Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Clay Shirky talks of the RIAA ‘Crush the Connectors’ strategy in his File-sharing Goes Social writing about the Internet. Shirky’s article traces the history of decentralised file sharing networks – Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa – and the RIAA strategy to put them out of action to protect the rights holder’s copyrights.

Shirky predicts that the result will be very small social networks where groups of trusted acquaintances or friends will readily share files in a relatively secure environment. That is an environment where illegal copying will not be easily exposed and then not easily prosecuted.

The Collective Rights philosophy identifies the same natural social interaction, where friends and relatives want to share, and accepts this situation. The Distributed Intellectual Property Rights system for regulating intellectual property then makes such an environment for limited sharing legal.

You might ask why this will be an improvement over the current copyright situation? By making small social sharing groups legal DIPR will further encourage formation of these groups and these groups, as Shirky says, might well then turn into buying groups. In addition, the DIPR system includes the author in every one of these tight knit groups by granting both the purchasing consumer and the author collective rights to the product. Collective rights identified by two persistent identifiers. It is these social ties that will build commercial support for the author not a sustained legal campaign by rights holders trying to limit copying.

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