Why User Generated Content Should Change How We View Intellectual Property

from the bottom-up,-not-top-down dept

For years, we’ve been saying that the real power of connected systems (the internet, mobile phones, etc.) are in their ability to let people connect to each other — not to be yet another delivery channel for broadcast content. The broadcast content industry, of course, can’t fathom how that’s possible, and that’s part of the reason why they’ve had so many problems with intellectual property law and finding business models that make sense. It looks like researchers are finally starting to tackle this idea. A professor from Wharton and another from the New Jersey School of Law have written a long, but quite interesting paper looking at how copyright law is out of date, because it assumes a centralized, broadcast model. All of the protections are designed to work in that model — but connectivity and the ability to do many-to-many communications has really meant that content has moved to “amateur to amateur” communications. That is, it’s decentralized — and our copyright laws are not set up to handle that situation at all. There are, of course, many, many, many examples of this in action — but we’re stuck in our thinking about it by assuming that the only content that really matters is the content that comes as a final package in the “broadcast” model. Rethinking copyright law from the perspective of promoting amateur to amateur content is going to be a big first step in creating the next generation of applications and services that will be successful on these communications systems.

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Comments on “Why User Generated Content Should Change How We View Intellectual Property”

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August Jackson (user link) says:



Have you been following Podcasting at all? This is one really excellent example of “amateur” content that has taken off in the last few months. One of the issues Podcasters (those who create the content) have been dealing with is how to legitimately incorporate created, sometimes copyrighted, content (such as music) into their programs. The whole market could be conceived of being where fair use runs up against claims of “distribution” of copyrighted content.

While it’s not user-to-user quite yet, one could certainly forsee the day when this is another means by which families and friends keep in touch. Hopefully by then the question of fair use will be resolved. By resolved I mean resolved the way to encourage the medium as opposed to kill it.

Sean Fioritto (user link) says:

Re: Podcasting

Here’s a thought: I’m going to read this article on my podcast tonight. That is if you don’t mind Mike? I was already planning on having a discussion about the free flow of information. I think that for anything to be successful on the internet, it has to encourage the flow of information, not hinder. I think the only reason something like iTunes works is the simplicity in the system. If I want a cd, one or two clicks and it’s on my computer (and my bank account is depleted accordingly).
I will also be playing a few songs from local groups…with their permission of course. Here is the rss feed for Hello World:

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