Posts Tagged ‘Bill Rosenblatt’

Copyright and technology: glass half full or half empty?

October 11, 2014 Leave a comment
following on from my last post about IP and Digital Economy, I’d like to focus this one on the evolving role of copyright in the digital economy. What are the key recent developments, trends and challenges to be addressed, and where are the answers forthcoming? Read on to find out.
Where better to start than at the recent Copyright and Technology 2014 London conference in which both audience and speakers consisted of key players in the intersection of copyright, technology and digital economy. As you can probably imagine such a combination provided for great insights and debate on the role, trends and future of copyright and digital technology. Some key takeaways include:
  • The copyright yin and technology yang – Copyright has always had to change and adapt to new and disruptive technologies (which typically impact the extant business models of the content industry) and each time it usually comes out even stronger and more flexible – the age of digital disruption is no exception. As my 5 year old would say, “that glass is half full AND half empty”
  • UK Copyright Hub – “Simplify and facilitate” is a recurring mantra on the role of copyright in the digital economy. The UK Copyright Hub provides an exchange that is predicated on usage rights. It is a closely watched example of what is required for digital copyright and could easily become a template for the rest of the world.
  • Copyright frictions still a challenge – “Lawyers love arguing with each other”, but they and the excruciatingly slow process of policy making, have introduced a particular friction to copyright’s digital evolution. The pace of digital change has increased but policy has slowed down, perhaps because there are now more people to the party.
  • Time for some new stuff – Copyright takes the blame for many things (e.g. even the normal complexity of cross border commerce). Various initiatives including: SOPA & PIPA / Digital Economy Act / Hadopi / 3 strikes NZ have stalled or been drastically cut back. It really is time for new stuff.

Source: Fox Entertainment Group

  • Delaying the “time to street” – Fox describe their anti-piracy efforts in relation to film release windows, in an effort to delay the “time to street” (aka pervasive piracy). These and other developments such as fast changing piracy business models, or the balance between privacy vs. piracy and technologies (e.g. popcorn time, annonymising proxies, cyberlockers etc.) have added more fuel to the fire.
  • Rights Languages & Machine-to-Machine communication – Somewhat reminiscent of efforts to use big data and analytics mechanisms to provide insight from structured and unstructured data sources. Think Hadoop based rights translation and execution engines.
  • The future of private copying – The UK’s copyright exceptions now allow for individual private copies of owned content. Although this may seem obvious, but it has provoked fresh comments from content industries types and other observers e.g.: When will technology replace the need for people making private copies? Also, what about issues around keeping private copies in the cloud or in cyber lockers?

Mutant copyright techie-lawyer

In conclusion, and in light of the above gaps between copyright law and technology, I’ve decided that I probably need to study and become a mutant copyright techie-lawyer in order to help things along – you heard it here first. Overall, this was another excellent event, with lots of food for thought, some insights and even more questions, (when won’t there ever be?), but what I liked most was the knowledgeable mix of speakers and audience at this years event, and I look forward to the next one.

In Search of Mash-Up Licensing

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Every so often I am fortunate enough to be invited to participate (as speaker or facilitator) in a conference or summit that is focused on rights and licensing within industries outside of the usual suspects of music and media. However, it is generally pretty much the same in terms of the key challenges with getting stakeholders to agree the best ways to tackle this most pressing issue. So what was so different about the recent OGC Summit at MIT in Boston?

For one thing it was pleasant surprise to discover a sincere effort, by the good people of the Open Geo Spatial Consortium (OGC), to open up the debate to outsiders like myself and such experts as DRM Guru, Bill Rosenblatt; XACML Evangelist, Hal Lockhart; and other key speakers from related communities like the Science Commons and W3C. This was done deliberately to inject external but relevant perspectives into their deliberations (I think it has to do with the “Open” in their title). In any case I found it an interesting day’s event, full of enthusiastic participation by delegates and speakers, with some key take-outs, from my point-of-view, that include:

  • GeoData Exploitation – GeoRM poses unique challenges to the established world of Intellectual Property, eCommerce, Usage and Control, mainly because Geographical Data is a specific type of factual data, which is not in itself liable to copyright protection. However, the packaging, presentation and application of the data (which extends to the exciting world of Location Based Services) is definitely worth protecting and exploiting, hence the efforts by the OGC to nail this area before it becomes fragmented and uncontrollable is too late
  • Mash-Up Licensing – The direction of progress, in all likelihood, points towards a definitive move away from static to dynamic content usage, and from paper-based to electronic rights management (as highlighted by Graham Vowles – chair of the GeoRM WG in his opening address). This indicates a forward look towards the potential to licence dynamic electronic applications and usage scenarios which are as yet undreamt hence the term “Mash-up licensing”.
  • Shades of control – after much debate over the impracticality of predicting future user intent or consumer behaviours, it quickly became clear that the issue of managing access to Geodata would require a gradient or shades of access and control that varies from consumers (i.e. lower controls) to more rigid forms for commercial enterprise / professional / government users. This neatly helps to focus efforts where the value lies (i.e. commercial usage), and to maximise the viral / social benefits derived from ordinary users (i.e. free advertising / capturing hearts & minds)

The second part of the day was devoted to finding the best ways forward / next steps towards establishing and developing a standardised model for encoding Geo rights models in a way that it will enable interoperability between the diverse licensing models used / required by different communities. The consensus was:

  1. to open up the debate via a forum that promotes greater dialogue between communities, and which will not just focus on technology but also the business requirements;
  2. To create a test bed for trying out these candidate models in a safe and trusted environment; and to create use cases for each domain in order to identify commonalities that would be used to make up the standard.
  3. Finally, to acknowledge that although a difficult undertaking, it is well worth it, even if it is “just for the common good” –a sentiment / motivation that the scientific community would certainly subscribe to!

So in all, it was a very useful exercise and one which when kicked off will possibly lead the way for other industries to emulate in resolving rights management issues from the front. If the only thing that results from this summit is the adoption of a bill of rights on geospatial data, (e.g. see O’Reilly’s post on Health Data Rights here) then it would be a job well done.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.