importer of cultural products with a billion dollar annual culture deficit – means that U.S.-backed reforms may do more harm than good.

Two Hungarian music lover/journalist/artist from the Hungarian language Quart music blog tried to purchase two songs they recently reviewed: an Arcade Fire album and an LCD Sound System album from various online services. The whole article is here in Hungarian, I try to sum up their experiences in English:

The iTunes store doesn’t accept Hungarian bank-cards. This option is out.

Huge catalog of indie records, but sadly nothing from the big 4, so no Universal distributed Arcade Fire and no Warner distributed LCD.

Rhapsody, Napster
They don’t accept Hungarian bank-cards either.

Zune Marketplace
Zune is not sold in Hungray.

Sony Connect
The songs are tied to Sony devices, which they do not own.

Yahoo! Music Jukebox
This service had serious performance problems, after 20 minutes of trying and several complete freezes they have given up trying.
Perfect service, great prices, but (percieved as?) illegal, and they wanted to play by the rules.
Great service, but neither of the desired bands are in the catalog. So they have bought something else, in mp3.

Audio Lunchbox
Like eMusic.
This Hungarian service is run by the collecting society of performing artists. For little more than 0.50 USD one can buy songs from Hungarian performers. Works great, the price is right, through the catalog needs some expansion.
Half a million songs in this Hungarian music store, but no LCD or Arcade Fire. Expensive and wma-bound.

T-Online Zeneáruház
The first service where they could find at least a song from the new LCD album. But this is the last good thing that can be said about this service: expensive, wma-bound, extremely user-unfriendly.
Small, but friendly store run by CLS records. No AF or LCD.

So at the end of the day, instead of buying two full albums, preferably in mp3 format, they ended up having only one song in wma. What do music companies think, what will Hungarian potential music buyers do when they realize that even though they are part of the European Union, even though they are willing to pay for music, all they experience is the utter failure of the market?

I would really appreciate if you could share your experiences with us here about how y

Michael Geist – The Unintended Consequences of Rogers’ Packet Shaping

For the past 18 months, it has been open secret that Rogers engages in packet shaping, conduct that limits the amount of available bandwidth for certain services such as peer-to-peer file sharing applications. Rogers denied the practice at first, but effectively acknowledged it in late 2005. Net neutrality advocates regularly point to traffic shaping as a concern since they fear that Rogers could limit bandwidth to competing content or services. In response to the packet shaping approach, many file sharing applications now employ encryption to make it difficult to detect the contents of data packets. This has led to a technical “cat and mouse” game, with Rogers now one of the only ISPs in the world to simply degrade encrypted traffic.

VPN networks, any SSL encoded traffic (including your mail service), and privacy are the victims. See the next post to put this news into context.

Commenting the WSJ article, FindLaw’s Marci Hamilton discusses what should be done with the underground torrent trackers and guerrilla libraries. She has a very dangerous idea: controlling the data flow on the internet to filter not only the usual suspects like child predators, child accessible porn sites, but infringing content (classified as someone’s property that is being used without their permission) as well – because “it is the American way”. But why stop there Marci? If you agree with the content industry policing my internet traffic, and yours and every other American’s, then you sure agree with allowing the Church of Scientology, Dow chemical, the DoD, Halliburton, Senate members, who oversee the page-program and Diebold to do the same and prevent us from accessing things they wish to hide from us. I am sure as hell that lots of people want to control information they believe its theirs. I wish you lived just a few month in a in a dictatorship where there was a near total control of information flows, so you knew what you are talking about. Because what you propose seems to me a Stalinist way more than anything else.

Yahoo’s pathetic face-saving concerning their Chinese failure should serve you as a stark warning:

“Yahoo! is distressed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the internet. We call on the US Department of State to continue making this issue of free expression a priority in bilateral and multilateral forums with the Chinese, as well as through other tools of trade and diplomacy, in order to help secure the freedom of these dissidents.

We have not had time to review and analyse the lawsuit being filed today, and so it is premature for us to comment on the specifics of this case.

However, the concerns raised about the Chinese government compelling companies to follow Chinese law and disclose user information are not new. Companies doing business in China must comply with Chinese law or its local employees could be faced with civil and criminal penalties.

We believe deeply in human rights, and as a company built on openness, we strongly support free expression and privacy globally. Yahoo! has worked in different ways to address issues that arise at the intersection of human rights and technology. We’ve engaged formally with other information, communications, and technology companies, human rights organizations, the U.S. government, academic institutions, and socially responsible investors on initiatives to promote free expression and privacy. We’re committed to remaining actively involved in exploring new approaches to protect and promote human rights globally.” (via The Register)

Sure. Thanks. I would rather opt for an internet infrastructure where no private companies or governments can peep into my communication.

FindLaw’s Writ – Hamilton:

It took lawsuits and threats to universities to bring file-sharing sites like the early Napster somewhat under control, and it will doubtless take similar measures here. No doubt, these measures will be at least somewhat effective: Once any potential advertisers understand the illegal nature of the service they are supporting, and their own possible legal exposure, they are likely to take their dollars elsewhere.

