Industries Dependent On Copyright Exceptions Contribute $182 Billion To Australian Economy

from the not-too-shabby dept

Despite the absence of credible studies supporting the idea, part of the copyright maximalist dogma is that the wider the reach of copyright, and the stricter the application, the better. As a corollary, copyright exceptions are anathema, which is why the US and EU are still shamefully resisting an international treaty that would enable more books covered by copyright to be produced in versions suitable for the visually impaired, since it would create a minor exception to help make that happen.

Part of the difficulty in contesting this view is that there is also very little research showing that exceptions are important, especially for driving economic growth. That makes a new report called "Excepting the Future" (pdf), commissioned by the Australian Digital Alliance, and pointed out to us by @MsLods, a particularly important contribution to the debate.

It starts by explaining why traditional copyright, devised in an analogue world, is no longer working:

digital content cannot be handled without copying it. Thus in the digital world, the distinction between handling and copying a work has completely broken down. All handling of digital content, however helpful to society or rights holders, may prima facie be a breach of copyright, attracting liability to rights holders if they have not permitted it.
It goes on to draw a suggestive parallel:
This situation is dysfunctional. It is not unlike the state of air-space law at the point at which the development of aviation had rendered it obsolete. In the early twentieth century, following Roman Law, land owners held exclusive rights "up to Heaven and down to Hell" giving them impracticable veto powers over air routes.
It was only when legal certainty was established by crafting an exception that allowed aircraft to pass over private property that the aviation industry really developed; the report calls for similar liberating exceptions to be created in Australian copyright law, so as to bring it more in line with the US's looser and highly-successful fair-use framework.

Australia's current copyright system is ill-equipped to cope with key Internet activities like search and indexing, caching and hosting, since they all involve incidental copying. Theoretically, companies providing those services ought to seek licensing agreements with copyright holders to avoid infringement. The report calculates how much time and money would be required to do that in the case of search engines:

If the 170 search engines listed at www.philb.com/webse.htm transacted with all 3.8 million Australian domain name registrants [to obtain permission to allow their sites to be indexed], it would involve 645 million transactions. If each transaction took 9.5 hours [to allow for multiple communications and checks by the site regarding rights], then, at average weekly wages, the transaction costs would exceed $150 billion a year. And that is just for the Australian domain names.
As well as the huge costs that current Australian law would entail if applied to the letter, the report quantifies the contribution that industries making use of copyright exceptions contribute to the economy: 14% of Australia’s annual Gross Domestic Product, or $182 billion; they also employ 21% of its paid workforce, almost 2.4 million people. The report further estimates the contribution more flexible copyright exceptions, coupled with better safe harbors, would contribute to the economy: around $600 million annually.

Of course, these figures can, and probably will, be contested by those ideologically against copyright exceptions. But it's a start, and a welcome one in the context of the prevalent assumption that more copyright equates to more economic benefit.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    tom green, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 3:46am

    copyright

    Somewhat disingenuous - I doubt there's a single case anywhere of any copyright holder insisting on licenses to avoid infringement via web caching or indexing, so that $150 billion is neither here nor there. Most copyrightholders are perfectly happy with normal exceptions and many grant free licenses for certain uses.

    What you guys never, ever, talk about is the way enormous tech companies like Google and the ISPs make a huge amount of money out of the wholesale infringement of copyright, via placing ads on pirate sites and charging extra for fast broadband, and also wage expensive PR campaigns to prevent copyrightholders getting any kind of recompense from the activity. Copyright supports and provides income from creators everywhere, and everywhere it's being slowly eroded, leaving many creators with no income whatsoever to go on creating their art. In the meantime Big Tech continues to make large profits out of 'free' music, books, and films, while investing nothing in their creation.

    It's not a fight about 'freedom' or 'free speech', or anything else similar. It's a fight about who gets the 'right' to rip off creators. It used to be music labels and publishers, now it's Big Tech. You'd have a bit more credibility round here if you actually addressed what's really going on, rather than continuing to pursue an adolescent agenda which basically says "we should be free to steal whatever we want".

    Try growing up.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 3:55am

    But how can we compete with the big content providers' ridiculously inflated piracy statistics if we don't make up ridiculously inflated statistics of our own??

