Joho the Blog » 2011 » November

November 30, 2011

Are “data hogs” the problem?

Benoît Felten and Herman Wagter have published a follow up to their 2009 article “Is the ‘bandwidth hog’ a myth?.” The new article (for sale, but Benoit summarizes it on his blog) analyzes data from a mid-size North American ISP and confirms their original analysis: Data caps are at best a crude tool for targeting the users who most affect the amount of available bandwidth.

Read Benoît’s post for the details (or at least a fairly detailed overview of the details). But here’s the gist:

Benoît and Herman looked at the actual usage data in five minute increments of broadband customers sharing a single aggregation link. They looked both at the total number of megabytes being downloaded (= data consumption) and the number of megabits per second being used (= bandwidth usage).

They found that there is indeed a set of users who download a whole lot: “The top 1% of data consumers…account for 20% of the overall consumption.” But half of these “Very Heavy consumers” are doing so on plans that give them only 3Mbps, as opposed to the highest tier of this particular ISP, which is 6Mbps. So, even with their heavy consumption, their bandwidth usage is already limited. Further, if you look at who is using the most bandwidth during peak hours, 85.3% of the bandwidth is being used by those are not Very Heavy users.

Here’s the point. ISP assumes that Very Heavy users (= “data hogs” = “people who use the bandwidth they’re paying for”) are responsible for clogging the digital arteries. So, the ISPs measure data consumption in order to preserve bandwidth. But, according to Benoît and Herman’s data, the vast bulk of bandwidth during the times when bandwidth is scarce (= peak hours) is not taken up by the Very Heavy users. Thus, punishing people for downloading too much inhibits the wrong people. Data consumption is not a good measure of critical broadband usage.

Put differently: “42% of all customers (and nearly 48% of active customers) are amongst the top 10% of bandwidth users at one point or another during peak hours.” The problem therefore is not “data hogs.” It’s people going about their normal business of using the Net during the most convenient hours.

I asked Benoît (via email) what he thinks would be a more effective and fair way of limiting usage during peak hours, and he replied:

throttling everyone indiscriminately during actual peaks (ie. not predetermined times that could be considered peak) would be a fairer solution, although the cost of implementing that should be weighed against the cost of increasing the capacity in the aggregation, core and transit. The economics don’t necessarily work. And of course, that would affect all users, and might create dissatisfaction. But it would be fair and more effective.

In any case, the data suggest that “data hogs” are not the main culprits causing bandwidth scarcity. The real problem is you and me using our bandwidth non-hoggishly.

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November 29, 2011

[2b2k] Curation without trucks

If users of a physical library could see the thousands of ghost trucks containing all the works that the library didn’t buy backing away from the library’s loading dock, the idea of a library would seem much less plausible. Rather than seeming like a treasure trove, it would look like a relatively arbitrary reduction.

It’s not that users or librarians think there is some perfect set (although it wasn’t so long ago that picking a shelf’s worth of The Great Books seemed not only possible but laudable). Everyone is pragmatic about this. Users understand that libraries make decisions based on a mix of supporting popular tastes and educating to preferred tastes: The Iliad is going to survive being culled even though it has far fewer annual check-outs than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Curating is a practical art and libraries are good at it. But curating into a single collection that happens to fit within a library-sized building increasingly looks like a response to the weaknesses of material goods, rather than as an appropriate appreciation of their cultural value. Curation has always meant identifying the exceptions, but with the new assumption of abundance, curators look for exceptions to be excluded, rather than to be included. In the Age of the Net, we’re coming to believe that just about everything deserves to be in the library for one reason or another.

It seems to me there are two challenges here. The first is redeploying the skills of curators within a hyper-abundant world that supports multiple curations without cullings. That seems to me eminently possible and valuable. The second is cultivating tastes when there are so many more paths of least cognitive and aesthetic resistance. And that is a far more difficult, even implausible, challenge.

That is, our technology makes it easy to have multiple curations equally available, but our culture wants (has wanted?) some particular curations to have priority. Unless trucks are physically removing the works outside the preferred collection, how we are going to enforce our cultural preferences?

The easy solution is to give up on the attempt. The Old White Man’s canon is dead, and good riddance. But you don’t have to love old white men to believe that culture requires education — despite what Nikolas Sarkozy believes, we don’t “naturally” love complex works of art without knowing anything about their history or context — and that education requires taking some harder paths, rather than always preferring the easier, more familiar roads. I won’t argue further for this because it’s a long discussion and I have nothing to say that you haven’t already thought. So, for the moment take it as an hypothesis.

This I think makes clear what one of the roles of the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) should be.

Ed Summers has warned that the DPLA needs to be different from the Web. If it is simply an index of what is already available, then it has not done its job. It seems to me that even if it curates a collection of available materials it has not done its job. It is not enough to curate. It is not even enough to curate in a webby way that enables users to participate in the process. Rather, it needs to be (imo) a loosely curated assemblage that is rich in helping us not only to find what is of value, but to appreciate the value of what we find. It can do that in the traditional ways — including items in the collection, including them in special lists, providing elucidations and appreciations of the items — as well as in non-traditional, crowd-sourced, hyperlinked ways. The DPLA needs to be rich and ever richer in such tools. The curated works should become ever more embedded into a network of knowledge and appreciation.

So, yes, part of the DPLA should be that it is a huge curated collection of collections. But curation now only has reliable value if it can bring us to appreciate why those curatorial decisions were made. Otherwise, it can seem as if we’re simply looking at that which the trucks left behind.

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November 27, 2011

Bread, Freedom, Social Justice: A report from Egypt

Here is an email Nagla Rizk sent to the Berkman mailing list. I’m posting it with her permission.

When we stormed the streets last January, we chanted “Aish, Horreya, Adala Egtema’eya” (“Bread, Freedom, Social Justice”). We knew exactly what we wanted: a better livelihood for all. At the time, Egypt was experiencing high rates of economic “growth”, a superficial sign of positive economic performance that did not trickle down to the masses. Part corruption part inaction, a 4-5% (or even the earlier 7%) growth rate was by itself meaningless as it did nothing to alleviate poverty or ease the merciless income inequality.

Equally serious was the iron grip on freedom of expression. In a typical Arab regime manner, Egypt focused on encouraging economic freedoms in the strictest neoclassical sense, while simultaneously continuing to harshly stifle political freedoms. Not surprisingly, Egypt fared relatively well on indices of doing business, while performed dismally on democracy and freedom indices.

The January chant, therefore, was a fierce cry against this asymmetry. More deeply, it was a cry for real development, one encompassing freedom of expression coupled with poverty alleviation and better income distribution. The cry of the masses reflected a street awareness of the complexity of development as human dignity and active citizenry — an enlightenment that the ruling elite lacked.

Ten months down the road, yesterday we chanted in Tahrir, “Aish, Horreya, Adala Egtema’eya” (“Bread, Freedom, Social Justice”). Why?

