@AC Sunday 19th April 2009 00:01 GMT
First off props for taking the time to respond. Apologies if I came across as confrontational, had one too many arguments that day with people being disengenous over the whole issue. I realise now you're not.
"So, is the solution to regulate every site on the Internet in such a way that you need an "Internet licence" to get onto the net in the first place and to have every upload approved by some government appointee? Or is the solution to have DRM on everything? You're not really proposing any solution as such"
No. And I honestly don't know what the ideal solution is either. Its not necessary to have it however in order to recognise when something is broken. How is allowing a third party (e.g. TPB) to profit at the complete expense of artists an improvement over the status quo of allowing a third party (e.g. record companies) to profit mostly at the expense of artists?
Personally I think that a certain amount of "piracy" is healthy as it prevents groups like the record companies from having a complete monopoly and charging whatever they want. Not every download is a lost sale. I strongly believe that if you're "in" to your music for example it can be mutually beneficial (e.g. discovery leading to purchases, gigs, etc).
Equally however some downloads probably are lost sales especially among people with a more a casual interest. Different ways of recompensing everyone involved are needed because you can't compete directly against free. If as seems to be the case, advertising alone is not sustainable we may have to consider something like taking a cut of say broadband subscriptions into a pool for sharing out. There would be issues on how the money divided out and making sure it doesn't go into a blackhole like it does alot of the time now. DRM could actually serve a useful purpose tracking the numbers of different downloads in order to do this. Of course there'll be the usual pissing and moaning that its not fair for people who don't dowload etc. However I don't see it being much different from the way we all contribute (e.g. tax) to things we may not make use of directly and vice versa.
Ending the use of DRM to lock content down (except for say content being rented out or supplied on a subscription basis) and offering more legal alternatives would also help. And we are slowly heading in that direction already. 2 years ago I struggled to find any digital store carrying the kind of music I enjoy. Now I can buy albums for even some of my more obscure bands from Amazon MP3 for a fairly reasonable £5-7. Sure theres still a way to go. It would be nice for example to have higher quality encoding available more widely (e.g. FLAC). Services like Last.fm could offer a subscription services with unlimited streaming and perhaps member benefits (e.g. discounts off download to own, merch, etc)
"At what point does "protecting the rights holder" become an excuse for shoring up the status quo in a much wider sense?"
Thats exactly the point though, it shouldn't be. I honestly believe there is debate to be had on copyright/filesharing but it is a separate one from wider issue of freedom of speech/net neutrality. The latter is not and should not be about the right to help yourself to someone else's work for free when they have no recompense. By hijacking the issue TPB are undermining the argument for something far more valuable: to keep the web as one the place where we can have the closest thing to true freedom of speech.
"Just because you choose not to see the connection between broader "intellectual property" regulation and the political enthusiasm for the "knowledge economy"
Perhaps I can't see the wood for the trees again but I honestly think that the connection in this case is limited. They crossed the line from accepting donations/sponsorhip to actively making money (e.g. from ad revenue, selling merch, etc even if I'm prepared to accept it barely covered running costs, which I don't). Consequently I have difficulty in believing that there is a wider principle at stake.
The judgement itself does not as far as I can see change where the legal lines are currently drawn. IP laws remain the same and the same safe harbour provisions are available to services with plausible non-infringing uses. TPB were so blatantly the wrong side of the line I don't see how its possible to defend them without being disingenuous.
Don't get me wrong I realise there serious problems with IP regulation (and quite a lot of other things) at the moment. What started as a well intentioned to encourage and reward innovation has been perverted into a way of making money at the expense of the very things it was supposed to ensure. The lower bar set for patents and ever increasing duration of the exclusive rights granted are only part of whats gone wrong. And you're absolutely right how our consumer goods are made should not be someone's problem seeing as we are responsible for the demand in the first place.
However for reasons stated I don't believe the TPB case was about any of these things and that to link them is to trivialise the the wider issues.
@ Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 20th April 2009 09:50 GMT
"It is NOT TRUE that people have to make a living from their art"
You're right. However I'd argue the world would be poorer place culturally if this became the norm.
Sure professions have died out over time but nearly always due to lack of demand. This is NOT the same as people not having to pay. There IS obviously still demand for things like music, movies, games, etc otherwise people wouldn't be downloading them. Thing is its now possible for people to get what they want for free.
This isn't a problem if we find a way of recompensing artists fairly (e.g. through advertising, donations, indirect sales generated by publicity, etc). Otherwise we all lose out, as less art ends up being produced due to artists having to make a living by other means. Warm fuzzy feelings don't pay bills.
No doubt in such a situation many will try to carry on doing their art because of the enjoyment it brings them and others. However they have the money already (or patrons with money) it likely be at their own expense. Why is this something we want to aspire to? Do we really want to return to the days where art was a preserve of the rich? On a more general level, why should people be expected to give you something (e.g. entertainment) in exchange for nothing?