Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Newzbin, the future of copyright and all that

On Twitter, Lilian Edwards recently asked: "What are the two biggest questions for regulation of the copyright industries today?"

My answer was: "How to persuade users that copyright is not meaningless, and thus ought to be obeyed."

Of course, a tweet is too short to explain this, but fortunately I was speaking at the SCL London Group meeting last night and remembered to record my thoughts.

The recording is at: this link

And the slides, to help you follow, at: this link

Monday, 17 October 2011

More than 100% of the fall in music sales is because of file sharing?

Interesting paper by Stan J Liebowitz on SSRN: "The Metric is the Message: How Much of the Decline in Sound Recording Sales is Due to File-Sharing?" click here.

He has consolidated the estimates in a series of research and other papers, corrected them for the same metric, and used this to produce a range of estimates for how much of the fall in sales was caused by file sharing.

His conclusion, which is pretty dramatic, is that over 100% of the fall is due to file sharing. The number is over 100% because he suggests that sales would otherwise have grown, so that the fall from previous year's figures is less than the "actual" fall (if you see what I mean).

This paper needs re-reading, by me at least, to see whether the conclusions are fully justified. Forexample, I'm not certain that the papers he analyses, and thus his conclusions, make the causal link strongly. But if he is right, it suggests that if only people wouldn't keep breaching copyright law, the music industry wouldn't be in its current parlous state.

It's that "if" where the crunch comes. I don't think users ever did obey copyright law (I was a teenager in the 70s when the audiocassette arrived), and the reasons are allto do with the fact that (a) copyright law is not accepted by users as addressed to them, plus (b) online you can't not copy, so the law seemseven more meaningless than it did in the analogue age.

More about this in "Making Laws for Cyberspace" (OUP, April 2012)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Rethinking Intermediary Immunity

This is the topic for my seminar on Monday 6 December at 14.30.

There's no worked through paper because I've only just started thinking about the topic - the slides (available here) are more a set of questions to explore in the seminar.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Taking the Copy out of Copyright

The paper for my forthcoming seminar (Wed November 24) is here. Serious copyright scholars are welcome to rip it to shreds now, though I'm only wedded to the basic principles I set out - more work needs to be done on the detail.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Slides for seminar Tuesday 26 October 2010

Slide for "The Authority of Law in Cyberspace" are here (click).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Authority of Law in Cyberspace

My investigation into how best to make law for cyberspace has led me into the murky world of jurisprudence! The sequence was as follows:

1. In practice, states find it very difficult to enforce their laws against non-resident cyberspace actors

2. Cyberspace needs to be a (generally) lawful place if it is to be useful to all of us

3. Thus laws need to be obeyed because they are laws, and not only if there is a real risk of enforcement

4. So why do cyberspace actors obey some laws but not others?

My draft conclusions are at: http://www.box.net/shared/imo5ok0qd6

Monday, 22 March 2010

Final seminar 2009-10

The aim of this final seminar is to explain where I think my research project is going. The slides here will form the basis of my presentation.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thinking Globally (2)

Original post updated to give link to the seminar slides.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Thinking Globally

The title for my next seminar on 15 February is "Thinking Globally", in which I examine the extraterritorial reach of national law online, the problems this creates, and what states might do to reduce the problem.

The first draft of my paper is at http://www.box.net/shared/t795xsbkdq

Slides are now at http://www.box.net/shared/pegz52f2py

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Online and Offline Equivalence

My seminar next week is on the topic of the equivalence of online and offline law. Is it important that they be broadly equivalent? If so, how can this be achieved?

The paper and slides can be downloaded from the links below:



Friday, 4 December 2009

Information Ownership - final paper

My paper on this topic is complete, and is here. It's definitely a preliminary report, because the consumer issues (in particular) need more work, and an expanded version will appear in due course.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

How to Make Bad Law (Part Two)

My next seminar is on Monday 30 November, and I've produced the slides and uploaded the complete paper (part 2 starts at heading 3).

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

How to Make Bad Law

The overriding theme of my research project is the mistakes we have made in the law covering online activities, and how to fix them. I'm currently working on the idea that one reason for our mistakes is a desire for excessive precision in the law. I presented the first part of this work in a seminar earlier this week, and the slides (http://www.box.net/shared/erda6g0tmc) and written paper (http://www.box.net/shared/fz57jie7kl) are now available - these are very much discussion drafts, not my definitive thoughts.

Part 2 will appear in early December.

Some of my earlier work on other aspects of this issue is available online:

“The Law of Unintended Consequences – embedded business models in IT regulation”, (2007) 2 JILT http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2007_2/reed

“Taking Sides on Technology Neutrality”, (2007) 4:3 SCRIPT-ed 263 http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrc/script-ed/vol4-3/reed.asp

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Where does publishing online take place

Today's find is the decision of the District Court for Delaware in Moberg v 33T (available from the Loeb & Loeb LLP website).

Everybody "knows", following Gutnick v Dow Jones in Australia, that information on the Web and other internet sites is published wherever someone reads it. It's therefore easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this reasoning applies to all fields of law, and not just defamation.

In Moberg the problem was that digital photographs had been made available via a German website, but copied by the defendants and placed on their own US websites. The photographer sued in Delaware, and was met by the defence that any work first published in the US (which could include simultaneous publication in the US and other jurisdictions) needs to be registered with the US Copyright Office.

To avoid the application of this rule, which would make a nonsense of the Berne Convention, the court held that publication occurred only at the place of the German website, and not in the US.

We now have two possible rules:

1. Publication via internet postings takes place everywhere; or

2. Publication only takes place where the website is located (wherever that is - the court did not need to decide this question, merely that publication had not occurred in the US at the moment of uploading/making available).

There may be others to come!

Perhaps the most useful lesson from this judgment is that a purposive, rather than merely technical, analysis is required for legal analysis. It is quite conceivable that future litigation might decide that an image on a German website, which was downloaded by a US resident, would be published in the US for the purpose of an infringement action against the German website (but not for the purpose of imposing the US Copyright Act's registration requirements).

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." Quite so.

Information Ownership in the Cloud - slides and audio clip

On Monday 19 October I gave the first in my seminar series for Queen Mary students and staff - "Information 'Ownership' in the Cloud". Slides are available here, as is an audio clip for the 1930s Thought Experiment which doesn't work as slides.

Monday, 14 September 2009

What this blog is about

My first audio posting http://www.box.net/shared/3kc0rppb5j, and a link to the .pdf of my research project description http://www.box.net/shared/xx01gps8ir have been uploaded. These describe what I'm trying to investigate, and the first sub-projects which I'm working on.