Sunday, August 07, 2005

Copyright's Doomspeakers and Healers

I'm somewhat fascinated by research reports that cater to subjective interests and promise doom or golden mountains if some sort of solution is (not) implemented. The solution, or part thereof, is usually included in the report, available at several hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The title of the following report captures it all: The Global Copyright Pandemic: A First-Aid Kit for Publishers and Information Providers. Even if this title has the ingredients of doom and salvation, I think it is not particularly well-chosen. Judging on the title alone one would think that the world is about to collapse under an apocalyptic copyright epidemic, and all the report offers is a first-aid kid. Some disinfectors and bandages to put on a stinking wound that spreads like wildfire.

Luckily there's more than a title to judge on: a press release, since I can't afford to spend $695.00 to read "startling statistics on common user behaviors and attitudes" and get into the safe zone. A taste of what's upon us:
The Internet has led to a copyright infringement pandemic that is sweeping the globe, and the information industry has failed to respond, according to Outsell, Inc. The analysts estimate that 89 percent of workplace information users forward Web content -- including text, pictures and video -- without knowledge of or concern for copyright protections. This puts employers at risk and robs the information industry of big revenues.
Yes, big revenues, the gold that's lost by unrestrained sharing of information due to the internet. I can only wonder if the report touches on the extra work productivity and revenues provided by this sharing, but I have to do it with a snip of the salvation that's in the first-aid kit:
"What's missing from the industry associations is a coordinated effort to clarify the mixed messages about copyright that leave users befuddled and indifferent. It's not about being a bad guy, or aggressively pursuing litigation, or clamping down on distribution with technology or burdensome copy restrictions, but rather about taking a stand, setting boundaries, and eliminating the ambiguity that users experience. That unified industry approach to copyright is missing today."
That's the tue preacher's message: don't come down with force, but spread a clear, unified message to change user behaviour. Don't fix technology that allows widespread sharing with legal and technological measures, but tell users they shouldn't reach for the apple of knowledge that's right at their finger tips. I would consider this an ambiguousus message, if I was an "industry association": take a stand, but don't get hated for doing so. But then, I would make sure to buy this report, for you don't want to miss out on a possible antidotede to the copyright pandemic and the golden mountains on the horizon.


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