back to article Finally - a solution to let people make money online WITHOUT ads?

The UK's copyright industries have agreed to fund new content trading exchanges, which will make it easier to use images and other creative works at a lower cost. That's according to Richard Hooper, the ex-Ofcom bigwig tasked by the government to oversee the creation of these copyright hubs. Arguably, this is something …


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  1. Spoonsinger

    " In 1968, Hooper said he was invited to examine an early time-sharing system, bla bla"

    but, shirley, don't mad big end schemes, regardless of their 'economic'/accounting benefit, actually provide the impetuous for others to follow in the footsteps? Someone is always going to pay a cost for trail blazing, but this give the rest just the nudge to say 'yep we can probably do that cheaper'. It's really easy being a critic. (although It's not quite as easy for a critic to turn down easy money).

  2. El Presidente

    "Blogger Dominic Young described how he had once been in charge of licensing content for a major newspaper group - and had to quote £60 a time to make it worthwhile"

    The freetardism runs so deep in the likes of people like Dominic Young that even when spending Other People's Money, he sees no intrinsic value in other people's work.

    "If the transaction cost could be lowered to pennies, then more people would license the stuff"

    I demand my Male Chicken icon specifically for the likes of Dominic Young and his new model ideas.

    1. P. Lee


      The problem with much of "IP" is that it has no intrinsic value - it exists only to be licensed or to prevent other people from having it.

      So a newspaper might send a team to cover an event and at great cost, but if onlookers take pics with their camera-phones, the value of the photographic team's work is diminished.

      If you don't put up barriers to entry in the registry it will be flooded with rubbish from punters taking a punt on their camera phone pics (compare with phone apps). If you do put up barriers to entry, you then need to charge more to cover the costs or end up saying that copyright only applies to licensed industries or some such rubbish.

      When it comes down to it, it turns out that what we thought was a good idea (using the internet) wasn't. It turns out once again that the internet outstrips common sense. Even if you do sell a picture, once it is available it can be kept and archived and reused or shared.

      What you really need is an idea to make money which doesn't rely on artificial scarcity when duplication is free. Or you need to be able to make money despite piracy. This isn't a freetard manifesto, its good business sense and risk management.

      Even wedding photographers make sure they get paid for their work (to their own satisfaction) before they release the photos. Duplicates orders after that are jam, not bread and butter.

  3. Captain Underpants

    I must say this was informative and less rhetoric-laden than many Orlowski pieces on this subject.

    That being said, it's verging on disingenuous to suggest that only churlish fools have a problem with the behaviour of rightsholders - I'm delighted to hear that sanity has, more or less, started to prevail. But rightsholders are hardly saints with nary a sin to their name - they count amongst their number the fools who wanted piano rolls banned because they threatened the livelihood of musicians who played live; the twits who keep demanding extension to the duration of copyright (which is fundamentally against the principle of copyright; the point was supposed to be that they get protected sole rights of exploitation in exchange for the work eventually going into the public domain - constant extensions give them protected sole rights while removing their contributions to the public domain, which IMO is not particularly fair), and the twits who insisted that home taping/VHS taping/MP3 downloading is KILLING MUSIC/FILM (only to realise that when someone approached it with a sensible free-market perspective, it turns out there was a load of money to be made).

    Rightsholders aren't the entire problem, but they're definitely part of it. But as I say, the main thing I take away from this is satisfaction that everyone involved is, it appears, willing to start getting on with a more sensible approach to solving the problem rather than being silly about it as they have been so far.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've just bought a phone from EE and the contract it comes with a free film download. Okay it cost me 35p for a text message but that's the sort of money I'll pay to watch a recent film without hassle.

    Although why on earth anyone would think joe public £3.99 for a average quality rental of a film I don't know. The frame rate is seemingly low too on these EE rentals. Streaming is done with Silverlight too, good luck with that.

  5. Dr Paul Taylor

    Academics don't get anything from the existing system

    It's likely to annoy bureaucrats and taxpayer-funded academics who have carved out a niche turning copyright into a regulatory boondoggle.

    Why was it necessary to make this uninformed side-swipe at academics?

    Those who publish their papers in expensive commercial journals do so because the universities that employ them and the agencies through which they get their funding force them to do so, following the instructions of taxpayer-elected governments.

    Whatever kind of journal they use, academics do all the work (research, typesetting, refereeing) but receive no royalties for publication of papers. The royalties on research-level books usually amount to pocket money.

    Get your facts right, please.

    Besides, it would also be useful if you could tell us how the proposed system would work.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Academics don't get anything from the existing system

      "following the instructions of taxpayer-elected governments"

      Eh? When did you have to pay taxes to be allowed to vote? I'm too poor to pay taxes (ok, I pay VAT), but I still voted in the general election two years ago. The only qualification to votes is, as Heinlein put it, the possession of a warm body.

    2. James Cullingham

      Re: Academics don't get anything from the existing system

      I believe that are more careful reading will reveal that the comment was actually aimed at academics whose field of expertise is copyright law, rather than those who publish other material.

      Read first, understand, then comment...

  6. Mystic Megabyte

    Mirror mirror, on the wall

    In the days of film, our local newspaper would pay £8 for a photo that they printed. When digital cameras became common they stopped paying anything.

  7. Fibbles

    I'm sorry, WHAT!?

    "Blogger Dominic Young described how he had once been in charge of licensing content for a major newspaper group - and had to quote £60 a time to make it worthwhile. If the transaction cost could be lowered to pennies, then more people would license the stuff. That's the hope of the Newspaper Licensing Agency too."

    If I'm understanding this correctly, I will no longer be able to set my own prices. The price will be set at 'pennies' by a licensing agency, making no consideration for my time invested or any other costs I need to recoup.

