Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘copyright’

AP claims web sites have to license 5-word quotations

Posted by Fred on June 19, 2008

Cory Doctorow notes the Associated Press’ claim that you should have to license 5-word quotations:

In the name of “defin[ing] clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt” the Associated Press is now selling “quotation licenses” that allow bloggers, journallers, and people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. The licensing system exhorts you to snitch on people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in reward money (they also think that “fair use” — the right to copy without permission — means “Contact the owner of the work to be sure you are covered under fair use.”).

When attacked over the plan and its demand that The Drudge Retort remove some unlicensed excerpts, the AP backed down and is reconsidering its position:

After that, however, the news association convened a meeting of its executives at which it decided to suspend its efforts to challenge blogs until it creates a more thoughtful standard.

“We don’t want to cast a pall over the blogosphere by being heavy-handed, so we have to figure out a better and more positive way to do this,” Mr. Kennedy said.

That’s all well and good, but what is more worrisome is the claim in the NY Times article that

The A.P.’s effort to impose some guidelines on the free-wheeling blogosphere, where extensive quoting and even copying of entire news articles is common, may offer a prominent definition of the important but vague doctrine of “fair use,” which holds that copyright owners cannot ban others from using small bits of their works under some circumstances.

No, it won’t, because it can’t. Fair use is a legal doctrine, and the AP can no more redefine what it means than the Times can define libel to mean “a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person, unless it is published by the New York Times.”

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Posted in Blogging, law | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Hey Arrington, Bring on the Free Music

Posted by Fred on October 4, 2007

Mike Arrington joins Mike Manick in the “Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free” club:

The economics of recorded music are fairly simple. Marginal production costs are zero: Like software, it doesn’t cost anything to produce another digital copy that is just as good as the original as soon as the first copy exists, and anyone can create those copies. Unless effective legal (copyright), technical (DRM) or other artificial impediments to production can be created, simple economic theory dictates that the price of music, like its marginal cost, must also fall to zero. The evidence is unmistakable already. In April 2007 the benchmark price for a DRM-free song was $1.29. Today it is $0.89, a drop of 31% in just six months.P2P networks just exacerbate the problem (or opportunity) further, giving people a way to speed up the process of creating free copies almost to the point of being ridiculous. Today, a billion or so songs are downloaded monthly via BitTorrent, mostly illegally.

Eventually, unless governments are willing to take drastic measures to protect the industry (such as a mandatory music tax), economic theory will win out and the price of music will fall towards zero.

I think both the Mikes are wrong on the economics – while the marginal cost of production of anything made of and distributed as bits is close to (but not exactly) zero, the argument that the price of a good should trend toward the marginal cost of production exists only if you have perfect competition.  In music, you don’t – the music I produce in my basement is not a substitute for Hey Jude.  Arrington tries to get around this by arguing that every consumer of media can be a producer by copying the bits. But in that case I’m not producing the goods, I’m distributing them, and I’m doing so illegally. There’s still only one entity capable of producing the good in question, and substitute goods are not an adequate exchange.

But from a practical perspective, I hope Arrington and Masnick are right, so I can benefit as a free rider. I have no interest in the “real products” they suggest will be used to meet the fixed costs of the music industry. 39 year olds with kids don’t go to a lot of concerts, and I’d just look stupid wearing Radiohead merchandise. I have no interest in deluxe packaged editions of physical recordings or fan clubs. All I want is a DRM-free copy of a recording to play on my iPod and streamed to my home stereo. If I can get that for free while other people pay to produce the music, then I’m all for it.

Posted in Music | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »