Saturday, November 06, 2004

BloggerCon: Law

[These notes suffer from the end of day attention overload; not a function of the session but of me]

Larry Lessig is doing the session on Law.

Facilitate conversation. Two possibilities: important law blogs, how do architect freedom into the tools that are being built.

Typical rockstar PowerPoint. Talks about how Creative Commons can help wrap content with a protective architecture layer.

Conversation about fair use.

After lunch lull. Having trouble tracking the conversation.

Comment from the room: What do you think about FreeRepublic.com and Los Angeles Times. [ref:LA Times vs. Free Republic]

Lessig: Need to architect this issue so that there is win-win on both sides. The ability to quote and talk about issue. How do we make it so that both sides win? Rather than the way that p2p ended up being only about piracy.

Comment from the room: Issues where concentrated costs experienced by one group, distributed costs by another group. People with concentrated costs usually one. Gradually, distributed, diffused costs eventually add up to more. This is a political problem.

Lessig: IP law is the best example of rent-seeking. They are going to gain a lot so that they will fight hard and pay for it. But others get small individual gains (though larger as group) and so don't pay to fight. Looking for a way to get things to pass into public domain. For examples, after 50 years pay $1 to keep copyright. Motion Picture Industry fought this because it would burden poor copyright holders. Too hard for blogging to change the law. So important to think about how to build it into the tools.

Comment from the room: A few places where the most money always wins. IP, copyright law is one of the places where this is true.

Lessig: It's still about concentrated interests.

Comment from the room: In the last 20 years seen rise of trade associations who lobby and litigate. That has happened in the last 20-30 years and adds weight to this.

Comment from the room: Again, the most money win. Problem is that there is over litigation in the field. Someone receives a cease-and-desist letter and can't fight it because they don't have the funds. Also, punishment is not appropriate to the crime.

Lessig: Law sees theft -- stealing a CD from Tower records is $1k fine -- different from downloading the same CD can cost $1.5 mil. because it is copyright infringement. More lawyers are pushing the other side. EFF, Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

Comment from the room: One of the problems is that production has often been owned by a few groups. As we create more content that doesn't require expensive production equipment, will that change the balance of power?

Lessig: That's the hope. As more people get involved in creation it will tip the scales.

[missed some comments -- delved into letters I didn't follow]

Lessig: Strategy shouldn't be about violating the law -- in changes the structure of defendent/victimhood. Instead, make sharing, trading, mixing explicit. Again, build the intelligence and the freedom into the tools.

Comment from the room: It is possible to separate the internet from the laws of any one country.

Lessig: Possible but not practical. In Iran, a site made movies available for $1. It was legal in Iran and we had no copyright agreement. However, it took a week to get the site shut down.

[missing more comments -- same point about building the tools, representing the rules]

Comment from the room: Find like-minded people to agree with you and develop tools that make the transaction cost easy.

Talked about the Induce Act.

Comment from the room: If I have a creative commons license on a weblog post that has fair use information, what did I just do?

Lessig: I helped with film Outfoxed. Director wanted it released on the Internet, re-mixed. The problem is things that fair use in Outfoxed might not be fair use outside the film. It gets very complicated.

Comment from the room: Metadata -- can we develop tools to id the parts that are being used as a fair use portion? For example, use blockquotes as a way to mark fairuse material.

Comment from the room: How much of a problem is it that the general public isn't interested in copyright, IP law?

Lessig: Huge problem because the risk is hidden. Again, building tools that make this explicit and help to route around these issues. For example, Moveable Type build CC license into their tool.

Again, post-lunch, end-of-day lull is making my attention span and my notes, not as good.

Problem comes back to the fact that copyright owners are rent-seekers and they are not willing to give up that income.

[reference: IPac]

Open Commons protocol (for example, the Internet) helps to build business.

Building the tools that offer an alternative: flickr: creative commons.

Zack Rosen talked about the way that giving it away can be a good business model -- something between completely free and rent-seeking.

(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs, lessig, copyright)