CES: Copy(right) Fights

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The second knowledge track session I attended was Copy Fights: Consumers and Hollywood, Are They Compatible? Here are some of my notes. As before, I’m sure some of my own bias will creep into them.

Copyright and Fair Use as we know it is actually facing more issues outside the US than inside.

There are proposed laws that would add another layers of rights on top of the already complicated mix of rights that need to be addressed when creating content. This new law, if I understood it correctly,  would let the people who transmit a signal have a level of transmission rights. Sarah Deutsch, from Verizon brought this up several times as something they were lobbying against happening.

The media industry has learned some lessons from the Napster and Grockster cases, which they won, but didn’t actually better their positions by winning in the way they did. The recording industry suing their customers didn’t engender positive press and the peer-to-peer activity has only increased in magnitude. The industry has approached YouTube from a much different perspective. YouTube hasn’t been “sued out of existence” like Napster and Grockster. Why? First of all, up until recently, YouTube didn’t have any real assets to sue for. They were an unprofitable company with no clear business model. (Google was at one time in the same exact situation though, and they figured out a business model.) Also, YouTube was trying to work with the industry to enforce their copyrights. They immediately pull down content that they are told violate copyright law. They’ve also been trying to sign agreements that will give blanket rights to protect them. Universal has signed such a deal with YouTube.

YouTube has also promised to introduce a filter on uploaded content that will preemptively identify content that breaks the law. The panel pretty much uniformly thought this was probably not going to work and that after it has proven a failure, the whole situation could change again.

Near the end of the session, one of the panelist said that this is both an exciting time for the consumer and a very frustrating one as well.

Description: The movie and music industries are in a time of transition. Innovative technologies offer new audiences and revenue streams. Even as new business models are created, we see lawsuits against manufacturers and new legislation imposing government mandates on products. In today’s digital world, how do we safeguard copyright holders while also protecting the rights of manufacturers and lawful consumers? Ask any movie studio and they’ll tell you video piracy is a huge concern that’s not going away any time soon. Certainly, the music industry has yet to solve its piracy problem. What could the music industry have done differently to stop piracy from becoming so widespread? Are legal download services such as iTunes helping to turn the tide? How big a problem is movie piracy today? What steps can Hollywood take to keep from walking the same plank as the record labels?Moderator: Declan McCullagh, , CNET News.com
Panelist: Sarah Deutsch, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Verizon Communications
Panelist: Joe Fleischer, Co-Founder, BigChampagne Online Media Measurement
Panelist: Blake Krikorian, CEO, Sling Media
Panelist: David Leibowitz, Managing Partner, CH Potomac
Panelist: Ashwin Navin, President and Co-Founder, BitTorrent, Inc
Panelist: Jim Ramo, CEO, Movielink
Panelist: Don Whiteside, Vice President, Corporate Technology Group and Director, Technical Policy and Standards, Intel Corporation

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