Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Tech: Revisiting copyright...

A couple of interesting articles came across today. One story detailed the requirements for licensing under the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD standard. The other details the evil of this scheme and how it abuses the end user. Basically, these new licensing schemes aim to prevent the free flow of information by making practically everything proprietary. While I am all for business making a buck, it certainly shouldn't be at the expense of the consumer. These kinds of restrictions destroy consumer confidence, and tear apart the fabric which undergirds the era of limited restrictions to information in the internet age. Information is a power, that if wielded effectively, can make more money than it looses. New assaults by the RIAA and the MPAA demonstrate prime examples of how now the industry leaders are abusing the system to take advantage of the little guy. Continuing down this road will disenfranchise the end user, and place so many restrictions on technology that things as we know it will be tied up in profit sharing schemes.

A similar situation is developing with certain forms of web development. This article discusses the patent recently granted to a California company for AJAX, a rich media internet content software bundle. Many web developers utilize AJAX as a platform for creating dynamic websites. Many sites use AJAX, but are now subject to licensing fees. This, along with the developments with HD content demonstrate that the current system governing the interplay of law and technology is broken. The question is determining how to resolve the problems like archaic concepts of intangible property ownership. I don't have the answers, but a more libertarian approach would be my suggestion. If you make money on the initial release of information, like movies, music, or books, then criminalize sharing the information but permit the end user to transpose or convert the information in a manner in which they please. The purveyors of the information could also add a small licensing charge to the sale of applicable technology formats. Adding a surcharge to the sale of mp3 players is one example. While this does pose more risk, the interest in word of mouth marketing, the ease of availability, and the allure of expansive usability will draw more consumers, and quell the so called "piracy" culture. Much of this culture is driven by the oppressive practices of the major media companies. Alleviating this motivation will stabilize the distribution scheme. I think, to some extent, the open source movement demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach. Just a thought.

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