On the other hand, users may still end up being directly charged – or voluntarily paying to keep the sites afloat, as sometimes occurs with popular blogs. In addition, the site creators may continue to work onward for the sheer thrill of lawbreaking and prestige within their communities.

In sum, the video guerillas are engaging in blatant contributory infringement — and that justifies shutting down their sites. But how? When one site closes, another may open soon after. Enforcement remains very expensive for the copyright owners – and that is a serious problem.

There is, however, at least a silver lining here. It is in everyone’s interest to encourage the wealthy television and motion picture industries to research technological means of setting up effective “fences” and “alarms” on the Internet. Instead of chasing infringers, we need better means of preventing poaching in the first place.

After all, we will not have creative and original works of art – such as television shows and movies worthy of copying — unless those investing in them can ensure a return on their investment. Moreover, “fences,” “alarms,” and tracking devices have important side-benefits, too: They can be used to protect our children, prevent predation or catch predators, and shut down child-accessible pornography sites. The copyright industry has an opportunity here to protect its own wealth, which is the American way, but in so doing, it can also contribute to the greater safety of every American.

P.B. Hugenholtz, M.M.M. van Eechoud, S.J. van Gompel et al., from U. of Amsterdam, Institute of Information Law have published their report to the European Commission on The Recasting of Copyright & Related Rights for the Knowledge Economy.

In the document among other topics they discuss the problem of term extension for sound recordings, which in Europe is limited in 50 years. In unison with the UK comissioned Gowers Report they find no reason to extend the term.

They also address the problem of p2p piracy and conclude (rightly) that the reason behind infringing individual behavior is not the lack of knowledge about copyright, but the copynorms that diverge from what the law thinks about rightful use. As a solution they argue for inviting users to the bargaining table instead of strengthening enforcement:

“Given the fact that copyright (non)conforming behaviour seems largely influenced by social norms and rational/economic considerations, it would appear that European institutions have limited options to help compliance to copyright law. Consistently seeking input from stakeholders that represent consumers in the policy making process may contribute to a balanced end result, which in turn can lead to a better acceptance of and adherence to copyright norms. But the stakeholders themselves –industry and consumers alike– are clearly best positioned to influence acceptance, for instance through the development of more consumer-friendly business models and informative campaigns, including initiatives like standardised labelling of product features on playability.”


Megjelent a MOKK kötetek közül az első, Halácsy, Vályi kollégák és Barry Wellman szerkesztésében: Hatalom a mobil tömegek kezében. Benne számos, magyarul először megjelenő alapszöveg arról, hogy a technológia által kezünkbe kapott lehetőségek hogyan alakítják át a társadalom, politika, gazdaság jól ismert kereteit. A számos kiváló szöveg között a sajátom is.

A bemutatóra készült a következő videokommentárom:

I am researching for my talk to be delivered to the International Intellectual Property Program at Chicago-Kent Law School.

This is how I have found what I believe might be the real message of Hollywood to its customers. It is not the oft quoted rant of Jack Valenti about the Boston strangler, but something screenwriters, producers, actors, directors and the rest have to say to the millions of people worldwide.

Perhaps on the rare occasion,
pursuing the right course…
…demands an act of piracy…

Piracy itself can be
the right course?

Excerpt from the movie The Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl.

For the (not so) rare occasions where piracy can be the right course see:
Bodo Balazs: Robin Hood Digital

I had an AHAAA moment last night reading Martha Woodmansee’s „ The Author, Art, and the Market”. She wrote „ As my sketch of writers’ struggles suggests, eighteenth-century Germany found itself in a transitional phase between the limited patronage of an aristocratic age and the democratic patronage of the marketplace. With the growth of a middle class, demand for reading material increased steadily, enticing writers to try to earn a livelihood from the sale of their writings to a buying public. But most were doomed to be disappointed, for the requisite legal, economic, and political arrangements and institutions were not yet in place to support the large number of writers who came forward. What they encountered were the remnants o fan earlier social order.” (p 41-42)

This made me think about the current imbalance between the p2p technologies, the existing intellectual property regimes, and economic frameworks of culture distribution inherited from the period Woodmansee describes. I have always thought of this imbalance as a relationship between law and technology, or economics and technology.

I was wrong.

It is an imbalance between a social practice and a legal-economic framework. Technology has not created that social practice, it simply revealed it, just like a pair of glasses is able to reveal the sharp lines and objects of the world to a short-sighted person. The world, crisp and clear is there, but without the relevant technology we were not able to see, not to mention recognize it.

We should not forget, that p2p file-sharing technology is one of the very few inventions that did not need the slightest effort to propagate it. There was no money and time spent on manufacturing a demand, there was no need to advertise, sell it, no smart campaigns, no exact targeting was needed. It fitted naturally and seamlessly to an existing need in all of us. If this is true, than the question is no longer whether we can bend the technology to the current legal-economic framework, or vice versa, or if there is a compromise between these two. Because one needs to change the underlying social need to curb piracy, the need to have instant access to _everything_, at the lowest price possible, from people who think the same.

