Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Newzbin, the future of copyright and all that

On Twitter, Lilian Edwards recently asked: "What are the two biggest questions for regulation of the copyright industries today?"

My answer was: "How to persuade users that copyright is not meaningless, and thus ought to be obeyed."

Of course, a tweet is too short to explain this, but fortunately I was speaking at the SCL London Group meeting last night and remembered to record my thoughts.

The recording is at: this link

And the slides, to help you follow, at: this link


  1. But .. but.. where are the refs?!

    Thx for heads up :)

  2. The refs are in Chapters 4-7 and 13 of "Making Lawsfor Cyberspace", forthcoming from OUP April 2012.

    But I have a vision of me conducting my talks like the BBC version of Stella Gibbons' "Cold Comfort Farm" - though the three glockenspiel tones to indicate the footnote, rather than Gibbons' passges of particulary fine writing.

  3. Hi Chris, can you publish the links to the records? Thank you.

  4. All is now clear- I hadn't realised the links were cunningly hidden.

    Should be visible and working now.

  5. Perhaps Professor Reed might care to speculate as to where the next Harry Potter series of books, and films with equally high production values, starring actors as skilled and experienced (through working in other big-budget productions) as their casts, underscored by musicians equally skilled and experienced because they support themselves economically via their chosen profession, after 'Open Culture' has 'creatively destroyed' all of that and we drown in endless amateur YouTube cute cat home videos?


  6. Anonymous (I nearly binned this - real names are more polite and braver)is quite right - Harry Potter, and indeed the entire film industry is under serious threat.

    But passing new laws, or trying to enforce old ones, won't change that. Users have to be persuaded (by the law, amongst other mechanisms) to do the right thing and pay for content. But all the evidence tells me that they don't think it's right to pay for everything that the industry would like them to pay for, and if it tries to make them pay, they will stop paying at all.

    You'll notice I've not said this is a good thing - like all change it's almost certainly a mixture of good and bad. But not liking it doesn't mean it's not happening.

    What's needed is a new bargain between the content makers and the content users. Refusing to negotiate is not a successful strategy - thus the death of the music industry as I knew it, because it insisted on asserting its legal rights and ignoring what its customers wanted. Law changes when society changes, and this is a big change in society.

    My guess is that the money will flow in from performance, rather than selling recordings. There is evidence that this is already happening in music, and some musicians would say this is no bad thing (bye bye to Autotune and manufactured bands). If cinema goes the same way we might see a return to the wonderful picture palaces of the 30s, when going to the movies was a serious outing and worth paying for. Or more interesting films and fewer retread sequels.