    Besides, that $182 billion number is way low. All information in books is copied into people's heads when they read and there is an exception to copyright for that...so the real income is more like eleventy billion dollars.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:03am

    i suppose the entertainment industries are going to argue that because they contribute $x billion to the Australian economy, they deserve special laws enacted to enable them to catch up the other $182-x billion. on top of which, if those that are Dependent On Copyright Exceptions were to use copyright instead, the contribution to the economy would be even greater, maybe topping out at $182+x billion! duh!

     

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  4.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:07am

    Re: copyright

    Copyright supports and provides income from creators everywhere
    Gee, I sure am glad of that too! With automatic copyright protection for every scribble I place on a napkin, I've been able to slack off in the classroom, secure in the knowledge that even when I sneeze I'm raking in valuable IP.

    /sarc

    Are you freaking kidding me!!! If copyrights make all this money, where the hell is all of this fictional money going? You seem to be more specifically stating that copyrights deemed more important by stubborn legacy players are the ones making money. This is a useless straw man and completely ignores that it is the business model used that persuades the public to make a purchase, not the imminent threat of a law suit.

     

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  5.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:09am

    Re: copyright

    Yeah, how dare the filthy pirate ISPs charge for faster broadband!

    Dude...that's what an ISP is supposed to do!

    Oh and I love the accusation of "to prevent copyright holders getting any kind of recompense". The RIAA and MPAA are infamous for doing just that, with Hollywood Accounting and not paying royalties.

    And shut up about stealing. We've already countered that term about 5 billion times on here.

     

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  6.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    I tried. I even showed my work, but that might have been a mistake. I think the mystery of how these numbers get put together adds to their supposed credence.

     

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  7.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:14am

    Copyright law was enacted as a way to make sure that artists could monetise their work. This monetisation came about in the business model of only the author being legally allowed to distribute copies of their work, or those whom they authorize to.
    Copyright law ignores the fact that artists can monetise their work in other ways, without restricting anybody else. It enshrines in law one particular business model, at the expense of any possible innovation

     

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  8.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:40am

    Re: copyright

    "Try growing up."

    Try reading. It really will help you to make sense.

    If you think Google is sustaining $38 billion in revenue from ads on pirate sites, you have much bigger issues. That is probably why no one talks about it, because it isn't reality.

    As for ISPs charging for broadband. I guess you didn't read the article condemning the ETNO for trying to extort money from the ITU, or all the articles about bogus data caps. So I'm not sure which version of TD you read?

    "It's a fight about who gets the 'right' to rip off creators. It used to be music labels and publishers, now it's Big Tech."

    Wow, maybe you missed the previous article (click back on your browser) about authors self publishing.

    Ok I get it now. You read the invisible version of TechDirt that only Clint Eastwood can see.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    Copyright law enables a particular business model while letting creators choose that model or any other they like. Give away all your work if you want, copyright law does not force you to tell it.

    You can innovate however you want with your own content and the content of other like minded creators. Oh, you want to skip that content creation part and use other people's stuff without asking them...hmmm, well that might be a problem for you in the short term.

    On the bright side, with giving away your content having wild benefits and absolutely no drawbacks, everyone will be freeing all their content soon so you will have lots to work with. I hear there are 100 new stories hitting the public domain shortly...innovation ahoy!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:57am

    Re: copyright

    I doubt there's a single case anywhere of any copyright holder insisting on licenses to avoid infringement via web caching or indexing


    Denmark: “Deep Linking” Under Fire by Newspaper Publishers” by Solana Larsen, Global Voices, 22 Nov 2008:

    Blogging journalists in Denmark are up in arms over a renewed effort by Danish newspaper publishers to stop websites like Google News from linking to individual articles rather than a newspaper's homepage. They call this “deep linking”, and it is precisely what bloggers usually do. Regardless of what is considered normal practice around the world, the Danish Association of Newspaper Publishers insist they only want homepage links, so they can better control the user experience.

    Specifically, the Danish Newspaper Publishers Association are frustrated that Google News in Denmark wants to list and link to articles of Danish newspapers without paying them royalties.

    [...]

    There was a similar dispute in Belgium in 2006-7, when newspapers there took Google News to court and according to Finfacts threatened to fine them €1 million a day if they kept linking. In Denmark, there are also precedents. In 2002, the Danish Newspaper Publishers Association took a Danish web company, Newsbooster, to court for emailing links to news articles to their customers. Newsbooster was forced to shut down.