Every effort that does not address this need is doomed to fail: if you take away the glasses from someone who had the few moments of clear vision will do everything he can to get out of the blurry shadows again.

BBC NEWS | Technology |

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, an association that brings together US lobby groups representing the movie, music, software, and publisher industries, last week delivered its annual submission to the US government featuring its views on the inadequacy of intellectual property protection around the world.

The report frequently serves as a blueprint for the US Trade Representative’s Section 301 Report, a government-mandated annual report that carries the threat of trade barriers for countries that fail to meet the US standard of IP protection.

The IIPA submission generated considerable media attention, with the international media focusing on the state of IP protection in Russia and China, while national media in Canada, Thailand, and Taiwan broadcast dire warnings about the consequences of falling on the wrong side of US lobby groups.

While the UK was spared inclusion on this year’s list, what is most noteworthy about the IIPA effort is that dozens of countries – indeed most of the major global economies in the developed and developing world – are singled out for criticism.

The IIPA recommendations are designed to highlight the inadequacies of IP protection around the world, yet the lobby group ultimately shines the spotlight on how US copyright policy has become out-of-touch and isolated from much of the rest of the globe.

The IIPA criticisms fall into three broad categories. First, the lobby group is very critical of any country that does not follow the US model for implementing the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Internet Treaties.

Those treaties, which create legal protection for technological protection measures, have generated enormous controversy with many experts expressing concern about their impact on consumer rights, privacy, free speech, and security research.

The map has closed, there is nowhere left to go.

There is no utopia, not a radical, not even a moderate one. There are no more drugs left to experiment with, no more New Left ideas of egalitarianism,  there are no more untested marxist theories, no undiscovered Eastern religions.

Our parents have tried it all and they have failed miserably. All utopias, all ideas, all dissenting voices, all the radical otherness, all their best efforts have led us here.

Where our ideal of uttermost freedom manifests itself in the unrestricted right to share the latest hollywood movies. Where our most courageous secretly mix two songs together.

First it was “Rip! Mix! and Burn!”

Now it is simply just “Burn!” It is the second time in a few weeks when an artist is caught “red-handed” using, remixing, appropriating another artist’s work. Last December Shepard Fairey aka Obey was blamed for borrowing an image from the public domain, now rapper Timbaland is caught “stealing” from another artist.
What’s disturbing is not the cases themselves. Anyone with an average visual literacy knows that Fairey works from whatever he finds and places his works back to the urban visual fabric. Also the name Timbaland that plays with the brand Timberland hints a tendency to borrow. These people do what they are supposed to do: low-level cultural recycling. (I don’t mean this as something negative or worthless. On the contrary: without maggots the whole food-chain would collapse. Inspiration works in mysterious ways.)

What’s disturbing is how the public discussions around these news assess such artistic practices. I do not know those people who participate on these fora. Based on the nicknames and the quality of the arguments it seems many of them are very young and inexperienced. Despite (or rather because?) of this, they seem to be confident using arguments that echo the rhetoric and arguments of RIAA lawyers rather than the arguments of remix culture advocates or artists from Duchamp to George Clinton.
I am afraid that the digital collage-culture, the read-write culture Lessig talks about is endangered not by the direct actions of the content industries, but by their indirect effect on how the next generation thinks about such issues. IP lawsuits get wide coverage in the mainstream media, and as the YouTube download statistics show in the online networks as well. I can only wonder if the cross-referential, inter-textual nature of culture -when it gets mentioned in art history classes or R&B magazines- is also as strong a signal. In courts aesthetic arguments or artistic tradition have less weight than legal arguments, and even if they do get considered, fair use victories, decisions on the scope of fair quotation (Thx Aniko!) get much less popular attention than piracy cases. What news, what kind of pressures shape the minds and norms of the ne(x)t generation? Is everyone of them, who now cry thief, innocent in downloading copyrighted material from the net, using downloaded pictures in their school papers, using cracked software? And if -as I suspect- they aren’t, what kind of standards are consolidating right before our eyes?

Skimming through the thousands of posts it seems that the most serious accusation or rap, the most uncool thing to do is to rip-off another artist. The rip-off can be financial, it can mean the lack of giving proper credits or it can mean not asking for permission. It is associated with a lack of creativity and originality on one hand and exploitation on the other. What is originality, what is creativity? What does “standing on the shoulder of giants” really mean? This debate is at least three centuries old and no end of it can be seen. I do not know if either giving credit, asking for permission or sharing revenues could or should be universal norms. But I am sure that these norms should not apply only to those who are financially successful.

