by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 8th 2011 7:13pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 4th 2011 10:45am
from the say-what-now? dept
The review panel recently closed their request for comments, and some folks are publishing their own comments. A really fantastic one is from Glyn Moody, who highlighted actual data and research, and pointed out where the industry's claims were flawed. It's a very powerful analysis, and I hope that the people on the review committee will take it seriously.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, is a trade group representing publishers in the UK, The Publishers Association Limited. While (as of this writing) I cannot find anything on the organization's own website concerning their filing, they did send out an email to various folks, and Shane Richmond kindly forwarded it on to me. It's stunning in its backwards thinking -- and for its complete lack of factual evidence to back up its claims. The Publisher's Association merely listed out a bunch of bullet points, and we'll take a look at a few:
radical changes to IP laws would fly in the face of expert opinion -- senior executives across the whole sector emphasise the importance of the current IP framework in driving innovation and delivering growth.Except almost none of that is accurate. Tons of experts have gone into great detail on the problems of copyright law today. But, of course, the Publishers ignore all of this. They only asked senior execs who receive the bounty of having a strong government monopoly if that monopoly was important. It's like asking a kid if candy is good for them, and then using that answer as the evidence that candy is good for children.
introducing elements of an American style fair use exception would create legal ambiguity and put a chokehold on innovation. There is no evidence that it would have a positive effect on overall levels of innovation and growth.And this is the guffaw-inducing claim. The US has a long history of case law around fair use, and while there are ambiguities, the idea that it would put a chokehold on innovation to allow people to do more with copyrighted works is simply laughable. The Publishers support this with absolutely no evidence. And, of course, the biggest evidence comes from us right here in the US, where we did implement just such a fair use regime, and it did not lead to any chokehold on innovation.
in ten years of surveying British companies on barriers to innovation, the UK Government has not found evidence that companies believe the IP regime to be a barrier to their growth.I don't quite know the details of this particular study, but the issue that David Cameron raised when he initiated this review of copyright law remain pretty key: all of the big US tech and media companies rely heavily on fair use. If UK companies don't think they need fair use, they may not realize just what they're missing.
barriers to growth and innovation are not the fault of copyright law, but are caused by copyright infringement, the wider business environment and inefficiencies in the licensing system. All of the (non-industry) evidence suggests otherwise. That's what Glynn's submission highlighted in many points. So why would the Publishers make a claim that is so easily refuted by the evidence?
proposals to tackle these problems are in train and Government has a critical role to play in speeding up implementation of the Digital Economy Act and in supporting industry efforts to reduce the incidence of copyright infringing weblinks being prominently displayed in search engine results.Yes, this is the Publishers' big solution for innovation: making linking illegal and kicking people off the internet. So very forward thinking of them. Of course, it's no surprise that a big trade group representing a bunch of legacy players who hate change would argue against change based on nothing more than fear and an unwillingness to adapt. However, one hopes that the review committee will put such comments into their proper context.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 4th 2010 9:57am
from the who's-going-to-sue-first? dept
"It's like giving away ice cream samples--someone has to pay the cost," said Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America. "I think it would be a good thing for consumers to go to 90 seconds. But they're tripling the amount of time, and they want it for free. I think there ought to be compensation. I believe anytime you use music, you ought to reward the people making the music."Does Rick really believe that? If so, the Songwriters should fire him as their leader. What he should be looking for is what will maximize the revenue overall, not what will maximize the revenue per use. If you get paid per use, and it means shorter previews -- but that means many fewer sales and less overall money for the artists, then Carnes with his "anytime you use, you pay" philosophy is doing serious harm to the songwriters. And, of course, the actual evidence goes against Carnes. Studies have shown that such longer previews increases purchasing, but the publishing folks and the songwriters like Carnes are more interested in licensing than in direct sales anyway (even if that's really short-sighted). It's too bad that the Songwriters Guild would be represented by someone without their best interests in mind.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 2nd 2010 10:24am
from the it-helps-you-sell-more dept
The latest comes from rumors that Apple was going to double song sample lengths in iTunes from 30-seconds to 60-seconds. There's apparently plenty of good reasons for this, as research has shown that 60-second samples lead to more purchases.
And yet, despite the rumors, you'll notice that Steve Jobs did not announce the expected doubling of samples. Why? Apparently Apple had the approval of all four of the major record labels... but he forgot to go groveling and beg for permission from the other side of the coin: the music publishers. Apparently, various music publishers read the rumors of the doubling and were quite upset that Apple hadn't asked for their permission, and even started lawyering up to sue, in case Apple announced such a plan without first getting permission from various music publishers.
And people say we're exaggerating when we show just how ridiculous music licensing is. This isn't about copyright or revenue or anything. This is just childish foot-stomping by a group that demands that everyone ask permission before helping them make more money. Stunning.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 24th 2010 8:20am
from the nice-to-see-some-data dept
But, now we've got a bit more evidence. Michael Scott points us to a new research paper from law professor Hannibal Travis, that tries to look at the actual economic impact of Google's book scanning on publishers, and finds that the falling sky claims from publishers and critics simply isn't supported by the evidence:
First, it finds little support for the much-discussed hypothesis of the Association of American Publishers and Google's competitors that the mass digitization of major U.S. libraries will reduce the revenues and profits of the most-affected publishers. In fact, the revenues of the publishers who believe themselves to be most aggrieved by GBS, as measured by their willingness to file suit against Google for copyright infringement, increased at a faster rate after the project began, as compared to before its commencement. Their profits also increased significantly more on average from 2005 to 2008 than from 2001 to 2004. The increased rate of growth by publishers most affected by GBS does not disappear when one compares it to the growth of the U.S. economy or to the growth of retail sales. The continued rise in sales is remarkable when one considers the soaring sales and prices of other entertainment products that may compete with books.Obviously, this seems to go beyond just Google's book search, in showing that greater access can certainly lead to greater revenue and profits for those who embrace it. Definitely another worthwhile paper to read on the subject.
Second, this Article finds some support for the view that mass digitization and expanded access to book previews may increase the revenues and profits of the most-affected publishers. The evidence for this proposition takes the form of large increases in revenues and profits for publishers affected by GBS who did not opt out of Google's publishing partner agreement for broader access to previews of works still in copyright.
Third, it seems that GBS may simultaneously vindicate the public interest in expanded access to the world's cultural heritage and the pecuniary interests of authors and publishers in recouping the substantial fixed costs of book and periodical production and distribution. Analyzing this virtuous circle can help us begin to theorize the relationship between the Internet industry, the producers of cultural products, and the wider public. This relationship is also visible with other advanced Internet services such as YouTube or DailyMotion, which may increase viewership of copyrighted works that they may infringe, such as television shows.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 21st 2010 10:07am
from the this-ought-to-be-fun dept
It looks as if publishers might really be lobbying for obtaining a new exclusive right conferring the power to monopolise speech e.g. by assigning a right to re-use a particular wording in the headline of a news article anywhere else without the permission of the rights holder. According to the drafts circulating in the internet, permission shall be obtainably exclusively by closing an agreement with a new collecting society which will be founded after the drafts have matured into law. Depending on the particulars, new levies might come up for each and every user of a PC, at least if the computer is used in a company for commercial purposes.Even more incredible? Some are arguing that these proposals don't go nearly far enough:
Well, obtaining monopoly protection for sentences and even parts of sentences in a natural language appears to be some kind of very strong meat. This would mean that publishers can control the wording of news messages. This comes crucially close to private control on the dissemination of facts.
Mr Castendyk concludes that even if the envisaged auxiliary copyright protection for newspaper language enters into law, the resulting additional revenue streams probably would be insufficient to rescue the publishing companies. He then goes a step further and postulates that publishing companies enjoy a quasi-constitutional guantee due to their role in the society insofar the state has the obligation to maintain the conditions for their existence forever. As I'm not a constitutional lawyer I won't comment this here but, with all due respect, I would not be very much surprised if such sentence turns out to be lobbyist speech. Utilising the leveraging effect of this postulated quasi-constitutional guarantee, Castendyk demands to amend cartel law in order to enable a global 'pooling' of all exclusive rights of all newspaper publishers in Germany in order to block any attempt to defect from the paywall cartell by single competitor as discussed above.Yes, the recommendation is to not just grant every newspaper publisher copyright on small snippets of words and headlines, but to then also force them all into a cartel that will put up paywalls, with no ability to get around the paywall. Talk about killing the news...