Bread and Social Justice:

No one expected bread and social justice right away. People wanted a roadmap, a plan, a timeline. They got none. Naturally, what emerged was a series of demonstrations and strikes by employees and workers whose demands were never acknowledged, let alone addressed. Rather than tackling the root of the problem or starting a dialogue with the protesters, SCAF chose to order them to go home. To add insult to injury, SCAF and its government portrayed them as the cause of instability, turning the rest of Egypt against them. Dividing Egyptians has been a repeated tactic by SCAF, supported by state media.

Meanwhile, the economy has suffered gravely. Tourism and foreign investments have been the obvious casualties. Egypt’s net foreign reserves have fallen from $36 billion in 2010 to $22 billion, its credit rating has been downgraded, prices continue to rise and the budget deficit to swell. The stock exchange has plummeted. The central bank has just announced it raised interest rates for the first time since 2009 to protect local deposits and the Egyptian pound. The rise in the cost of borrowing would lead to further contraction in the economy. As the state of street safety worsens thanks to SCAF’s incompetence, the economy continues to weaken.

Aggravating the situation has been the perception of the business class as allies of the old regime. This has put all members of the business community in one pot: the corrupt. The anti capitalist rhetoric (global really) has fed into calls for tighter regulation of the private sector within a general anti business environment. In addition to scaring away potential investors, the sad news is that several entrepreneurs and small business owners have closed down and workers have been laid off, compounding unemployment. Hardly any support would be expected from an incredibly weak government whose ministers are too scared to sign into backing businesses lest they should be seen as favoring the ‘corrupt’.

Egypt’s economy is in trouble. And as SCAF prolongs the transitional period, further instability is witnessed and foreseen.

Freedom?

The political atmosphere under SCAF is no different from Mubarak’s. Indeed, we are still under Mubarak’s emergency law of 30 years. So far, 12,000 civilians have been subjected to military trials. Currently our good friend Alaa AbdelFattah, the prominent activist and blogger, is detained by SCAF for refusing to answer as a civilian to a military tribunal. SCAF and Egypt’s police continue to torture detainees. Egyptian women detained by SCAF were subjected to virginity tests.

SCAF have also carried out unprecedented attacks on media, specifically attacking the premises of two television stations, both documented on video. SCAF have also exerted pressure on media content. Recently a prominent TV person withdrew his popular show in protest against SCAF’s pressure. And of course state media has continued to deliver false messages in support of SCAF.

On March 19, we excitedly participated in a referendum on 9 constitutional amendments to the 1971 constitution. The amendments were accepted by a 77% majority. Right after, SCAF dictatorially issued a constitutional declaration with 63 articles including the amendments with some editorial changes. This nulled the old constitution. Article 56 of the declaration gave SCAF their legitimacy as rulers of Egypt. This was not subject to a referendum.

On October 9, we wept witnessing the Maspero massacre, where SCAF vehicles brutally run down street protesters in scenes that moved the whole world. SCAF’s attempt to justify this act as carried out by civilians who stole military vehicles is laughable. If true (which it is not), such claim would illustrate the utter failure of SCAF to maintain security on the street. Additionally, attempts by SCAF and State TV to portray Maspero as a sectarian strife is another example of how SCAF labors to fuel divisions among Egyptians. No less is SCAF’s maneuvers to flirt with different political factions – first the Muslim Brotherhood and later the ‘liberal’ parties.

And now last week’s incidents in Tahrir and elsewhere in Egypt, particularly Mohamed Mahmoud Street. We have all witnessed footage of the atrocities of police officers shooting at Egyptians. SCAF representative and Minister of Interior have come out denying any shooting. This is an insult to Egyptians’ intelligence, no less than all SCAF crimes being investigated by committees assigned by SCAF themselves.

In short, we have a clear failure of SCAF to lead the political transition and to allow for proper management of the economy by an independent government. SCAF has ruled with an iron fist, with a very weak government in place. A mix of political naivite and the desire to protect own interests (they are a major recipient of US aid and a major economic player), SCAF’s amateur performance has brought to disarray the politics and economics of a very complex country.

Today…

As I write, Egyptians are divided yet again, thanks to SCAF’s insistence amidst this chaos to run elections on Monday and not two weeks later. Some want to boycott the elections. Among them are those who believe that voting will give SCAF legitimacy, which they refuse. Others believe their votes will be rigged in favor of SCAF’s interests. A third group is simply worried about the lack of security at the voting stations.

Boycotting the elections would be a grave mistake in my opinion. For the first time in years, we have a chance to choose representatives who would take us one step towards building a democratic state. It is our chance on the road to freedom.

The atmosphere in Egypt is now grim. Elections are around the corner while our people continue to be subjected to police brutality. Yesterday SCAF appointed a new prime minister who is refused on the street. Tahrir is coming up with an alternative. As I write now, a statement is being read on TV: revolutionary forces met with El Baradei who is willing to head a national salvation government if asked to do so by SCAF. And he would give up the nomination for presidency. No one knows what will happen in the next hour.

In the meantime, we continue to defy, mourn and hope. One thing we know: we should not again be storming out calling for bread, freedom and social justice.

Nagla Rizk
Cairo
November 26th, 2011
11.42 pm

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November 22, 2011

Physical libraries in a digital world

I’m at the final meeting of a Harvard course on the future of libraries, led by John Palfrey and Jeffrey Schnapp. They have three guests in to talk about physical library space.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

David Lamberth lays out an idea as a provocation. He begins by pointing out that until the beginning of the 20th century, a library was not a place but only a collection of books. He gives a quick history of Harvard Library. After the library burned down in 1764, the libraries lived in fear of fire, until electric lights came in. The replacement library (Gore Hall) was built out of stone because brick structures need wood on the inside. But stone structures are dank, and many books had to be re-bound every 30 years. Once it filled up, 25-30 of Harvard libraries derived from the search for fireproof buildings, which helps explain the large distribution of libraries across campus. They also developed more than 40 different classification systems. At the beginning of the 20th C, Harvard’s collection was just over one million. Now it adds up to around 18M. [David's presentation was not choppy, the way this paraphrase is.]

In the 1980s, there was continuing debate about what to do about the need for space. The big issue was open or closed stacks. The faculty wanted the books on site so they could be browsed. But stack space is expensive and you tend to outgrow it faster than you think. So, it was decided not to build any more stack space. There already was an offsite repository (New England Book Depository), but it was decided to build a high density storage facility to remove the non-active parts of the collection to a cheaper, off-site space: The Harvard Depository (HD).

Now more than 40% of the physical collections are at HD. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences started out hostile to the idea, but “soon became converted.” The notion faculty had of browsing the shelves was based on a fantasy: Harvard had never had all the books on a subject on a shelf in a single facility. E.g., search on “Shakespeare” in the Harvard library system: 18,000 hits. Widener Library is where you’d expect to find Shakespeare books. But 8,000 of the volumes aren’t in Widener. Of Widener’s 10K Shakespeare, volumes, 4,500 are in HD. So, 25% of what you meant to browse is there. “Shelf browsing is a waste of time” if you’re trying to do thorough research. It’s a little better in the smaller libraries, but the future is not in shelf browsing. Open and closed stacks isn’t the question any more. “It’s just not possible any longer to do shelf browsing, unless we develop tools for browsing in a non-physical fashion.” E.g., catalog browsers, and ShelfLife (with StackView).