Few arguments from this rich debate enter into the popular discourse, the judgment seem to come more from the gut than from anything else. But gut-reactions are reflexes not reflected upon, imprinted by repeated stimuli (think Pavlov). Bhattacharjee et al. may not have been able to show strong causal connection between legal threats and the level of file-sharing in their article (Bhattacharjee Sudip, Gopal Ram D, Lertwachara Kaveepan, Marsden James R. (2006): Impact Of Legal Threats On Online Music Sharing Activity: An Analysis Of Music Industry Legal Actions, The Journal of Law and Economics, vol. XLIX), but there may be an effect after all, even if a more subtle one and reaching not necessarily the desired aim. Instead of curbing file-sharing it changes how we think about the rules governing creative expression.

If mix, and remix, appropriation, quotation, hommage, collage and all the rest -call it the individualization of the commonplace- becomes uncool, guess what we are left with. Originality? Guess again. 

I am preparing for a meeting with Howard Rheingold, and on his site I have found this article. It is relaitvely old (hahaha: it was written in 2004), but it is new in the sense that it frames the question of piracy not as a legal or economic problem but a cultural one.

Ian Condry:Cultures of Music Piracy: An Ethnographic Comparison of the US and Japan

I am buffled not by the simplicity of such an idea, but the lack of it in current discourse. Condry compares US and Japanese attitudes towards copying and notes:

“What is striking is that the contrast is less one of ‘Japanese culture’ being different

from ‘American culture’ but that American and Japanese fans share many

attitudes, while the responses of the Japanese business community differs

markedly from those in the US.”

“Taruishi and others in the music business place at least some of blame for
consumer copying on the recording industry for styles of promotion that
encourage thinking of music primarily as a commercial item. In 1990s Japan, he
explained, record companies relied heavily on promoting songs through tie-ups
with television commercials and prime time dramas. They focused on hit songs,
rather than developing fan relationships with artists and groups. Taruishi argues
that such practices taught fans that music is simply a commodity, not a piece of
the soul of an artist or group, and so fans had little compunction against simply
copying music CDs, whether from friends or rental shops.
In situations where the connection between artists and fans is viewed as
more direct, people will buy.”

“So Japan offers several lessons. Eliminate p2p and you still won’t
eliminate unauthorized copying. Marketing practices may be partly to blame for
fans’ willingness to copy music. Hits can be generated many ways, even without
major label promotion. Businesses have other options besides fierce copyright
enforcement. Manga and anime have flourished in the context of lax legal
responses. Japan, with its rental CD shops, karaoke boxes, and a soon-to-bebooming
market in ‘ring tunes’ (CD quality songs for ringing cell phones), shows
that possible futures for media businesses are various. US record companies
may be fighting the wrong battles.”

“In the fall 2003, I started asking students a new question: Is there some music you would always
pay for? Most students said yes. They mentioned indie artists, or artists from
their hometown, whom they know ‘need the money.’ Some students identified
major groups ‘with a solid track record of good albums.’ Other students
mentioned entire genres of music, notably, jazz and classical music, because ‘they
stand the test of time,’ and because they are not adequately supported by major
record companies.”

See my writing on the substitutability of cultural goods for similar arguments. 

Buy Sealand? Is it possible?

ACFI is a group of people working for the peoples right to it’s Internets. We have made progress in
Ladonia and are now working on the Micronation of Sealand.

Recently it was made clear that this country is for sale. To make sure the owners will be kopimistic and that the country won’t be governed by people that do not care about it’s future, we have come up with a plan.

This is what sais about the plans buying Sealand, a sovereign piece of land in the North Sea.

But there are no more white spots on the map. Autonomy in the sense Hakim Bey describes is not a geographical notion. Pirate utopias are not designed to maintain themselves in the long run: there is no such thing as radical and uncompromising independence, separation from the rest of the world.

There is though guerrilla warfare, temporary autonomy, hit and run independence. But you need more than a bunch of 12 years old, who have not read The Lord of the Flies to achieve that…

Buy Sealand? Is it possible?

ACFI is a group of people working for the peoples right to it’s Internets. We have made progress in Ladonia and are now working on the Micronation of Sealand.

Recently it was made clear that this country is for sale. To make sure the owners will be kopimistic and that the country won’t be governed by people that do not care about it’s future, we have come up with a plan.

This is what about the plans buying Sealand, a sovereign piece of land in the North Sea.

But there are no more white spots on the map. Autonomy in the sense Hakim Bey describes  is not a geographical notion. Pirate utopias are not designed to maintain themselves in the long run: there is no such thing as radical and uncompromising independence, separation from the rest of the world.

There is though guerrilla warfare, temporary autonomy, hit and run independence. But you need more than a bunch of 12 years old, who have not read The Lord of the Flies to achieve that…

2006: Year in Music: It Was Free Cuz I Stole It (Seattle Weekly)

Now is a bad time to be a giant music corporation, but ethically challenged music fans couldn’t ask for better days. Bootlegging has always been about catering directly to the fans, and the Internet breeds the best bootleggers yet: bigger and stronger and faster than ever before, the better to handle the demands of 10 million file sharers trading a billion and a half songs daily.

