April 11, 2007

Enforcement business

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 1:56 pm

In an earlier posting I wrote:

Assuming that Users can express their rights and control the machines enforcing the law Users will learn that enforcement of their rights is not necessarily bad.

BayTSP offers an automatic Copyright Enforcement Service to Rights-Holders. A number of BayTSP bots scan p2p networks for known content. If this content is owned by one of their clients (e.g. Universal Studios), the BayTSP system looks up the ISP of the computer publishing the content and automatically generates an e-mail containing a “Copyright Infringement Notification”. The BayTSP Notice Information FAQs indicate how this “Copyright Infringement Notification” may look like:

BayTSP believes that it found your system was offering to others content that is owned by BayTSP’s client. The details of what BayTSP found are contained in the infringement notice.

[...] Complete the steps below – the requests listed in the notice from Client @ copyright-compliance. DELETE / REMOVE / Disable ACCESS of the alleged infringing files, stated in the NOTICE.

[...] Send your signed statement [...] The Statement (counter notice) must contain: [...] A statement under penalty of perjury that in good faith that the material was removed or disabled by you or misidentification. (misidentification requires a detailed explanation and for you to contact your ISP regarding a Counter notification)

Note that they have even developed an Infringement Schema for their software. In their FAQ BayTSP write:

BayTSP can automatically register your work with the Copyright office; record the Copyright Office tracking number; search the web for violations; automatically issue infringement notifications; track the number of days that the infringed material is online; and report if/when the material is removed.

Apparently a whole industry is waiting to bridge a gap in the market. Automatic Rights enforcement appears to be a valid Digital Media Business model.

BayTSP seems to have a de-facto monopoly. I believe it would be pretty straightforward to implement their business model as Free and Open Source software. A Free software for this kind of automatic rights enforcement (e.g. based on Chillout) available for any law firm could foster competition between “rights enforcement providers”. Creating a horizontal market in the “enforcement business” could substantially lower the prices that can be charged for automatically generating “Copyright Infringement Notices”.

April 10, 2007


Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 9:42 pm

I have always felt that there is a close connection between Art and Mathematics. Last night I discovered Pattern: An interdisciplinary course in textile design and elementary group theory. Pippa Drew and Dorothy Wallace, two Mathematics professors from Darthmouth College published this website more than 10 years ago.

In their Lesson on the Connections between art and mathematics they write:

Because they were now so intimately connected to a wide spectrum of intellectual treasures, Islamic scholars quickly embraced Greek philosophy and mathematics, translating and disseminating this knowledge for posterity. The cultivation of mathematical analysis, in particular, harmonized with their new spirituality. “Driven by the religious passion for abstraction and the related doctrine of unity — al-twahid, the muslim intellectuals recognized in geometry the unifying intermediary between the material and the spiritual world. …. The works of Euclid and Pythagoras were among the first to be translated into Arabic.” [...]

The principles of unity, abstraction and harmony with nature and the heavens, as fundamental to Islamic art, are symbolized in this circular geometry of the plane. The square and the rectangle have harmonious proportions, and the circle is the ultimate expression of unity. The circle is not only the perfect expression of justice-equality in all directions in a finite domain–but also the most beautiful parent of all polygons, both containing and underlying them. From the circle comes the triangle, square and hexagon. These three shapes are thus meant to symbolize “the square of the earth, or materiality, the triangle of human consciousness, and the hexagon, or circle of heaven.

Patterns are the connections between the logical and the physical space. What a pity that some people still try to make us believe that a piece of art that is made from these patterns can be “owned” by a person (creator) as intellectual property (IP).

pattern prayer

April 5, 2007

Reality update

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 5:18 pm

While I am sitting in front of my computer debating about the copyright of digital media my friend Klaas Glenewinkel just uses them for broadcasting reality updates from Iraq. The story of Zainab shows that all our theories about a better society in digital space are useless as long as violence and ignorance rule the physical world.

Constructive by Design

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 3:44 pm

Defective by Design is an Anti-DRM campaign of the Free Software Foundation (FSF). In an open letter to Steve Jobs they identified three ways how Steve Jobs could show his sincerety about his pledge to drop DRM:

  • Drop DRM on iTunes for independent artists
  • Drop DRM on iTunes for Disney movies and video
  • Make a public stand against DRM and legislation mandating DRM by funding a campaign to repeal the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) prohibitions.

As much as I sympathize with these claims I suppose that they are unrealistic as long as they do not propose a viable alternative for a digital media economy.

Dropping proprietary DRM for iTunes will only be feasable if there are alternative business models for paying the artists, producers,… and all the other people investing their time and workpower for the benefit of the people who love music, movies and video.

Many brilliant researchers and initiatives have been working on technical and legal solutions to implement so-called Alternative Compensation Systems (ACS). I am thinking for example of Felix Stalder and Volker Grassmuck who introduced the idea of a “Content Flatrate” as early as 2004. In parallel the DMP has specified an open standard for a technical infrastructure which can support ACS.

In my opinion taking action on a fourth front would be a powerful demonstration that Steve Jobs is “Constructive by Design”:

  • Support initiatives and Free Software projects working on new legal and technological solutions to express copyright and compensate rights holders in the digital space .

April 4, 2007

Are you sure, Mr Nicoli?

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 8:42 pm

Apple announced that EMI and iTunes customers can purchase DRM-free songs from the iTunes Store will be encoded in AAC at 256 kbps.

The Apple press release quotes Eric Nicoli, the CEO of EMI Group:

EMI and iTunes are once again teaming up to move the digital music industry forward by giving music fans higher quality audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings, with no usage restrictions on the music they love from their favorite artists.

No usage restrictions?

Excellent! I promise that I will purchase all the music I love from the EMI iTunes catalogue and then I will:

  • Rip it to my harddisk
  • Mix it with other songs
  • Stream it to the Internet
  • Sell the Remixes in my online store

… because the EMI CEO said there are no usage restrictions on my digital music purchased from iTunes!

The Apple/ EMI press release is nothing but a lame duck. In a previous posting I commented already the text published by Steve Jobs’ to curry favour with the Anti-DRM front. Now a Major Label teams up with a major Device Manufacturer to promote an unrealistic scenario. Are Mr Jobs and Mr Nicoli really thinking that End-users will pay $1.29 for the right to play a song on their Devices? Of course they will expect that they are allowed to share it, upload it on p2p networks, remix it…

Then the two CEOs will call for yet-another proprietary DRM solution (e.g. Shawn Fanning’s SNOCAP) and the music industry’s marketing game will start again… When will they finally understand that digital music is more than “pay-per-listen”? In the digital space music is everywhere, because it’s Data. Everywhere divided by two is still everywhere. It’s a pity that they don’t learn this in their MBA programs. In order to sell a bunch of bits on the net it must be a digital object (e.g. Data with a unique identifier). Understand?

Apparently some music industry executives assume that digital media users are ignorant about copyright and believe their propaganda (I still remember the absurd “copy kills music” campaign by the German phonographic alliance IFPI). Far from it! Thanks to visionaries like Lawrence Lessig and his Creative Commons project even the kids in the street know that different usages of digital music (e.g. streaming internet radio, remixing derivative works) depend on different rights and the value of a bunch of data increases with the number of usages granted by the owner of the copyright. The DMP‘s Open Source Interoperable DRM platform (IDP) is a means to express the possible usages in a machine readable way. The IDP is far from dead. I am not so sure about EMI.

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