Another attempt at the same thing.

One part of the question is whether different expressions of the same idea are worth the same. Should I pay more for a CD than a restricted bandwidth MP3 or a low bandwidth ringtone? The media industry appears to think they are all equally valuable and should be the same price. So what is it they actually own and what is it they are actually selling us?

The gist of the problem is in two parts.

1) Automated recognition of an idea (software, audio, video) even when it is in multiple encodings. eg. How do you tell that a 32Kbps stream, a 192Kb Mp3, an AAC file from iTunes, a FLAC file, a CD WAV, a mobile ringtone are all the same song. Or that a DVD, a DIVX, an AVI, or the same from a handheld camera in a movie theatre is the same video. And worse, that a 10 second sample of that song within a hip hop remix comes from the same idea. The industry has been focussing on watermarking and DRM used as a marker on a specific expression of an idea. But increasingly we transcode that expression (if only to remove the DRM) and in the process remove the marker. Intuitively (and legally), the rights remain the same. It's the same song. But automating that is hard.

2) Separating the trade in rights from the trade in ideas and the expression of those ideas. Analogous to futures and options trading independently from the underlying shares. What if I could buy the rights to listen (or perform or broadcast) to a piece of music separately from obtaining a physical CD or a downloaded Mp3? We could allow P2P file sharing to happen. In fact we would encourage it in order to get free distribution. But there's a big hole when we try and think about enforcement and control of the rights trading.

There's much to think about here. If we solve the recognition problem, we still have to solve the enforcement problem. But I think it puts a new slant on the copyfight.

On a purely personal level, I would like to buy the rights to obtain and listen to about 10-20 new albums a month but without saying where those came from or what format they're actually delivered in and where the rights holder is frequently individuals or independent record labels. And I'd like to be able to transfer some of those rights to my children and to offset the cost by reselling the ones I don't want on eBay or Amazon.

As soon as you start transcoding you open up all sorts of awkward legal questions. I've got a big CD collection which has now all been ripped to MP3. Inevitably my kids listen to it. And as they got laptops some of it migrated onto them. Then they went off to Uni.

Cory pointed me to this Kuro5hin article that proposes an open OSS DVD format for high definition music that is in a copy friendly format. But this is just dragging us back into an argument where some expressions of an idea are worth more than others. I want to move beyond that and ignore the format being used. Either I have the right to listen to the song or not. Either the owner of the rights to that song has the right to sell it to me or not. Once I have that right and a master copy, I should be able to transcode that master copy into whatveer format I see fit and play it on whatever device I see fit.

Still confused here. It makes sense but it still doesn't allow room for a meaningful business model around trading those rights rather than trading specific bit streams or physical expressions.

[ << Building SOA your way | InfoWorld | Analysis | 2005-09-12 | By Jon Udell ] [ Gobby >> ]
[ 26-Sep-05 5:31pm ] [ , ]