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Copyright Business

The other side of the copyright story - the so-called ‘new business models’ - receives far less attention at a policy level than the enforcement measures.  The industry lobbying is overweight with recommendations for way s that governments can impose restrictions in order to protect copyright material. Conversely, the debate is less about how changing a business model can overcome the issues around the online dissemination of infringing content.  

This issue has, of course, moved on a lot since I began this blog in 2008. Streaming has become the music industry's favoured business model, and  streaming services like Spotify have blossomed. This has shifted the landscape. However, it is historically true that each time a new technology appears, the industries that have vested interests in copyright, increase the intensity of their lobbying. It is important for those engaged in copyright policy, to keep an eye on new developments and understand their implications and the opportunities for new ways to structure the entertainment and music businesses. 

 In this section, I have been logging information about the business of copyright.  The idea is to begin to get a feel for the financial issues of the copyright industries and how to link them to policy decisions. Thus, it may seem a bit disjointed and sketchy, but it may provide threads for further investigation and to see where it leads. My feeling is that what policy-makers should not be asking is ‘how big a problem is the downloading of copyrighted content?’ but rather, ‘what are the real problems in the copyright business?’. and not 'how can we protect copyrights?' but rather 'how can we achieve revenues for the copyright industries in the online environment?'

Report from the ISP Future Content  Models and Enforcment Strategies Summit 2008, Kensington, London

 

The Motion Picture Association (MPA)  - the  Hollywood trade association -  has weighed into the debate around an Internet levy to pay for publicly-funded entertainment with a clear 'no'. Speaking at the  ISP Future Content  Models and Enforcement Strategies Summit 2008, Ted Shapiro, MPA  legal counsel, warned against "turning the Internet into one big compulsory licence".  Expanding on what he meant, he said "you pay your ISP a few Euros per month and we all get a cheque. 

The possibility of a levy on the Internet is being quietly floated by a number of people as an option to deal with file-sharing, and to generate money for content production. I have mostly heard it from members of the rights-holder community, such as the British music industry, and the French cultural lobby. The people more likely to oppose it, are the ISPs themselves - and that could make for an interesting partnership option for the MPA. 

The Walt Disney Co, one of the leading lobby-ists for 'riposte graduee' in the EU and in France, has had a "fantastic quarter"  for the first three months of 2008.  According to Reuters. Disney outperformed the analysts expectations, with a a 17 per cent rise in operating income, and a 22 per cent rise in profits. Its broadcasting arm, ABC, has claimed a 'double digit' rise in advertising income. The company  was rewarded by the markets with a 1.6 per cent rise in the share price on the day the results were announced.

 Analysts are even saying that Disney is "recession resistant" and is showing more signs of a going through a boom market  than a troubled one. 

The question for the legislators should therefore be whether  such a firm really needs political support like the French 'riposte graduee' proposals, to underpin it, especially to the extent of changing some fundamental European legal principles such as data protection and mere conduit?  

 

 

New technologies to improve peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies are appearing behind the scenes - and they offer a pointed  reposte  to the content industries about how to deal with P2P downloading.  They demonstrate ways to solve the problem by technical means. And when you consider this carefully, it means you can  demolish the IFPI / MPAA argument that the only way to reduce P2P traffic on the networks is through litigation and sanction - or that P2P traffic can be reduced at all.  

 

P4P is a way for ISPs to tidy up the P2P traffic and reduce the amount of bandwidth it users - P4P is, if you like, a technically neater way to transmit P2P traffic, and will help reduce the network management overhead for ISPs.   The core group of companies developing P4P*  consists of a number of ISPs, mostly American, hand in glove with P2P companies like BitTorrent and Limewire, plus a few stalwart equipment manufacturers like Cisco. And  - this is where  it gets really interesting - on the list of observers is - well, you guessed didn't you? - the Motion Picture Association of America, NBC Universal (part-owned by Vivendi), Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting - all the content industry heavyweights. 

 

Read more: P4P riposte to IFPI / MPA muck-spreading

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

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Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing. I am on the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group.  I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. For more, see About Iptegrity

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The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review


 

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