There’s nobody in the stacks any more. “It’s like the zombies have come and cleared people out.” People have new alternatives, and new habits. “But we have real challenges making sure they do as thorough research as possible, and that we leverage our collection.” About 12M of the 18M items are barcoded.

A task force saw that within 40 years, over 70% of the physical collection will be off site. HD was not designed to hold the part of the collection most people want to use. So, what can do that will give us pedagogical and intellectual benefit, and realizes the incredible resource that our collection is?

Let me present one idea, says David. The Library Task Force said emphatically that Harvard’s collection should be seen as one collection. It makes sense intellectually and financially. But that idea is in contention with the 56 physical libraries at Harvard. Also, most of our collection doesn’t circulate. Only some of it is digitally browsable, and some of that won’t change for a long long long time. E.g., our Arabic journals in Widener aren’t indexed, don’t publish cumulative indexes, and are very hard to index. Thus scholars need to be able to pull them off the shelves. Likewise for big collections of manuscripts that haven’t even been sorted yet.

One idea would be to say: Let’s treat physical libraries as one place as well. Think of them as contiguous, even though they’re not. What if bar-coded books stayed in the library you returned to them to? Not shelved by a taxonomy. Random access via the digital, and it tells you where the work is. And build perfect shelves for the works that need to be physically organized. Let’s build perfect Shakespeare shelves. Put them in one building. The other less-used works will be findable, but not browsable. This would require investing in better findability systems, but it would let us get past the arbitrariness of classification systems. Already David will usually go to Amazon to decide if he wants a book rather than take the 5 mins to walk to the library. By focusing on perfect shelves for what is most important to be browsable, resources would be freed up. This might make more space in the physical libraries, so “we could think about what the people in those buildings want to be doing,” so people would come in because there’s more going on. (David notes that this model will not go over well with many of his colleagues.)

53% of library space at Harvard is stack space. The other 47% is split between patron space and space staff. About 20-25% is space staff. Comparatively, Harvard is lower on patron space size than typical. The HD is holding half the collection in 20% of the space. It’s 4x as expensive to store a work on a stack on campus than off.

David responds to a question: The perfect shelves should be dynamic, not permanent. That will better serve the evolution of research. There are independent variables: Classification and shelf location. We certainly need classification, but it may not need to map to shelf locations. Widener has bibliographic lists and shelf lists. Barcodes give us more freedom; we don’t have to constantly return works to fixed locations.

Mike Barker: Students already build their own perfect shelves with carrels.

Q: What’s the case for ownership and retention if we’re only addressing temporal faculty needs?

A lot of the collecting in the first half of the 20 C was driven by faculty requests. Not now. The question of retention and purchase splits on the basis of how uncommon the piece of info is. If it’s being sold by Amazon, I don’t think it really matters if we retain it, because of the number of copies and the archival steps already in place. The more rare the work, the more we should think about purchase and retention. But under a third of the stack space on campus ideal environmental conditions. We shouldn’t put works we buy into those circumstances unless they’re being used.

Q: At the Law Library, we’re trying to spread it out so that not everyone is buying the same stuff. E.g., we buy Peruvian materials because other libraries aren’t. And many law books are not available digitally, so we we buy them … but we only buy one copy.

Yes, you’re making an assessment. In the Divinity library, Mike looked at the duplication rate. It was 53%. That is, 53% of our works are duplicated in other Harvard libraries.

Mike: How much do we spend on classification? To create call numbers? We annually spend about 1.5-2M on it, plus another million shelving it. So, $3M-3.5M total. (Mike warns that this is a “very squishy” number.) We circulate about 700,000 items a years. The total operating budget of the Library is about $152M. (He derived this number by asking catalogers who long it takes to classify an item without one, divided into salary.)

David: Scanning in tables of contents, indexes, etc., lets people find things without having to anticipate what they’re going to be interested in.

Q: Where does serendipity fall in this? What about when you don’t know what you’re looking for?

David: I agree completely. My dissertation depended on a book that no one had checked out since 1910. I found it on the stacks. But it’s not on the shelves now. Suppose I could ask a research librarian to bring me two shelves worth of stuff because I’m beginning to explore some area.

Q: What you’re suggesting won’t work so well for students. How would not having stacks affect students?

David: I’m being provocative but concrete. The status quo is not delivering what we think it does, and it hasn’t for the past three decades.

Q: [jeff goldenson] Public librarians tell us that the recently returned trucks are the most interesting place to go. We don’t really have the ability to see what’s moving in the Harvard system. Yes, there are privacy concerns, but just showing what books have been returned would be great.

Q: [palfrey] How much does the rise of the digital affect this idea? Also, you’ve said that the storage cost of a digital object may be more than that of physical objects. How does that affect this idea?

David: Copyright law is the big If. It’s not going away. But what kind of access do you have to digital objects that you own? That’s a huge variable. I’ve premised much of what I’ve said on the working notion that we will continue to build physical collections. We don’t know how much it will cost to keep a physical object for a long time. And computer scientists all say that digital objects are not durable. My working notion here is that the parts that are really crucial are the metadata pieces, which are more easily re-buildable if you have the physical objects. We’re not going to buy physical objects for all the digital items, so the selection principle goes back to how grey or black the items are. It depends on whether we get past the engineering question about digital durability — which depends a lot on electromagnetism as a storage medium, which may be a flash in the pan. We’re moving incrementally.

Q: [me] If we can identify the high value works that go on perfect shelves, why not just skip the physical shelves and increase the amount of metadata so that people can browse them looking for the sort of info they get from going to the physical shelf?

A: David: Money. We can’t spend too much on the present at the expense of the next century or two. There’s a threshold where you’d say that it’s worth digitizing them to the degree you’d need to replace physical inspection entirely. It’s a considered judgment, which we make, for example, when we decide to digitize exhibitions. You’d want to look at the opportunity costs.

David suggests that maybe the Divinity library (he’s in the Phil Dept.) should remove some stacks to make space for in-stack work and discussion areas. (He stresses that he’s just thinking out loud.)

Matthew Sheehy, who runs HD, says they’re thinking about how to keep books 500 years. They spend $300K/year on electricity to create the right environment. They’ve invested in redundancy. But, the walls of the HD will only last 100 years. [Nov. 25: I may have gotten the following wrong:] He thinks it costs about $1/ year to store a book, not the usual figure of $0.45.

Jeffrey Schnapp: We’re building a library test kitchen. We’re interested in building physical shelves that have digital lives as well.

[Nov. 25: Changed Philosophy school to Divinity, in order to make it correct. Switched the remark about the cost of physical vs. digital in the interest of truth.]

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November 21, 2011

[avignon] What I learned at Avignon about the Internet

So what did I learn at the Forum d’Avignon about the fate of the Internet in Europe?

It’s of course impossible to distill the entire conference, especially since much of the benefit was getting to meet some fascinating people. And, it’s impossible to feel confident about these lessons because the event consisted of 450 invited guests, so my sample was skewed, even though there was an attempt to achieve balance across cultures, beliefs, and genders. (Fully half of the attendees were women.) Nevertheless, …

Within this set of policy makers and large industry players, there is a conviction that the Internet is primarily a threat that has put all of culture and creativity at risk.

Why do they see it that way? Many of them are content publishers. To them, the Net looks like a competitive publishing medium that connects cultural content to consumers via search engines. Although the conference puts this concern in terms of the failure of the Net to connect consumers to worthy objects of culture, virtually all the public discussion was about the economic threat the current purveyors of mass culture feel. They believe that without the strictest enforcement of copyright, creators won’t be able to earn a living, and thus the Net will kill culture. The idea that the Net is actually the greatest engine of culture in history was expressed only three times, each time by Americans. [The next day: That last sentence is an overstatement. Americans expressed this idea the most directly and forcefully, it seems to me, but not solely.]

Authors rights were taken at the Forum as an economic imperative and as a moral imperative. There is no sense at all that those rights might be usefully balanced with the rights of “consumers” and makers. None. Zilch. Fair Use — granted, an American concept — was raised once in passing. (Victoria Espinel, Obama’s IP Czar, mentioned it, very positively.) The attendees were so convinced that authors’ rights are supreme that they left the conference convinced that there is consensus on the topic. Indeed, the conference ended with a summary of the ministerial summit on culture that was held in parallel with the first day of the conference: All the stakeholders agree on the supreme importance of fighting piracy. Of course, that ministerial meeting [Later: it was called the Cultural Summit, I have learned] included no users at all. So much for “all the stakeholders.” (I pointed this out to the person who convened the meeting (which I was not at, of course), and he said that the government representatives were there to represent users.)

Because of their view of the Net as a publishing medium, and because of the abundance of content on the Net, the dominant paradigm of the Forum views Google as the center of the Net. The participants thus wondered what sort of legislation is required to enforce “search neutrality” against Google. Now, there is no denying that Google is a center of the Net, and its algorithms have a great deal of effect on which pages are seen. But the participants at the Forum had what seemed to me to be a monomaniacal focus on Google, which makes sense if you’re thinking of the Net as a pile of content mediated by an index. They seemed to have no sense that there are living networks of people recommending and linking outside of Google’s search box. And for many of us, the transformative effect of the Net has been as a social place, not as an information medium.

Based on random interactions, it seems to me that at this meeting the small coalition that supported users’ rights as well as authors’ rights consisted of Americans, librarians, and students. Had there been more hackers here, I suspect they’d join our little band, but engineers, geeks and techies were woefully under-represented.

Overall, quite depressing, with the most profound anti-Internet sentiment coming from President Sarkozy in an 1.5 talk and discussion he favored us with.

Vive l’internet ouvert!

[All errors in French due to Google Translate.]

________

It is true that European Commissioner Neelie Kroes attacked the focus on copyright as misguided. Many in the media seem to have heard this as a call for copyright reform. (Here’s my live-blogging of her remarks.) I did not. I thought she was fully backing the rights of authors and strong copyright protection, but saying that we need to do more to create business models that create more money for creators. I did not hear Neelie suggesting copyright reform. I hope I’m wrong.

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James Boyle on three frames for copyright

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November 20, 2011

Berkman Buzz

This week’s Berkman Buzz:

  • VIDEO: Justin Reich discusses technology and educational equality:
    link

  • Juan Carlos de Martin publishes an op-ed in La Stampa on Italy’s digital agenda [in Italian] link

  • The Citizen Media Law Project reviews an ACLU/NAACP lawsuit revolving around an ad at the Philly International Airport link

  • Dan Gillmor argues against SOPA link

  • Herdict attends the first EU Hackathon link

  • Harry Lewis reviews this week’s government attacks on freedom of speech and thought link

  • Weekly Global Voices: “Zambia: Porn Video Sparks Debate on Gender, Culture and Morality” link

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November 19, 2011

[avignon] Google’s Cultural Institute

Steve Crossan, head of the Cultural Institute in Paris, is demo-ing Google’s super spiffy swirling virtual bookcase. The Cultural Institute was set up in April. It’s a group of engineers. They’re building tools and services for the cultural sector, to help people get to online content in an emotionally engaging way.

One pilot project: Dead Sea Scrolls online, searchable and zoomable. Another the WebGL Bookcase.

Another: Memory of a Nation. In 2012 they’re focusing on bringing together archival content with personal testimony.

They’re also developing a physical space. In a virtual world, what shall one do with a physical space to explore culture? The space will be opening in April-May 2012.

Steve introduces Amit Sood to talk about the Google Art Project. He was working on Android, but spent his 20% time (“on Saturdays and Sundays” :) on a collaborative project with 17 great museums. It launched on Feb 1. It’s trying to give an idea of how to enjoy the museums and art in a different way.

He points out that it does not look like a Google page. He goes to a Brueggel at the Met. He zooms in extremely tight (brushstroke close) and very easily, without obvious latency. The “gigapixel” zoom is crazy good. There’s an info panel with plenty of info, including multi-media. You can also do a street view through the museum. (Not all the paintings are at the gigapixel level.) You can add artworks to your personal collections, and annotate it, including sharing details. (The details can always be zoomed back out.) You can share your collections on any social medium.

Why did Google do the project? It started out of passion, not out of corporate strategy. But after they launched, it got a lot of internal support. The four person team was multicultural. Access to info is critical, he says. He grew up in India, where simply walking into a museum was not a real possibility. He reminds us how lucky we are. That was his personal motivation. Other team members did it in order to create new audiences. How can we reduce the snob factor of museums? Finally, because it’s an immersive experience.

25M people have visited. 100,000 collections. Version 2 is coming.

Q: Will you open archives of unplayed music? And can artists create their own gigapixel images?

A: We’re working with archives.

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[avignon] [2b2k] Robert Darnton on the history of copyright , open access, the dpla…

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

We begin with a report on a Ministerial meeting yesterday here on culture — a dialogue among the stakeholders on the Internet. [No users included, I believe.] All agreed on the principles proposed at Deauville: It is a multi-stakeholder ecosystem that complies with law. In this morning’s discussion, I was struck by the convergence: we all agree about remunerating copyright holders. [Selection effect. I favor copyright and remunerating rights holders, but not as the supreme or exclusive value.] We agree that there are more legal alternatives. We agree that the law needs to be enforced. No one argued with that. [At what cost?] And we all agree we need international cooperation, especially to fight piracy.

Now Robert Darnton, Harvard Librarian, gives an invited talk about the history of copyright.

Darnton: I am grateful to be here. And especially grateful you did not ask me to talk about the death of the book. The book is not dead. More books are being produced in print and online every year than in the previous year. This year, more than 1 million new books will be produced. China has doubled its production of books in the past ten years. Brazil has a booming book industry. Even old countries like the US find book production is increasing. We should not bemoan the death of the book.

Should we conclude that all is well in the world of books? Certainly not. Listen to the lamentations of authors, publishers, booksellers. They are clearly frightened and confused. The ground is shifting beneath their feet and they don’t know where to stake a claim. The pace of tech is terrifying. What took millennia, then centuries, then decades, now happens all the time. Homesteading in the new info ecology is made difficult by uncertainty about copyright and economics.

Throughout early modern Europe, publishing was dominated by guilds of booksellers and printers. Modern copyright did not exist, but booksellers accumulated privileges, which Condorcet objected to. These privileges (AKA patents) gave them the exclusive rights to reproduce texts, with the support of the state. The monarchy in the 17th century eliminated competitors, especially ones in the provinces, reinforcing the guild, thus gaining control of publishing. But illegal production throve. Avignon was a great center of privacy in the 18th century because it was not French. It was surrounded by police intercepting the illegal books. It took a revolution to break the hegemony of the Parisian guild. For two years after the Bastille, the French press enjoyed liberty. Condorcet and others had argued for the abolition of constraints on the free exchange of ideas. It was a utopian vision that didn’t last long.

Modern copyright began with the 1793 French copyright law that established a new model in Europe. The exclusive right to sell a text was limited to the author for lifetime + 10 years. Meanwhile, the British Statute of Anne in 1710 created copyright. Background: The stationers’ monopoly required booksellers — and all had to be members — to register. The oligarchs of the guild crushed their competitors through monopolies. They were so powerful that they provoked results even within the book trade. Parliament rejected the guild’s attempt to secure the licensing act in 1695. The British celebrate this as the beginning of the end of pre-publication censorship.

The booksellers lobbied for the modern concept of copyright. For new works: 14 years, renewable once. At its origin, copyright law tried to strike a balance between the public good and the private benefit of the copyright owner. According to a liberal view, Parliament got the balance right. But the publishers refused to comply, invoking a general principle inherent in common law: When an author creates work, he acquires an unlimited right to profit from his labor. If he sold it, the publisher owned it in perpetuity. This was Diderot’s position. The same argument occurred in France and England.

In England, the argument culminated in a 1774 Donaldson vs. Beckett that reaffirmed 14 years renewable once. Then we Americans followed in our Constitution and in the first copyright law in 1790 (“An act for the encouragement of learning”, echoing the British 1710 Act): 14 years renewable once.

The debate is still alive. The 1998 copyright extension act in the US was considerably shaped by Jack Valenti and the Hollywood lobby. It extended copyright to life + 70 (or for corporations: life + 95). We are thus putting most literature out of the public domain and into copyright that seems perpetual. Valenti was asked if he favored perpetual copyright and said “No. Copyright should last forever minus one day.”

This history is meant to emphasize the interplay of two elements that go right through the copyright debate: A principle directed toward the public gain vs. self-interest for private gain. It would be wrong-headed and naive to only assert the former. B ut to assert only the latter would be cynical. So, do we have the balance right today?

Consider knowledge and power. We all agree that patents help, but no one would want the knowledge of DNA to be exploited as private property. The privitization of knowledge has become an enclosure movement. Consider academic periodicals. Most knowledge first appears in digitized periodicals. The journal article is the principle outlet for the sciences, law, philosophy, etc. Journal publishers therefore control access to most of the knowledge being created, and they charge a fortune. The price of academic journals rose ten times faster than the rate of inflation in the 1990s. The J of Comparative Neurology is $29,113/year. The Brain costs $23,000. The average list price in chemistry is over $3,000. Most of the research was subsidized by tax payers. It belongs in the public domain. But commercial publishers have fenced off parts of that domain and exploited it. Their profit margins runs as high as 40%. Why aren’t they constrained by the laws of supply and domain? Because they have crowded competitors out, and the demand is not elastic: Research libraries cannot cancel their subscriptions without an uproar from the faculty. Of course, professors and students produced the research and provided it for free to the publishers. Academics are therefore complicit. They advance their prestige by publishing in journals, but they fail to understand the damage they’re doing to the Republic of Letters.

How to reverse this trend? Open access journals. Journals that are subsidized at the production end and are made free to consumers. They get more readers, too, which is not surprising since search engines index them and it’s easy for readers to get to them. Open Access is easy access, and the ease has economic consequences. Doctors, journalists, researchers, housewives, nearly everyone wants information fast and costless. Open Access is the answer. It is a little simple, but it’s the direction we have to take to address this problem at least in academic journals.

But the Forum is thinking about other things. I admire Google for its technical prowess, but also because it demonstrated that free access to info can be profitable. But it ran into problems when it began to digitize books and make them available. It got sued for alleged breach of copyright. It tried to settle by turning it into a gigantic business and sharing the profits with the authors and publishers who sued them. Libraries had provided the books. Now they’d have to buy them back at a price set by Google. Google was fencing off access to knowledge. A federal judge rejected it because, among other points, it threatened to create a monopoly. By controlling access to books, Google occupied a position similar to that of the guilds in London and Paris.

So why not create a library as great as anything imagined by Google, but that would make works available to users free of charge? Harvard held a workshop on Oct. 1 2010 to explore this. Like Condorcet, a utopian fantasy? But it turns out to be eminently reasonable. A steering committee, a secretariat, 6 workgroups were established. A year later we launched the Digital Public Library of America at a conference hosted by the major cultural institutions in DC, and in April in 2013 we’ll have a preliminary version of it.

Let me emphasize two points. 1. The DPLA will serve a wide an varied constituency throughout the US. It will be a force in education, and will provide a stimulus to the economy by putting knowledge to work. 2. It will spread to everyone on the globe. The DPLA’s technical infrastructure is being designed to be interoperable with Europeana, which is aggregating the digital collections of 27 companies. National digital libraries are sprouting up everywhere, even Mongolia. We need to bring them together. Books have never respected boundaries. Within a few decades, we’ll have worldwide access to all the books in the world, and images, recordings, films, etc.

Of course a lot remains to be done. But, the book is dead? Long live the book!

Q: It is patronizing to think that the USA and Europe will set the policy here. India and China will set this policy.

A: We need international collaboration. And we need an infrastructure that is interoperable.

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[avignon] Day 2, First session: Debate: “IP is a universal value”

The morning session begins with a debate between Olivier Bomsel (head of the ParisTech Chair of Media and Brand Economic) and James Boyle (law prof at Duke, and one of the founders of Creative Commons). It is moderated by Patricia Barbizet, managing director, Financièr Pinault. The question is whether “intellectual property” (a phrase that already skews the discussion, of course) is a universal value. (Disclosure: I come in thinking that “IP” is not a universal value, and is not even a fully coherent value. And I am and admirer and acquaintance of Jamie Boyle.)

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Patricia: We should try to find a common view among artists and regulators [and audiences/participants? and culture itself?] and across cultures. We want to try to avoid dogmatism. We want a constructive and pragmatic dialogue.

James begins. He sketches three agendas to try to frame the debate. First, the enforcement agenda starts from the idea that copyright becomes more needed as it becomes cheaper to copy. As copy costs approach zero, control should approach infinity, according to this view.

Second, the development agenda starts from the needs of human beings, especially those in the developing world. It stresses flexibility in copying, acknowledging that the US and Britain used to take looser view. E.g., Dickens called America a nation of pirates.

Third, the boring agenda: It demands empirical evidence. It says we have strong intuitions about what technologies will do, and those intuitions are almost always wrong. It seeks balance, democratic dialogue, is somewhat upset by IP policy to be set by treaties, the texts of which are often classified, which is hilarious, as if there would be rioting in the streets over anti-circumvention policies. [He's being ironic.] The boring agenda is humble. You will hear little about it today; it is poorly represented at international conferences. The European Database Directive was spposed to create more databases, but there have been fewer and the prices have gone up. I hope the boring agenda will find a litle space here today.

Patricia: Is Creative Commons the future? James: CC is based on copyright. It allows users to set their own terms. E.g., you can download James’ book for free because his publisher and he agreed that would drive attention to it. CC goes to scientists, artists, musicians, and asks if they would like to share their work. Many say yes, they’d like to help build a commons. But CC is a private attempt, which addresses our culture’s ignoring of the value of commons. You used to know that the works of your generation would come into the public domain within your lifetime. You could adapt them, translate them, etc.. Now, the works of everyone in this room will not be available for such usage in our lifetimes. Extending the lifetime of copyright beyond the lifetime of authors does not incentivize the dead authors to write more, although the US Congress doesn’t agree.

Olivier: Economics by modernizing ownership theories in the ’60s, plus the info revolution that began in the ’70s, has rolled all prior thinking and law into IP. It’s not necessarily what the Founding Fathers were talking about. We’re in a new phase, using new property theories. Then we can ask whether [theories about?] copyright and brands are independent. [I'm having trouble understanding the translation.] One of the features of the Net is that it’s the first tool that enables you combine various things…publication for anonymous audiences. The question of who speaks, who curates, the environment of the expression is very important. Let me finish this line of reasoning by saying that the 19th C idea of publishing is to make public and known. “Make known” obviously leads you to the issue of brands, because it means linking to this expression a certain number of identifiers and words that give meaning to the expression. [Sorry. but I'm pretty much transcribing. It doesn't make sense to me either, which is certainly a translation problem.] I think there’s a real issue. What do we mean by publish? It means posting on a Web page. It means releasing signs into an accessible space. But, signs if they go no further than that are nothing more than noise, unless your an archivist and taking a very deliverate approach to identifying a particular form of expression, most consumption of meaning is via names, proper nouns. The author can only be identified as such when he has been authorized by a publisher: “Yes this is an author, I put his name next to mine onf the Web page in which I put his content.” All this is much more complicated than this.

Patricia: So you need both publishing and distribution. Olivier: I wasn’t invited to conferencs such as this until I published a book, and got co-branded.

Q: In the past, creators were not necessarily linked to the financial side. The Net turns things on its head. The creator is the bourgeois owner?

Olivier: Ownership is never popular. It is asymmetric. Society gives someone an advantage, and society then asks whether it was right to do so, and whether the collective destiny should be sacrificed by granting individuals sovereign power. [New translator!] This might shock libertarians or primitive communists.

James: Pres. Sarkozy ways that the rights of authors stands in opposition to the Anglo tradition. But one should look at the arguments in France about the Author Rights after the French Revolution. Diderot v. Condorcet. Diderot thought the author’s rights were eternal and natural, and should be easily transferrable to publishers. Condorcet said some things similar to what Olivier said: It is a question of liberty, stopping people from uttering the words of others. He said we should have something like a brand, e.g., this is the James Boyle authorized version. What we have is not as perpetual as Diderot’s, although it’s getting there. It’s also not Condorcet’s that consists of a right of paternity and attribution. So, the tradition of Authors Rights has always had the same concern as the Anglo tradition: The rights of authors are good but how far should they extend. That is the question. The French do not perfectly respect traffic laws. We could have embedded governors that enforce compliance. It would save lives. But would the cost of enforcement be worth it. I think not. And that is the question we should be addressing. It is not am atter of “I love piracy,” but “How far the enforcement? What are the costs?”

Olivier: If you create too many incentives for technology to get around the law, it then becomes unenforceable. And I think that James is trying to open up as an avenue. If you create more responsibility for enforcement of law, you can make the enforcement much more effective and less costly.

Now Bruno Perrin summarizes an Ernst & Young report that the Forum commissioned on IP laws in G20 countries. How are these countries are using the technologies and approach the new risks. [Back to the bad translator.] He shows a map that shows a fairly consistent framework in these countries: Copyright lasts from 50 to 70 7ears. [Well, 70 years after the death of the author.] Countries with harsh enforcement don’t necessarily find less piracy. The most universal factor is the new proven risk to reputation, and of course this involves brands. Audiences and artists respect more and more trustworthy [something]. IP remains the key element when it comes to creating innovation, and it is the interest of all to protect it. (The report is available openly.)

A lawyer [no name in program or intro; sorry] There are differences among IP rights among countries, resulting from those that have civil law and those with common law with copyright. There’s moral right in copyright companies, but moral rights cannot be ceded between living persons in those countries. We’re talking here about the right of the author to be recognized as the creator of the work, and the one who can guarantee its integrity. That can be ceded in copyright countries, but the author would nto be able to control how the work will be used later. Then there’s common law which is a different approach. [Yes, it's my fault that I have to rely on a translator, but I wish I could rely on this translator :( ] [A longer string of words is emitted from the translator.]

Patricia: Piracy. Sarkozy said the good thing about France’s piracy laws is that it has informed a generation that works have prices.

Bruno: We tried to come up with a list of the arguments used by pirates so we could counter them and put an end to them. We were pleasantly surprised by them. Five out of 8 are connected with distribution problems: where, when, how, ease, interoperability. Then there’s the failure of the users to understand their obligations, but education can deal with that. The question of censorship by governments. Then there’s the question of price, which is justifiable [?] but there’s a response to that coming through when it comes to legal free offerings and streaming. [Another stream of compressed words from the translator.] To beat the pirates, you have to come up with a better service.

Patricia: Why are users, producers, and access providers entering into alliances?

Bruno: You have to talk about money. Here’s a chart that shows that in the past four years, the new players are telecom operators, and major media groups. The stock market cap and net cash have increased for these new players. Meanwhile, headcount has only gone up 1%. Excessive power is not a good thing. Consumers are becoming more demanding. [Another stream of seeming-words] We’re confident that things are happening.

Patricia: To sum up: IP is a universal value. It develops differently in different countries. This leads to alliances among stakeholders who had little interaction. Now they are forced to come together [word schmeer] protection diversity coming together.

Now there is a roundtable:

  • Fedle Confalonieri, Mediaset Italy

  • David Drummond, VP Google, USA

  • Victoria Espinel, IP enforcement coordinator, Office of Mgt and Budget, USA

  • Francis Gurry, Managing Dir., World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

  • Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission

  • Elisabeth Niggeman, Managing Director, National Library, Germany

Patricia: Francis, do you think the current agreements are adapted to the digital age?

Francis: The international agreements are the last recourse. They are a starting point, that dates back to the 19th C, but there are gaps to be filled particularly when it comes to the rights of the different stakeholders. There’s a conf next year about actors’ rights and audio-visual materials. Third, there are quite a lot of questions that have not yet reached the level to be dealt with international agreement. [The good translator!] There are orphan areas that haven’t been discussed yet.

Patricia: There are new conceptions arising…

Francis: Yes. Law is just one part of the solution. For instance, yesterday we talked about facilitating access to creative work — making legal access as easy as illegal access. For that you need a new infrastructure, one not based on territories. I’m talking about global licenses that now require having to go through national levels. At the end of the day, we have to strive for a global market because the tech is global.

Patricia: People used to follow the rules of their countries. Then there were multinationals. This led to new apoproaches on a mltinational level. You’re suggesting it’s important to have consensus or at least multi-cultural dialogue. Or always differencves that have to be preserved?

Francis: We have to have a functional convergence so the tech functions. At the same time there can be certain areas preserved for national policy. E.g., we’re currently negotiating improved access for the blind; this is an exception in the copyright law. Next week we should be able to reach an international agreement that lets there be an exception in France (for blind-accessible works) available in other French-speaking countries. That currently doesn’t exist.

Patricia: Elisabeth Niggemann, how do you feel about the current legislation. Does it enable you to make available all works available to the public?

Elisabeth: I would have said yes when I entered as a librarian. But things have changed dramatically because of the digital revolution. People expect to find everything on line. Click and access. We can’t play our role. E.g., our library is only 100 years old. Everything in our stacks has been given us by publishers and music industry. About 25M media. Because we only started collecting in 1912, almost everything is under copyright. What can I do? Almost nothing, because of copyright. I’m not complaining, merely citing. We have to open up what we have in our stacks. If not, we’ll keep them sage, but they’ll be hidden, forgotten, not used. The treasures of our heritage have to be used and re-used, and we have to build on it. And this is really at risk.

Patricia: Should we enlarge the provisions? Is it legislation? Collective license?

Elisabeth: It’s a mixture of all that. We need money to digitize everything so it’s available. On the other hand, publishers make beautiful things, and it’s good that they give their metadata. But the big gap is the 20th centure, a black hole. Nobody earns anything from it, and it’s under copyright. Legislation could enable us to deal with orphaned works in the printed world. Researching the legal availability of orphaned works is expensive and difficult. It’d be good to have licenses that give money to the creators. We need a mi of legislation that backs these licenses, but also licenses that are worked on by the stakeholders that comes to a compromise so that everyone can gain from these works that are out of circulation and out of commerce.

Patricia: Do countries agree about orphan works? Do we all agree that it’s a black hole?

Elisabeth: I’d like to believe it’s a common view. Of course, the stakeholders won’t always share the same views and approaches and how much it’ll cost to buy a license. Controversy in the details, but we all share more or less the same view. It’s still an issue how you can do a cross-border license. I can imagine licenses being granted nationally because we have collecting societies. But how do you do it internationally? Within EU, yes, but globally it’s a big problem.

David: As one of the architects of the Google Books Settlement, we hope there’s a common view. But it didn’t work in the US. Legislation is required. There are lots of obstacles but we should do it. We get that people didn’t think our approach was good, but the black hole remains.

Patricia: But Google is signing more agreements…

David: A misconception is that Google is all about free content. But we’ve always had partnerships with content creators. “Traffic acquisition costs” in our annual report = content creators who embed our stuff. The content creators, including large media companies, make money out of this. Billions of dollars generated with content creators. Now, it’s turned out that the advertising/free models hasn’t worked that well. E.g., the news industry. Media industry and Google are headed toward distribution models that include paying for content. We sell e-books. Our OnePass project lets you subscribe to news. And we just launched Google Music which sells music through deals with the music industry.

Patricia [lightly]: I think many of us are so startled by the size of the figures in Google’s accounts that we miss the details. Yesterday, Sarkozy talked about Google…

David: We’re an indexer. We crawl the Web. If people don’t want it searched, we don’t crawl it. We are attempting to provide as much info to users as we can. We believe in openness in software. Android is open. The Chrome browser also.

Patricia: People use Google to find creations…

David: It’s important that artists have all the options to make their works available for pay, for free, etc. There’s tremendous amounts of info for free. But if you want the best, it’s expensive, and creators need to be compensated for that. We want to bring the great offline works online, but you can only do that if you have a model that compensates creators.

Neelie: Someone told me that yesterday was frightening and then exciting. When I was a small girl, I thought “What would I do if I didn’t have fear?” We should do our job, but not be afraid. We are talking about a digital single market. We should use the privilege of the digital single market. It is global. But we are open to imagination, and that should be our lead role. I am in completely in favor of a decent remuneration for creators. I agree with Sarkozy that we if we don’t feed the artists, it is over.

Patricia: We all agree. [really?]

Neelie: Many many artists are living on a thousand euros a month, which is not enough. That’s true for 97.5% of one of the collecting societies. We need to go to back to the basics. Put the artists in the center, of copyright law and our entire policy on culture and growth. We need out of the box thinking. I was startled when Sarkozy called HADOPI an “awareness tool.” It’s about piracy. Also, I’m a strong believer in the Cloud. That gives a possibility of tackling the problem better.

Patricia: Do Americans and Europeans agree about the cloud?

Neelie: Maybe. Let me be a politician. I cannot explain to Europeans why iTunes isn’t selling films in Europe, or why Spotify is introduced this week in Belgium but not elsewhere. We have to educate our children.

Patricia: Are we dreaming that our children are learning not everything is free?

Neelie: The main thing is to that people have options. Politicians need to listen to arguments, such as in the E&Y paper, but politicians have to translate them into policy. If your start is that artists should get a decent remuneration, then you go from there to try to provide options. If people can’t buy or download what they want, they think politicians are not doing their jobs.

Francis: When the Net started there was a lot of resistance among rights owners. Now it’s different. I appreciate the E&Y arguments. We do need to create the infrastructure for a global digital market.

David: I agree. Technology can be an aid here. E.g., Youtube fingerprints copyrighted material when asked. Infringers an either take it down or let it stay up with ads and make money out of it. [Will someone please say something about Fair Use]

Elisabeth: The Bern Convention says copyright exists from creation. When I see Wikipedia and more, I think we can keep global agreements and still do something voluntarily.

