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.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

David Rothman has another great idea – an open common standard for e-books.

In my view an open standard for formatting the content of e-books almost exists. SGML is an open standard for document mark-up and XML is a more manageable implementation of SGML. A well-defined DTD might just finish the job. The Universal Consumer eBook proposal covers a lot of this ground. It also seems to me that an end-user mark-up language could be defined at the same time so that the consumer could transfer bookmarks, anchors, and notes from device to device as they move the book around. It would be then up to the technologists to make the latest gadgets handle these common mark-up standards.

What muddies the water are attempts to combine rights management (media control) with document formatting and mark-up. If rights management is needed at all it should be implemented at a separate level as a common rights management system for all digital information (text, music, video,..)

The collective rights regime calls for a common identification standard (a relatively simple goal), argues that rights control of identified products is unnecessary and predicts that the combination of these persistent identifiers and a common mark-up language will provide guarantied accessibility now and in the future.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

David Rothman of Teleread posted some thoughtful comments on my collective rights proposal and he urges people ‘to take a look at both CR and Creative Commons’.

Rothman is absolutely on target, Creative Commons is definitely pushing forward in the right direction by allowing authors to offer some of their copyrights to improve the lot of the consumer and they back this up with legal licenses. I even tinkered with the idea of publishing Common Rights under a Creative Commons license before I realized that I should have faith in my own system and use Property Rights Descriptors to protect my work while allowing others to access it.

The Creative Commons license scheme, however, has some shortcomings:

1) Creative Commons allows the author to give away some of their rights but they can’t specify to whom. This makes it difficult to use in a commercial situation where an author might like to give away some of their products for promotional reasons but license others for a reward.

2) There is no record of which product has which license; a third party can change or add a license to a product and hoodwink a forth party. Creative Commons recognizes this problem and is trying to instigate a ‘license verification link’ where a link in the product refers to the license metadata rather than only including the metadata in the product.

3) Creative Commons relies on the author to maintain the public copy of the license allocated to the product. This poses two problems:

a) The author can fail to maintain the site that holds the license metadata and therefore lose control of the product licensing.
b) The consumer could find himself or herself using a product for which they thought there was a Creative Commons license only to find that the rights holder has failed to support it. This is a critical weakness of the system for the consumer.

The Distributed Intellectual Property Rights philosophy addresses all these issues and more.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th PRD issued !

Today, four Property Right Descriptor (PRD) identifications were issued under the Distributed Intellectual Property Rights system. These four PRD’s uniquely identify the all the pages on the www.commonrights.com website and the printable version of this paper.

These manifestations of the DIPR product are registered to me and under the rules of the DIPR system this allows anyone to view these copies of the DIPR product but no one else is allowed to make copies of this work, claim they own it, or use it for any commercial purposes. If you would like to make non-commercial copies of my DIPR paper for your own reference, or to spread the word, please contact me and I will issue a PRD to you. (If you want to use this work commercially you should definitely contact me and maybe we can make a deal).

Why have four identifications been issued for only two works? Well, each product has two identifications; the first ID identifies the author (me) and the second ID identifies the consumer (in this case me again) who is allowed to hold one or more copies of the work. Please go to commonrights.com to find out how all this works.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Take the 'Copy' out of Copyright

If you take the copy out of copyright what are you left with? Rights. - When we are dealing with intellectual property everyone should have rights not just the author. The author, or their agent, has come to be known as the 'rights holder' and while I maintain the principle that the author should remain the primary rights holder I also suggest that others should also be able to obtain rights to the intellectual product.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Often, when people think of Copyright, MP3, file sharing, intellectual property, or digital rights management they think of either pirating or ‘big media’ taking control. This need not be the case. The Distributed Intellectual Property Rights (DIPR) environment changes this situation by granting rights to the legal user: the right to own the intellectual product, the right to copy it, the right to back-it-up, the right to a new copy if all else fails, the right to use it when and where they want, even the right to lend it. All this providing they don’t abuse the rights of the author.

You don’t think it will work! Read about collective rights and the DIPR system and tell me what you think.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Announcing the start of the Distributed Intellectual Property Rights Blog