    “The market-driven approach of free trading makes legislative and regulatory meddling with copyright, to "fix things", redundant.”

    Taking away the ability of creators to set prices is the exact opposite of a free market. In a free market you have the choice to pay what I'm asking for my content or go elsewhere. If you go elsewhere I have a choice between going bust or lowering my prices until they're competitive. Forcing me to use a standard price is not a free market.

    The only people this is going to benefit are large businesses that want cheap content to help sell their primary product. It might initially benefit consumers due to lower prices but once all the independent content producers go bust they'll be wishing there was more choice than stuff from mega-corps A, B and C.

  8. Richard 12 Silver badge

    He said reduce "transaction cost" to pennies.

    When you buy a thing, there are several parts to the money paid:

    1) Cost of making the individual thing physically transferred to the buyer.

    2) Marginal cost of designing/creating the original thing.

    3) Marginsl overhead cost of running the shop selling the thing.

    4) Profit made by the seller.

    If you make and sell intangible copyrighted works, (1) is almost zero, (2) and (3) are your real costs.

    (2) has already come down dramatically and are still falling - the cameras and other equipment needed for most artworks cost far less than they did even five years ago - yet the cost of actually licensing the work to another entity and getting your money has barely changed in decades.

    For example, the PRS uses most of the money collected in order to run itself - so the transaction cost is high, and very little of the cash gets back to the artists.

    If you can radically reduce the cost of licensing and payment (to mere pennies instead of the current rather high prices,) then you will get more profit on your work.

    1. El Presidente

      Re: He said reduce "transaction cost" to pennies.

      There are no transaction costs when a photographer sells a picture to a newspaper.

      Apart from the berk trying to get the price down from reasonable to "pennies"

      That's the only transaction cost. Want to increase transaction costs? Create an expensive multi-layered agency with lots of rules and people with expense accounts to solve a self created problem which hitherto didn't exist.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: There are no transaction costs when a photographer sells a picture to a newspaper.

        So, how does the newspaper find your photo to buy it in the first place, if it costs neither of you anything whatsoever to sell it to them?

        In the real world, either the photographer is paying an agent to pitch their photos to the newspapers, they pitch the photos themselves, or the newspaper is paying people to search out photos. Usually all three.

        Only the last one costs the photographer nothing - but the photographer almost always gets nothing for them either, because the paper will use the first decent 'free' one they find.

        For example, Getty Images is an agency and many freelance photographers have arrangements with a few editors.

        The article appears to be describing a way of linking multiple Getty Images-type exchanges together.

        As long as you're able to control the price at which your work is sold, then it is to the good - more exposure, and lower cost of doing business.

        There is of course a risk of the registries becoming full of useless tat, so newspapers etc don't bother - a risk that becomes practically certain if the 'orphan works' insanity progresses any further.

        That would effectively mean not being on these registers would end up 'orphaning' your work, so it's yet another reason why that "orphan works" land-grab needs to be smashed back into both the EU and especially UK Plc's collective faces.

        Repeat after me - there is NO SUCH THING as an orphaned work.

      2. Chappy

        Re: He said reduce "transaction cost" to pennies.

        > There are no transaction costs when a photographer sells a picture to a newspaper.

        Of course there are transaction costs.

        e.g. The cost of paying someone at the newspaper to find a relevant available photo, talk to you, look at your photos, negotiate the price with you, send you the licensing contract, check that you signed it, check that you are credibly the owner of the copyright and so have the right to sign the contract, taking the contract to someone internal who has signing authority for the newspaper, sending you a copy of the signed contract, entering the photo in a system that tracks its future use against the contract that authorises it, setting up the payment to be made to you, etc.

        The more this is standardised and automated, the lower the transaction costs.

        That does not have to mean that the price paid is standardised. e.g. ebay provides an electronic auction platform that allows market forces to determine the price paid for a disparate range of items, while lowering the transaction cost. In the case of ebay, it particularly lowers the cost of the buyer and seller finding each other, as well as providing standard ways for them to interact, and a standard legal agreement behind the transaction.

        Imagine an ebay designed specifically for licensing photos rapidly, with standard watermarking requirements, etc.

        1. El Presidente

          Re: He said reduce "transaction cost" to pennies.

          "The cost of paying someone at the newspaper to find a relevant available photo"

          Yes, the berk who's trying to get the price down to pennies.

    2. Fibbles

      Re: He said reduce "transaction cost" to pennies.

      See, this is what happens when I read Orlowski articles late at night; confusion and misdirected anger. Cheers for the correction Richard, though I think you're wrong about point 2 (have you seen the price of professional software lately?).

      As a graphic designer my experience with Getty is limited to the times I've licensed stock photos, I've never actually had them sell my work. I do use agencies for selling some of my stock vector graphics but there are multiple market places all in competition with each other and their cut is really quite small. I can't get my head around a £60 transaction fee, not unless the photo is being licensed for the better part of a grand. It might be true but it's not something I've come up against in my day to day work, it'd be cheaper to re-shoot a similar photo.


      As far as I'm aware most newspapers have an account set up with Getty Images. You just download what you want and pay the itemised bill. Larger media corporations are likely to have a subscription, they pay a flat rate for the year and can use whatever they want. The process you describe is for freelance photographers and it's really not that complicated. Agree a price over the phone, they enter the price into their standardised contract (via mail merge or something), fax it to you, you sign it and fax it back, they enter the photo into their DB, you get the cheque in the post. To be honest though, if I were a freelance photographer and a small newspaper wanted to license one of my images, I'd just direct them to my web store. They'd get a receipt stating what rights they have over the image and I'd get paid promptly.

  9. Zmodem

    its all kind of rubbish, copyright only exists if they put digital watermarks on the original they use on their site

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