It’s clear now that the CD-R bent the CD over and the MP3 player finished it off, and although the industry is still in shock, smaller and more agile labels are already accepting the inevitable and locking in a vinyl/digital-only production schedule, then using merch like T-shirts—low production cost, high sale price, lots of options to ratchet up collectibility—to plug their revenue gaps.

Since file sharing is permanent enough now that you can buy $19-per-year lawsuit insurance, it’s time to acknowledge the bright side. Out-of-print doesn’t mean anything anymore. If you can learn about it, you can listen to it, and if the record company doesn’t want to reissue it, you can probably find it without even having to stand up. The romance is gone but the music is cheap, accessible, and instant—that’s the music industry of the future, brought to you now by Russian MP3 pirates, obsessive genre bloggers, and criminals selling albums off a blanket on the street. Highlights of a year of unfair shares:

This is a great talk, much different from anything i have heard from him so far. as he gets more and more pissed off, so he gets more radical. 🙂

CJR September/October 2006 – Copyright Jungle:

COPYRIGHT JUNGLE By Siva Vaidhyanathan

in recent years — thanks to the ferocious mania to protect everything and the astounding political power of media companies — the basic, democratic checks and balances that ensured that copyright would not operate as an instrument of private censorship have been seriously eroded. The most endangered principle is fair use: the right to use others’ copyrighted works in a reasonable way to promote important public functions such as criticism or education. And if fair use is in danger then good journalism is also threatened. Every journalist relies on fair use every day. So journalists have a self-interest in the copyright story. And so does our society. Copyright was designed, as the Constitution declares, to “promote the progress” of knowledge and creativity. In the last thirty years we have seen this brilliant system corrupted and captured by the very industries that the old laws fostered. Yet the complexity and nuanced nature of copyright battles make it hard for nonexperts to grasp what’s at stake.

So it’s up to journalists to push deeper into stories in which copyright plays a part. Then the real challenge begins: explaining this messy system in clear language to a curious but confused audience.

By Joost Smiers and Marieke van Schijndel International Herald Tribune


What then, do we think, can replace copyright? In the first place, a work will have to take its chances on the market on its own, without the luxurious protection offered by copyrights. After all, the first to market has a time and attention advantage.


What is interesting about this approach is that this proposal strikes a fatal blow to a few cultural monopolists who, aided by copyright, use their stars, blockbusters and bestsellers to monopolize the market and siphon off attention from every other artistic work produced by artists. That is problematic in our society in which we have a great need for that pluriformity of artistic expression.


How do we think this fatal blow could work? If the protective layer that copyright has to offer no longer exists, we can freely exploit all existing artistic expressions and adapt them according to our own insights. This creates an unpleasant situation for cultural monopolists, as it deprives them of the incentive to pursue their outrageous investments in movies, books, T-shirts and any other merchandise associated with a single cultural product. Why would they continue making these investments if they can no longer control the products stemming from them and exploit them unhindered?


The domination of the cultural market would then be taken from the hands of the cultural monopolists, and cultural and economic competition between many artists would once again be allowed to take its course.


This would offer new perspectives for many artists. They would no longer be driven from the public eye and many of them would, for the first time, be able to make a living off their work. After all, they would no longer have to challenge – and bow down to – the market dominance of cultural giants. The market would be normalized.


 by David Choi and Arturo Perez

This explorative paper examines the impact of online piracy on innovation and new business creation. While often dismissed by academics and professionals alike, online piracy has shown to be a valuable source of innovation to both industry incumbents and entrepreneurs for the following four reasons: First, the online pirates have pioneered the use of new technologies. For example, they have made a significant impact in the evolution of file-transferring technology, which has created breakthroughs in information distribution for both illegal and legal uses. Second, the piracy communities have been the source of invaluable market insight to the business world. Third, online pirates have contributed to new market creation. For example, many of former Napster users have migrated to the legal version of Napster and Apple’s iTunes. Finally, online piracy has often spurred the creation of legal and innovative business models. We observe that this pattern of piracy pioneering new market insight, market communities and business models is repeated with each generation of new pirate technology. We point out that companies that understand the pattern and take advantage of the innovation offered by piracy communities can build businesses of significant value. Our paper is one of the very first and rare attempts on the subject of online piracy in management or entrepreneurship literature. It is also one of the first writings to describe the transition of online piracy to legitimate businesses. We believe that this is a practical paper that can be of use to academics as well as entrepreneurs.

There is some discussion going on in the economic literature whether copyright creates a monopoly for the author or there are many substitutes to any work protected copyright (see the reading list for relevant literature).

The monopoly argument is important because economists do not like monopolies and look at them as strong reasons for regulatory intervention. The fair use provisions are part of any copyright legislation just because of this: they serve as escape routes from the monopolistic power of creators.

So far I have not seen any convincing argument for or against the monopoly case. Maybe because there is none. So here is a solution, that defines monopoly (a very economic term) with the help of culture.

Anyone, who wishes to read the the book for which author Imre Kertesz won the Nobel price will be in difficult position to find a substitute. Other Nobel price winners or other works from Mr. Kertesz simply wont do the job. So whoever owns the rights for that work has indeed monopoly power ower the work.

This is also the case when we think about fan communities. For a die-hard Star Wars fan a film about Superman wont be a good substitute, morover it wont be a substitute at all.

On the other hand, for someone like me, who dislikes most of the movies from hollywood, it makes no difference if -having nothing else to do-, my local cinema does not play You Me and Dupree, only Superman Returns. I am not loyal, I am not fan, I am not member of that culture that values that specific piece of culture as his own. These two movies compete for me, and they are perfect substitutes for that night.
The bottom line is: intellectual property legislation creates monopoly for those whom a piace of cultural good really matters, and is an imperfect monopoly for those who do not care.

Mass produced, low shelf-life entertainment products tend to fall into the non-monopoly category, as few of them have loyal fanbase. Other cultural items, classics, cult pieces, things part of ‘high culture’ (meaning that they have a consumer base that values them on very sophisticated terms) tend to be monopolies.

But either way. If we can talk about a cultural monopoly in cases where there are consumers who really care, than it is a monopoly, even if there are consumer segments where it behaves like a competing product.

Canadian Peer-to-Peer (P2P) legal theories:

Canadian Peer-to-peer (P2P) legal theories, proposals and questions Conversations in the discussion forum in the last few weeks have suggested there is more than one theory about how peer-to-peer “file-sharing” (P2P) works, what it does, and what the meanings of terms like “upload” and “download” are when used in the context of P2P.

A quick note on the differences of who pays the price of copyright infringements in the US and in Europe.

In the US RIAA and other organizations as well as the copyright owners pay the lawyers and people to track down infringers and they use the money they win from settlements to initiate more actions. So finally those who have (or in many cases those who have not) committed unlawful acts pay the price of enforcement.

In Europe copyright crime is pursued by the police and the prosecutors. Thus taxpayers pay the price of unlawful behaviour of some members of society. They pay for the extra resources necessary to pursue illegal activities and where resources are limited and resources are diverted from pursuing other crimes to pursue copyright infringers they pay the price in the form of rising crime-rate in other fields. In this latter case the cost of strict copyright laws might be the rise in other crimes. Well, well…

Here I collect the texts I have written as part of the research:

The Club model of cultural consumption and distribution

When it comes to the market of digital goods, clubs –buyers teaming up to buy a single item and share it among themselves– seem to have little or no economic significance. Digital files are either perfectly controlled, thus the producer can appropriate all of the consumer surplus that could have arose by forming a club, or there is no way to control unauthorized copying thus there is no price at which it would be reasonable to sell a good on the market.
But if we include other, noneconomic aspects of clubs, notably their ability to negotiate and
enforce norms on how a given good is accessed and used, clubs can have a significant effect
on markets. So far we have seen that technological protection measures and copyright laws cannot effectively curb unauthorized uses of digital content. User communities around jambands can be an exception from this general trend as together with the artists they have created a normative environment that is able to police and enforce undesirable actions.

Is there a way to propagate the emergence of such communities through adequate
technologies designed to connect artists and fans? What can we do to help fans and artists to negotiate rules they are both are happy with?

Bodó Balázs- Gyenge Anikó: A könyvtári kölcsönzések után fizetendő jogdíj közgazdasági
szempontú elemzése

A nyilvános könyvtári kölcsönzések után a jogosultaknak fizetendő jogdíj (Public Lending
Right – a továbbiakban PLR) ötlete több sebből is vérzik.
Ha a PLR-re mint a nemzeti kulturális politikától független eszközre tekintünk, mely e jogot természetjogi érveléssel a tulajdonhoz való jogból vezeti le, minden esetben oda jutunk, hogy a jogosultak monopoljogát kiterjesztjük és az ezzel járó járadékot növeljük. Ennek következménye jelentős fogyasztói csoportok kulturális fogyasztásból való kiszorulása lehet, melyre eddig a legolcsóbb és hatékonyabb megoldás a könyvtári kölcsönzés szabadsága volt.

Ha a PLR nemzeti kultúrpolitikai eszköz, akkor viszont azt a megállapítást tehetjük, hogy a PLR a meglévő kultúratámogatási rendszerek mellett való üzemeltetése indokolatlanul
bonyolult, és költséges, és ha az állami döntéshozók úgy találják, hogy van a költségvetésben kultúratámogatásra fordítható tartalék, akkor azt érdemes a meglévő intézményrendszeren keresztül szétosztani.

Végül pedig a jogosultak, szerzők szemszögéből megvizsgálva a kérdést: nincs olyan szerző a földön, aki visszavonná egy megjelent művét a könyvtárakból csak azért mert azt vélelmezi, hogy a kölcsönzések miatt eladásoktól esik el. Ennek az egyetlen oka az, hogy a szerzők számára a könyvtárban való jelenlét haszna nagyobb, mint a könyvtári olvasók által okozott kiesett kereslet. Már csak emiatt sem érdemes a PLR bevezetése.