Fedele: If you’re doing the same job, you need the same rules, and the revenues have to be the same. Our job is far more banal than monks copying works: television. If Google uses tech to keep an eye on content, there’s streaming. The European audio-visual industry has a turnover of about €92B euros. About half go into the products. I agree with Sarkozy. I’m old, been around. I can put myself into the shoes of the newcomers. I remember what happened in France with the Fifth TV channel. You couldn’t have many commercials, Sundays off. We were the forerunners, although we were pirates at the time, although we were paying copyright for US materials. It’s all culture, and it needs to be protected. I’m not saying we need Big Brother, but when you look at the financial side of programs such as this, you have to be careful of the investments. If you want to take our content, you have to pay. So, let’s do it in that way.

Patricia: [bad translator] What’s your reaction to piracy?

Fedele: We believe in technology because programs especially for young people will have their web sites, put in the ads, make money. Quite clearly we have to adjust our offerings to the different platforms. Our business model is based on copyright and exclusivity. Recently in the EU there was a question about a game of football in Turkey or Greece. We and Skye and other bidders pay something like 100M euros to have all the championship games. In Turkey you can broadcast the same game as us that we have exclusive rights for. If they can do that, the system collapses. What is ours should be seen as ours.

Patricia: Laws? Regulations?

Fedele: Neelie Kroes has the mandate. The EC says every users should be digital by 2013, and we support that. That’s wonderful. If you want to get people to forget about things being free, it’s education. HADOPI is a step in the right direction. It’s like a speed limit on the motorway. [Cf. Jamie Boyle's point] Everyone in business would like a monopoly, but we’re realistic. It’s up to politics and step in and regulate.

Patricia: What’s your next move, Victoria, since you’re in charge of policy for the US gov’t.

Victoria: My job is to oversee IP overall for the US, which is broader than copyright. E.g., trade secrets, patents. But I’ll focus on copyright. We need a combination of approaches. The Obama administration has been supporting having the public sector come together voluntarily to take actions to reduce infringement. We think this is flexible and sustainable. We’ve had 3 voluntary agreements reached this year, two about copyright, to try to quarantine sites that are bad actors. We are trying to gather data. We need an empirical basis to see if our approach is working. We need to know if it’s not working. We also feel this is just one part of the solution. We’ve increased law enforcement. We focus on sources of supply, not on consumers: businesses built with the intention of distributing infringement product. There is a public awareness gap and we’d like to educate consumers. We need to be doing more cooperatively with other countries. We need as a govt to be encouraging an environment that provides legal alternatives consumers find appealing. The Cloud is raising issues already raised by the Internet, putting it on steroids. Any debate that says the Cloud is good or a danger is overly simplistic. You can have Cloud services built to be legal or not. The Cloud’s capacity and flexibility makes it easier to build legal services that are what consumers want. To the extent people are building Cloud services with the intention of dedicating them to illegal activity [interesting two qualifiers] we will go after them. When I began, I though we would not need many changes. But after a review, we made 20 legislative suggestions to Congress, although most were not about copyright. One was to increase penalties (which is not entirely accurate, she says). We think the max penalties for copyright is appropriate where they are. We are concerned where IP infringement is tied to particularly egregious conduct, such as supporting terrorism or organized crime; judges should have the discretion to increase penalties. We’re seeing some truly gruesome examples of ties between organized crime and IP theft. We are particularly concerned about this. The second place we think our laws could be strengthened is with respect to streaming sites. Our focus is on distributors. When sites are built for distributing illegal content, we think that should be subject to criminal penalties. Our law is ambiguous about streaming, and we think it should be clarified.

Neelie: This debate is missing the fact that people should be allowed to use the Internet. We’ve focused on piracy. Education is important. But we also have to offer alternatives, for most people are not interested in illegal actions. I completely agree with the White House that much can be done voluntarily.

Victoria: We are keenly aware that enforcement of IP on the Net can have an impact on free speech, fair use, due process, and these are extremely important to our administration. They have to be respected and protected and made a priority.

Q: [bad translator] I run a small govt called Naive. Liability, responsibility, voluntary agreements, fear … these words keep coming up and are important. Internet operators have a cultural responsibility. I propose universal cultural contribution. Internet operators could pay a few pennies for the use of eac work. Track each usage.

A: [tax person from E&Y] Taxation has a major influence on how a cultural industry is run. Studies show taxes are a major lever used by countries. [String of translator gibber] Managing digital rights is a very complex system.

A: Neelie: I was intrigued by the interview with Frederic Mitterand in Le Monde. I agree with his proposals. But we should be strict; member states should be make their own reservation. It’s not just telecom providers. [This must be insider EC baseball.]

Q: [spotify] We need time. Music has small margins and we need huge volumes for things to work properly. We need time to get things up and running.

Q: I’m a publisher. Fedele talked about the economics side. We’ve talked about fear. We have 1500 authors, of which 50 have a significant level of remuneration. The rest are frightened about losing the little they have. We need a rebalancing of the economic conditions, or else fear will take over. I have an author who wants to publish but not in one particular country for political reason. Do we think of the author’s rights or the consumers’ rights?

Q: [from Viviendi] Condorcet was not against intellectual property. “Any privilege is awkward in the face of liberty…It is harmful to the rights of others …” [didn't get it]. Condorcet has people do not create books for money, but if he doesn’t get money, he has to find another way of making a living.

James: We’re forgetting that Internet has been wonderful for authors. More people are authors on the Net than ever before. Question: Would some of the proposals not make the Internet more like Minitel than the Internet. Minitel: Totally controlled. No creativity.

Q: [robert levine] I am the author of the book Free Ride. It’s avalable on a pirate site in Brazil that also sells farm equipment. David, Google has matching algorithms, but did you only offer it to media companies that were willing to do a media partnership. If the solution is tech, why can’t sites like this and ThePiratesBay be taken out of search results for Google.

A: [david] Links to pages with infringing content are taken down.

Q: I’m from the Italian copyright authority. We are going to try to adopt a law to fight piracy. I’ve been disappointed today. The question is, as we see it, is: We don’t have the time to get involved with philosophical debate. The telecom operators are avoiding their responsibility. The EC isn’t saying anything.

Victoria: As an American, we love the Internet. When I started this job, I spent a lot of time outside of DC talking to companies that had a range of views on these issues. I was struck by the level of fear, anger, distrust. They were very emotional. That’s true on both sides of the debate. That’s an extremely unhelpful dynamic. We’d like to see better cooperation come out of these voluntary agreements. At the end of the discussion if there’s true participation, the level of trust and fear go down. We can’t let fear freeze us. We need to tackle the issues.

Fedele: We’re not afraid either. If you’re an entrepreneur you see everything as an opportunity. We were pirates. One starts up as an arsonist and ends up as a fireman.

Q: The pirates make sure that my films don’t get pirated for two weeks. That’s the type of loyalty. Google tells me how to find the pirated films. The telcos charge for the download. Lots of money is being made, but the artist isn’t making money.

Francis: The end of the day, the point of the tech is to enable us to communicate. The artist is king.

Q: [me...except I didn't get called on: Author's rights, sure. But what are you doing to institute and expand Fair Use to protect the rights of readers/re-users?]i

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