Sunday, July 05, 2009

Copy Paste Will Never Die

After the Almedalen Political Week I feel exhausted by all piracy/copyright debates. But the political landscape has cleared up – and polarized. Most of the traditional political parties are going Pirate Party Bashing instead of taking a serious discussion on the big issue: integrity and how to relate to the inevitable “digital culture” society.

For the integrity part my opinion is crystal clear: a free flow of information is a condition for free democracy, free research and innovation. Let me repeat that: a free flow of information. Even the OECD has agreed on that at the 2008 conference “The Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy”: The further expansion of the Internet Economy will bolster the free flow of information, freedom of expression, and protection of individual liberties, as critical components of a democratic society and cultural diversity.

The inability among policy makers like President Nicholas Sarkozy or the Swedish Moderate Party to understand that is alarming. Eric Besson, Minister of State for the Development of the Digital Economy in France, was one of the key speakers at OECD conference. Hello!!?!

We live in a world in which the copy predominates, evading all attempts to outlaw it. There are today 130 million total works estimated under the Creative Commons license. Most of those creative works are remixes and mashups, or are simply built on earlier works like it always have been, and they also need some protection. That number will increase, not decrease. But the copyright laws prevent the creation of remixes and mashups. Hello!!?!

The traditionalists just cannot see, or don’t want to realize, that the copyright is changing. Whether they like it or not, in ten years time we will be far ahead into the structural transformation of the creative industry and cultural policy. If the creative community mindset changes, the laws have to change concurrently. What and how you protect will change, whether they like it or not.

The lawyers, of which the most outspoken on this subject also are lobbyists for the Big Media, obviously have to say they believe in today’s copyright laws – it’s in their financial interest to protect them. The real target for change is the policy makers. It’s true that changes in legislation takes a long time, like ten years, but nevertheless the copyright laws will change. The Pirate Bay, the entire code and all the torrents – Information which accounts for half the traffic on the internet – fits on a single USB stick. Imagine what will happen when cloud computing really take off. The Pirate Bay verdict could for example impact nearly every online service that suddenly becomes liable for making a buffer copy on its own servers based on something you do on your computer. Lots of cloud computing services could suddenly face massive copyright liabilities. Trying to stop a groundswell like this is just pointless.

I strongly believe that in ten years time the discussion on a specific “digital culture” will be obsolete. “The digital” will be integrated in the whole cultural sphere and not treated as a separate issue. File sharing will be a natural part of that. And the survivors will be the companies that change their business models accordingly.

Otherwise we’d have a scenario where content companies are killing off innovation because they’re unable to adapt themselves – and that’s a really sad outcome.


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