    [...]

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 4:59am

    Re: copyright

    It doesn't make much sense to impugn someone else's credibility when you sum your entire argument with name-calling and a blatantly erroneous conflation.

     

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  12.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: copyright

    Aww, you/they left out the best part, where the Belgium newspapers won, google did exactly what they stated they wanted(what they actually wanted to happen was for google to pay them for providing advertising for them), and they immediately started screaming that google was unfairly retaliating against them by doing so.

    Good times that, good times.

     

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  13.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 5:46am

    Re: copyright

    ...you've never heard fo the Association Press?

    Or Warner Bros?

    Or Sky Broadcasting?

     

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  14.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: copyright

    In Australia the Industries of Film, Television & Music [FTM] both Directly (value of labour and capital inputs minus intermediate inputs) and Indirectly (value of intermediate inputs that generate flow-on or indirect contribution via activity created within other industry sectors) actually contribute a wopping...

    wait for it....

    0.4% of GDP!

    Yes.. point 4 percent. Not 4% not even 1% even less than half of one percent.

    Though it seems they are the most uptight, winging, and loudest protesters to how they contribute so much to our economy. The Australian government has known this for decades and this report is even more incentive for our Law Review Commission in their copyright review to estate unequivocally that we need absolutely copyright reform when it comes to what is actually in the best interest of the Australian economy. Which is still one of the top 5 in the world (ie: $1 AU = $1.04US as at time of writing)

    So whether you think that that 14% of our GDP is neither here nor there, the facts speak otherwise and if you knew this the rest of your statements are ingenious themselves. If you didn't realise this than maybe you should actually understand the actual real world economics of the matter before you spout your rhetoric.

     

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  15.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re: copyright

    Oops.. Sorry Joseph this reply of mine was in direct reply to tom green

    I'll repost - disregard this one please people. I blame too much blood in my caffeine system

     

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  16.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 5:53am

    Re: copyright

    Note this is a Repost in correct thread :(

    In Australia the Industries of Film, Television & Music [FTM] both Directly (value of labour and capital inputs minus intermediate inputs) and Indirectly (value of intermediate inputs that generate flow-on or indirect contribution via activity created within other industry sectors) actually contribute a wopping...

    wait for it....

    0.4% of GDP!

    Yes.. point 4 percent. Not 4% not even 1% even less than half of one percent.

    Though it seems they are the most uptight, winging, and loudest protesters to how they contribute so much to our economy. The Australian government has known this for decades and this report is even more incentive for our Law Review Commission in their copyright review to estate unequivocally that we need absolutely copyright reform when it comes to what is actually in the best interest of the Australian economy. Which is still one of the top 5 in the world (ie: $1 AU = $1.04US as at time of writing)

    So whether you think that that 14% of our GDP is neither here nor there, the facts speak otherwise and if you knew this the rest of your statements are ingenious themselves. If you didn't realise this than maybe you should actually understand the actual real world economics of the matter before you spout your rhetoric.

     

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  17.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 5:55am

    Re:

    They contribute 0.4% to the Australian economy ONLY!

    That little factoid is something they really don't want anyone to know and really makes people think (pollies especially) when actually pointed out to them.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    Re: copyright

    > Try growing up.

    Try taking your own advice. Well, you are kind of cute when you're pouting like that. Even more cute is the fact that you linked your website to the post --- as if I'm going to be your greatest fan now... LOL

    Thank God that there's enough good legally free music on the web now that I don't have to bother to maintain blocklists for people like you who go out of their way to make me dislike them.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 6:05am

    Re: copyright

    [reads comment slowly and taking notice of what was stated therein, namely things like "Big Tech" and "we should be free to steal whatever we want", starts laughing out loud]

    bob, is that you?

     

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  20.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 6:11am

    I personally haven't checked the study for methodology which is where most studies fail hard. However it is good to see effort being mounted against the copyright deluge. Once you rise awareness to the monstrosity that copyright has become most people will get pretty worried and often outraged.

     

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  21.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 6:19am

    Re: copyright

    I doubt there's a single case anywhere of any copyright holder insisting on licenses to avoid infringement via web caching or indexing, so that $150 billion is neither here nor there. Most copyrightholders are perfectly happy with normal exceptions and many grant free licenses for certain uses.

    Maybe true - but the point is that that is not what the law says. The law says that you have to ask permission every time. Now this has been worked around to some extent by case law re-classifying "ephemeral copies" (or somesuch words) as non-infringing - but these judicial tweaks don't really address the root of the problem - which is a law designed for horses trying to cope with spaceships.


    What you guys never, ever, talk about is the way enormous tech companies like Google and the ISPs make a huge amount of money out of the wholesale infringement of copyright, via placing ads on pirate sites and charging extra for fast broadband,

    The ads on pirate sites bit is a lie. For the rest these companies make money by providing physical infrastructure and other services that people want such as search. Search benefits those who sell stuff (including copyrighted stuff) online by dramatically lowering the costs of publicity.
    and also wage expensive PR campaigns to prevent copyrightholders getting any kind of recompense from the activity.

    Rubbish - the people doing the campaigning are the rightholding middlemen - and they've been at it for over 300 years.

    Copyright supports and provides income from creators everywhere,

    No it doesn't. Making stuff people want and selling it at a price they are prepared to pay makes the money. Copyright does nothing but to allow middlemen to rip off the orginal creator.

    and everywhere it's being slowly eroded,

    Sadly it isn't. If it were then that would be great.

    leaving many creators with no income whatsoever to go on creating their art.

    Sob story number 354. Sorry we've heard that one for 300 years - and we don't believe it - because it simply isn't true.

    In the meantime Big Tech continues to make large profits out of 'free' music, books, and films, while investing nothing in their creation.

    As above the big tech companies make money by making real scarce stuff and selling it at a fair price.
    It's not a fight about 'freedom' or 'free speech', or anything else similar. It's a fight about who gets the 'right' to rip off creators. It used to be music labels and publishers, now it's Big Tech.

    No it's still the publishers. The tech companies make their money honestly (by comparison).

    You'd have a bit more credibility round here

    Round where - not round anywhere I'm familiar with!

    if you actually addressed what's really going on, rather than continuing to pursue an adolescent agenda which basically says "we should be free to steal whatever we want".

    Modify the last line to say something like "we should be able to do some work once and live in luxury for the rest of our lives" and apply to yourself.

     

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  22.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 6:24am

    Re: copyright

    Try growing up.

    Talking to yourself? Everything in your comment has been discussed ad nauseam and properly debunked.

    Google makes money out of ad revenue they generate because people like and use their services. ISPs idem.

    Fast broadband is needed for proper streaming so why don't you blame Netflix for the entertainment industry woes while you are at that?

    And unfortunately copyright is being used to censor and stifle freedom of speech instead of focusing on commercial exploitation of creative works as it should so it is a fight about freedom of speech. It's also a fight to prevent culture from being locked up.

    wage expensive PR campaigns to prevent copyrightholders getting any kind of recompense from the activity

    This is flat out laughable. It is proven that many of them throttle heavy downloaders and popular p2p protocols in order to avoid investing in their outdated networks. It's particularly laughable when you see the six-strikes scheme going on in the US in cahoots with the MAFIAA. It's even more laughable when you see the MAFIAA waging expensive PR campaigns (specially in the Govt) to enact over aggressive laws that hinder the ability of end users to do what they want with the content they purchased.

    You are just a lame joke, tom. Just like your masters. Go sleep in your cave yes?

     

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  23.  
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    Ninja (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re:

    Oh, you want to skip that content creation part and use other people's stuff without asking them...hmmm, well that might be a problem for you in the short term.

    I think it's pretty much ok to use existing content to come up with new stuff. It's called derivative work (remix, mash up, fan fiction etc and falls under fair use). The problem is that the MAFIAA doesn't like that and created all sorts of restrictions on this specific type of work so until we can scrap copyright and start over adding these exceptions it will be a problem. And this reform will indeed be a "long term" solution due to the power the MAFIAA lobby still yields in the Govts.

    I hear there are 100 new stories hitting the public domain shortly...innovation ahoy!

    I see your sarcasm here. I can only reply with "DISNEY ahoy!"

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 7:14am

    Re: copyright

    Being disingenious doesn't come strange to you, either.

    It is not about who gets the right to rip off anyone.