The Pirates of The Pirates of the Caribbean

This is the PowerPoint presentation of the talk I gave on the Chicago Kent Law School this March.

Robin Hood Digital – english

“File-sharing communities are also remembering communities. They direct attention and thus demand, they discuss and thus keep alive cultural goods. When something is posted as available for download, not only those fetch it have requested a particular item, but also those who were standing nearby. These individuals are reciting work long forgotten like those who in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 memorize books to be able to share them with others.”

Sobri Joska Digital – in hungarian

Megjelent a Café Babel 2006 decemberi, Hiány c. számában.

A Csendes Könyvtár és az összes többi hasonló szolgáltatás az úgynevezett közjavakra épülő internetes kooperációs hálózatokra (commons based peer production networks) példa. A piac által (kényszerűségből) szabadon hagyott résekben, marginális igények, érdekek körül a semmiből jönnek létre olyan közösségek, melyek a hálózat tagjai között elosztott különböző képességeket, erőforrásokat (időt, szkennert, karakterfelismerő programot, korrektúrázó képességet) képesek hatékonyan összehangolni egy olyan feladat érdekében, melynek gyümölcseit aztán mindenki szabadon és ingyenesen élvezheti.”

A szerzői jog gazdaságtana az online világban

Frissen elkészült könyvfejezet.

“A szerzői jog közgazdasági elemzése során a szerzőknek biztosított monopoljog különös figyelmet vívott ki magának. Ennek az az oka, hogy a monopol helyzetben levő termelők maguk határozzák meg a piaci árat, és ez az ár jellemzően nagyobb, mint amennyi versenyhelyzetben lenne. Tökéletes verseny esetén a piaci ár megegyezik a termék határköltségével, azaz azzal az összeggel, amennyibe a legutolsó példány elkészítése kerül. A monopóliumok határköltségnél magasabb ára azzal jár, hogy a piaci kereslet egy
része nem tudja megfizetni a monopolista szabta árat.”

A szőnyeg alá söpört archívum
Megjelent a Manager Magazin 2006. Decemberi számában Tartalomraktárak címen.

“Ma Magyarországon az a kérdés, hogy a piacra várnunk-e, hogy ezeket az archívumokat kiépítsék, a nehézkesen működő és alulfinanszírozott közintézményekre lőcsöljük-e ezt a feladatot, vagy megteremtjük annak lehetőségét, hogy a magyar kulturális közösség fenntartsa önmagát. A Neumann-ház megrendelésére elkészített Nemzeti Digitális Adattár 2.0 vitaanyag a közösségi archiválás lehetőségének kiterjesztését tartalmazza, az első lépés tehát ezügyben megtörtént. Még egy lépés azonban hátra van. Dekriminalizálni kellene kirillt, scan_dalt, helpert és társaik. Hogy ne fordulhasson elő az, hogy ennek az örökségnek piaci, személyes érdekeket sértő részei esetleg nem maradnak fenn. Hogy ne legyen bűnöző az a soktízezres közösség, amelyik a magyar audiovizuális örökség archiválásán dolgozik – társadalmi munkában.”

A retardált archívum

Megjelent az Élet és Irodalom 2007. január 5-i számában.

“A közpénzből finanszírozott, közszolgálati archívum kapuit minél szélesebbre kell tárni. A hat havi elérhetőséget nem szűkíteni kell, hanem az archívum digitalizálásával bővíteni. Az archívumi anyagok lementését, felhasználását, adott esetben átalakítását nem megakadályozni kell hanem a megfelelő jogi konstrukció kidolgozásával megengedni , támogatni, bátorítani. Ezt követeli a finanszírozás módja. Ezt követeli a közszolgálatiság jelentése. Ezt követeli a piaci értékesítés igénye. Ezt követeli a józan ész.”
PhD 2-page research proposal in english

A short description of my research.

Régebbi cikkek/ older writings

A „mély link”
Internetes tartalomszolgáltatók vs. internet

Megjelent a Beszélő 2003 szeptemberi számában.

“Mély link valójában nincs. Link van, mely mutathat bárhová: egy portál címoldalára, a legutolsó, senki által nem olvasott cikkére, képre, linkgyűjteményre, bárhova. A mély linkelést nem lehet megtiltani, csupán azt lehet technológiai eszközökkel elérni, hogy egy adott gyűjteménybe csak egy, a hivatalos kapun keresztül lehessen bejutni. Ott pedig, ahol korábban szabad volt az átjárás, jogi vagy technológiai falak kezdenek épülni, melyek az internet mindent mindennel összekötő hipertextuális szövetéből kiragadnak, elérhetetlenné tesznek tartalmakat. Az intertextualitásból kiemelt, a többi szöveggel való kapcsolatától megfosztott valami pedig megszűnik szövegnek lenni.”

