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Make Way for Copyright Chaos - New York Times


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Make Way for Copyright Chaos - New York Times
Topic: Intellectual Property 2:33 am EDT, Mar 19, 2007

The Viacom v Youtube lawsuit could be one of the key legal battles that will define the future of the Interet. Lessig wrote an editorial today in NYT critical of moves made at the Supreme Court that set the stage for this showdown, making the now popular accusation that they have legislated from the bench.

The Grokster case thus sent a clear message to lawyers everywhere: You get two bites at the copyright policy-making apple, one in Congress and one in the courts. But in Congress, you need hundreds of votes. In the courts, you need just five. Viacom has now accepted this invitation from the Supreme Court....

Congress, of course, is perfectly capable of changing or removing the safe harbor provision to meet Viacom’s liking. But Viacom recognizes there’s no political support for the change it wants. It thus turns to a policy maker that doesn’t need political support — the Supreme Court.

Some interesting discussion in the thread here. Of course, these basic legal questions may never see the light of day, as it is entirely possible that this case is merely a negotiating stick that Viacom is using to get more out of Google in some sort of backroom deal over content distribution.

This article over at Advertising Age provides some additional perspective.

"If the L.A. Times doesn't generate news from places like Iraq, how will Yahoo, which doesn't operate its own bureaus, maintain a reliable stream of professional-quality reporting? In a very real way, the internet risks killing off the goose that keeps laying its golden eggs..."

There is something ironic about writing a blog entry that quotes something quoted in a news article about the damage the blogosphere is doing to the business models of traditional reporting.

"Recommendation is the new marketing."

"Will Viacom acquire a social framework for video assets or is YouTube going to acquire a library of content? That's the question."

No one source of video content will ever be THE social framework for video assets. Social frameworks exist independently of particular sets of video assets. Attempting to establish that sort of control is self defeating.

However, if the social frameworks were king, you'd think MemeStreams would be the focus of attention and not YouTube. Ultimately, content is not king, and filters are not king. Bandwidth, and the money that funds it, is king. There will be as many social frameworks as there are societies. There will be many content producers, a small number of which will make money. But the market will only sustain a few free video hosting systems. Its not about production cost or end user value. Its about marginal cost. You can copy a floppy but you can't copy a server.

A lot of people learned the wrong lessons from the cold war. They beleive very strongly that the problem with socialism is that fairness destroys incentives. This is merely political rhetoric. The economies in western Europe are fair, and libertarians are fond of pointing out that freer economies are more efficient. But, western Europe is not on the verge of collapse. Focusing on this issue is to ignore the mountain for the molehill.

The problem with socialism is that it isn't a natural state. It has to be engineered into existance through authoritarianism. Intellectual Property has exactly the same problem, and the efficiencies afforded by its "free" market nature are minor when held next to the major structural weaknesses that exist in forced economic fantasies.

Our society is completely unprepared to face this reality because we're too steeped in the political rhetoric of yesterday's arguement.

Make Way for Copyright Chaos - New York Times

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