    It is about who gets to pay for the costs associated with surveillance/restrictions on the internet.

    Now, you can whine about why copyright holders have to take these costs and not the government or a third-party, but ripping off creaters by creating these surveillance/restrictions are politicians and "creater-industries". It is not done by third-party providers.

     

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  25.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 11th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Re: copyright

    Somewhat disingenuous - I doubt there's a single case anywhere of any copyright holder insisting on licenses to avoid infringement via web caching or indexing, so that $150 billion is neither here nor there.

    Actually, if you follow these discussions, the licensing of caching/indexing is a big deal right now. There are the efforts in Germany and France to charge for indexing. Plus there was a big legal fight in the US (Cablevision) about caching and whether or not that needed to be licensed. Similarly, there was language at one time in ACTA and TPP regarding caching. Saying that these are not actually being debated shows an ignorance of some of the bigger legal fights going on these days.

    What you guys never, ever, talk about is the way enormous tech companies like Google and the ISPs make a huge amount of money out of the wholesale infringement of copyright, via placing ads on pirate sites and charging extra for fast broadband, and also wage expensive PR campaigns to prevent copyrightholders getting any kind of recompense from the activity.

    Almost none of that is true, but it appears you've bought the bullshit line of some ignorant and uninformed people. First of all, the idea that Google makes money off of infringement is silly. Have some ads showed up on bad sites -- sure. But Google seems to take them down pretty quickly. Case in point: part of the evidence against Megaupload was the fact that Google killed its ads on their site way back in 2007.

    Separately, those ads are all cost-per-click, meaning no one makes any money unless people click. Do you really think that people are going to these sites to click on ads? A study done by Columbia university last year showed that most of these linking sites make very, very little money.

    The idea that ISPs make money from broadband is simply ludicrous. The ISPs all charge flat rates for the most part, and infringement tends to use up more bandwidth, so such things tend to COST them more.

    Meanwhile, we've covered tons of stories of Google and the ISPs cracking down on infringement, frequently how they go way above and beyond the law in doing so.

    Oh, and the idea that they wage campaigns to make sure artists don't get paid is ridiculous. Google has had multiple programs that help artists get paid, including ContentID which has made a bunch of artists a ton of money (while being super over aggressive on copyright). At the same time, they've been providing artists a platform to host and stream music and video... entirely for free, and you bitch about it? Aren't you feeling entitled today?

    Basically nothing you state here has any basis in reality.

    Copyright supports and provides income from creators everywhere

    No, copyright sets up a specific business model, which tends to lead to a very small number of creators making money, while most make very little, if any. Copyright does not support anyone. In the meantime, we've seen alternative business models, which don't rely on copyright, help creators make much more money.

    and everywhere it's being slowly eroded

    In the last 100 years copyright has expanded only. It has never contracted. The idea that it's been "eroded" is a historical farce.

    You haven't said a single truthful thing here.

    leaving many creators with no income whatsoever to go on creating their art.

    Again, time and time again we've seen that any artist who really embraces new business models tends to make MORE money than they did before. It's those who don't adapt who are struggling, but that's got nothing to do with copyright. It has everything to do with a changing market.

    In the meantime Big Tech continues to make large profits out of 'free' music, books, and films, while investing nothing in their creation.

    Investing nothing other than providing you the most amazing platform for creation, promotion, distribution and monetization ever... and all for free? You may be the most ungrateful, uninformed person on this subject ever.

    It's not a fight about 'freedom' or 'free speech', or anything else similar.

    It is when completely clueless people want to expand copyright even further in ways that clearly impact free speech.

    It's a fight about who gets the 'right' to rip off creators. It used to be music labels and publishers, now it's Big Tech.

    Try living in reality for once.

    You'd have a bit more credibility round here if you actually addressed what's really going on

    We do. You have not.

    Try growing up.


    And you sum it up with an ad hom.

    Congrats on writing what may be the most uninformed comment here, ever. That takes work.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2012 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: copyright

    That's not possible. bob would never link to art he allegedly produces. How else would he and the other ACs be able to claim that their work is being stolen on filesharing websites?

     

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  27.  
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    relghuar, Sep 12th, 2012 @ 3:25am

    ...probably will, be contested...

    You mean, like, contested with their own perfectly solid and precise figures?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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