Bolyongás egy áldás nélküli térben
Graffiti és street art mint a társadalmi diskurzus eszköze

Megjelent a Café Babelben 2004-ben.

“Az egyre lezáródó fizikai, média- és kulturális terekben az autonómia megteremtése egyre költségesebb: magas a lebukás veszélye és nagy a várható büntetés, megfizethetetlenek a kártérítési és nem utolsó sorban jogi költségek. Nehéz felbecsülni, hogy az egyre szigorodó ellenőrzési technikák milyen mértékben gátolják üzenetek megjelenését, hiszen a leginkább kockázatvállalókat kivéve az alkotóknak nem áll érdekükben láthatóvá válni, nem szeretnék magukra felhívni a figyelmet. Ha mégis, akkor a szólás szabadságát keresők szükségszerűen mozognak a gyengébb ellenállás, tehát olyan médiumok felé, melyek könnyebben támadhatók, azaz ellenőrzésük architekturális okokból nehezebben megoldható”

From experience goods to search goods

There has been several measurements on how illegal downloading affects markets of cultural goods. Although the results sometimes contradict each other, there is a consensus that in fact there is a conversion of illegal downloaders into purchasers. There are several explanations offered: downloaders pay for items they were not exposed to before (the publicity value argument), downloaders are not evil, and they are willing to pay to artists they like (community support argument), downloaders are buying because there is a market they are happy to use or they are threatened to use by lawsuits (industry argument) or illegal downloads are not (good enough) substitutes for a DVD or a CD.

In this essay I would like to offer a different approach that explains the coexistence of illegal downloading and legal purchases by a shift that affects the status of cultural goods. A shift that made culture to act like a search good instead of an experience good, a shift that at the end completely rewrites the rules of cultural markets.

In the economic literature cultural goods are described as experience goods the value of which can only become apparent to its consumer after it has been consumed. Unlike drinking just another bottle of coke, one cannot tell if she liked a concert, a movie or the new album of an artist until she has experienced it. This attribute of cultural goods defines a very special economic context to these goods as this uncertainty on the experience creates a factor of risk on the consumer side, a risk which heavily affects prices and demand for the goods, thus creating a risk for the supply side as well.

There are several methods by which both the consumers and the suppliers try to lower the level of uncertainty on the demand side. On the consumer side listening to word of mouth and peer reviews and the general avoidance of things unheard of and unknown are the tools to reduce the risk of paying for something that might turn up as a bad experience. Suppliers give away free previews in form of trailers, teasers; a whole media system of commercial radio airs these goods in exchange for commercials; professional or paid reviewers are writing about these goods; charts and top-lists are complied; massive multi-million dollar marketing campaigns are launched; stars with known reputation are bred and employed. These techniques are designed to provide the potential consumers with extra information and thus lower their uncertainty.

Today the efforts and resources of cultural industries are equally divided between the production of cultural goods and their marketing. Production costs are in the same range as marketing budgets and the marketing has spawn a distinct culture of celebrities and parasite media dealing with celebrities, reinforced by the cross-ownership of media conglomerates in every media type.

Despite all these efforts consumers might end up not being satisfied. There are several signs of this ‘post-coital sadness’: bad reviews on blogs, quickly dying films after the opening weekend, weak DVD rentals and sales and falling reputation of stars. This signals the distance between the actual and the promised experience, the size of the information asymmetry between the consumer and the supplier.

With the advent of file-sharing technologies this situation has changed. The risk of consuming a cultural good is not a financial risk anymore if one can download a song freely before purchasing it. Of course there are costs still associated with consumption: the cost of acquiring information about a good, the cost of searching, the cost of downloading, the cost of possible lawsuits, etc., but one does not have to pay at the counter only to realize that all the other songs on that album are not at all that good as the one played all the time on the radio, or that the trailer actually contains every enjoyable second of a feature film. Consuming a cultural good for free is the cheapest way to get to know the actual value of it. As the risks of consuming something unknown decrease, cultural goods shift to be search goods in economic terms, as no transaction is takes place before the actual experience.

But that does not mean that market transactions cannot and will not happen afterwards. But in this case a purchase will happen only if the consumer had a positive experience, when she actually had full information on the goods that she was about to purchase.

Will this shift result is a loss in sales? Well, the supplier will lose only the sales that were happening only because the information asymmetry – in other words sales that at the end resulted in an unhappy customer. Will new sales occur? Certainly, from consumers for whom the risk of paying for something unknown was too high of an entry barrier to make the actual purchase in the first place. Illegal downloading is lowering the entry barrier of consumers to markets.

Many still argue that illegal downloading is actually replacing or rather killing markets. I would argue that the efforts trying to keep cultural goods as experience goods are killing markets. Trailers, paid-for radio broadcasts, 30 second online listening-in services do not lower the uncertainty barrier enough to draw significant amount of new customers to markets outside of the mainstream. And for those consumers who are free-riding on this system will eventually face a serious problem: the end of supply of the goods they actually liked but never paid for.