2010-09-26

ACTA and the Digital Economy Act

I can't stir myself to get all worked up over ACTA and the Digital Economy Act 2010.

As I see it, the world can be divided into physical, and informational things. Or rivalrous and non-rivalrous if you prefer. Examples of physical things are cars or a cakes. If I have it, you can't. Information on the other hand can be copied, so if I give you a copy of the information, I don't lose anything.

Different rules apply depending on whether something's physical or information. For physical things money works well. Also, you can have ownership, and therefore theft. For information things, money doesn't work, and nor does ownership.

There's been a recent flap because some products (music, films, software, books, newspapers) have moved over from the realm of physical to that of informational. In the old days of music, you had to buy a record or tape (or a wax cylinder!) and so the music industry worked by selling those physical things. Now, with advancing technology, music has moved over into the information domain.

Many of the old school record companies aren't willing to recognize this shift. They want to carry on as they did in the old days when music was physical. How can they carry on pretending music is still physical, when now it's information? Well, not easily. That's why they have used their considerable lobbying power to bring in draconian laws to force people to behave as if music is still rivalrous. And the result is ACTA and the Digital Economy Act.

Why am I not too worried about this? Well, it's so clearly a dead-end for record companies. A new economy, and way of doing business will spring up that isn't fighting against technology, but using it. For example, I expect bands will license their music to allow people to freely play, copy and modify it. But they will charge money for the physical bit, gigs, merchandising, public appearances etc.

I've concentrated on music, but the same goes for all those things moving from analogue to digital. I'm against ACTA and the Digital Economy Act, but I think it's a waste of energy to fight them since they are doomed to fail anyway. Let's use our energy to make a success of the new ways of doing things.

3 comments:

  1. So what is your view if I go to watch a film at a cinema, video it and then distribute the video on the internet?

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  2. Don't do that, it's against the law! One should never infringe copyright.

    What I'm saying is that film makers will inevitably end up licensing their work to allow people to freely copy it. How will they make money? I don't know, but they can't carry on as they are. Perhaps films won't make money any more. Perhaps they'll be funded by product placement, merchandising, adverts etc. Youtube seems like the way forward.

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  3. Ha, if Youtube is the way forward I'm going to make the most of cinema while its like it is!

    Odeon still have 40% discount, wasn't there something you wanted to see??

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