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.