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 12th 2010 12:59pm
from the seriously? dept
"Once you know you can have it, once you know it exists in English and you can buy it, it would be crazy not to."But, the US publisher is quoted towards the end threatening those doing so, claiming it's illegal:
"What I would say to readers is, I would encourage them to shop at their local bookseller here in the United States or their online bookseller in the United States, where no laws are being broken and you are supporting the continuing discovery of world literature."As the anonymous reader who submitted this story notes, rather than just reading this statement, you really should hear the audio version of what Paul Bogaards from publisher Knoph says, because it's not fully conveyed in the written article. First, what he says in the audio version:
"Because it's against the law. It's a violation of copyright law."But you have to hear the sheer condescension in the tone. He says it as if he's speaking to pre-schoolers, not huge fans of these books.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Apr 6th 2010 9:32am
from the good-for-them dept
It was based on someone from Google visiting the company and explaining Google Books. While it's a little depressing that publishers have to wait for a person from Google to show up in person to explain what's been discussed at length for years by Google and many, many others, it's great to see that it worked in this case. Hyatt admits that he went into the meeting quite skeptical, but came out convinced. He notes that the two reasons given by publishers and authors against Google Books (people can just read the books online instead of buy them, or they can print them out) are simply not true. From the meeting he realized four key points (all of which Google made clear when all this launched, but many have simply ignored the facts):
- Google Book Search creates greater book awareness.
- The biggest problem authors face today is obscurity not piracy.
- Most people have no desire to read a book on their computer.
- Google only allows users to preview 20 percent of a book’s content.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 29th 2010 3:38pm
from the different-worlds dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 19th 2010 1:44pm
from the welcome-to-online dept
Hans-Joachim Fuhrmann, a spokesman for the German Newspaper Publishers Association, said the Web sites of all German newspapers and magazines together made 100 million euros, or $143 million, in ad revenue, while Google generated 1.2 billion euros from search advertising in Germany.Okay. Let's pick apart this apples and oranges comparison. First off, Google earns 1.2 billion euros from search advertising which has almost nothing to do with news. It comes from people searching for cameras or cribs or cars. Google News had no advertising at all for most of its existence and only introduced ads in the US less than a year ago. In other words, no, Google is not making more than newspapers and magazines when it comes to its News site in Germany.
"Google says it brings us traffic, but the problem is that Google earns billions, and we earn nothing," Mr. Fuhrmann said.
And, even if Google was making more money (which, again, there's no evidence that this is true), that still doesn't excuse Fuhrmann's claims -- which basically amount to him admitting that Google figured out how to make money and the companies he represents did not. Yet the publishers he represents had all of the advantages in the world. They were local. Google was not. They had been around for many more years than Google. They had brand recognition and loyalty that Google did not. Furhmann is basically admitting what a colossal failure the companies he represents have been. They failed to capitalize on a huge opportunity. And now, when Google sends them traffic, they are still failing to use that traffic wisely. And then they blame Google for it? Wow.
The publishers also complained about what they saw as a lack of transparency in the way Google presents search results and news snippets in its Google News service, saying the company was manipulating the results to help maintain its strong position....So go ahead and prove it. First of all, Google is a private company and can rank sites however it wants. It's an opinion of what Google feels is most relevant. If Google was not doing a good job, then people would go away. So basically, at this point, Fuhrmann hasn't just admitted that the publishers he represents have failed miserably to set up even the most basic business models for adapting to the internet, he's now suggesting that Google is purposely handicapping its own site by not presenting the absolute best results!
"We often feel like Web sites are elevated in Google's search results if they have a strong business relationship with Google, and we think we can prove it," Mr. Fuhrmann said.
It's difficult to see how this makes any sense at all. The publishers are claiming that Google is purposely degrading its results (and they can prove it!) and at the same time complaining that they can't compete against those degraded results. Wow.
On top of all that, the article reminds us, as we discussed last year, that these publishers have convinced German Chancellor Angela Merkel to support a new copyright law that would force aggregators to pay up just to link to stories. It's as if Germany doesn't want the internet at all.