On the occasion of the Feast of the Pirates, which will be held tomorrow, Saturday, March 19th at the cinema Capranica in Rome, just steps from Parliament, to discuss multimedia piracy and the future of copyright, Telematics Freedom Foundation is now bringing forward its proposal for a substantial disintermediation and expansion of the content market, and fair and democratic remuneration of authors and producers, through collective licensing systems inclusive of legalization of sharing digital content.
From piracy to the disintermediation of the content market
Proposal for a substantial disintermediation and expansion of the content market, and a democratic and fair remuneration of authors and producers, through collective licensing systems inclusive of legalization of sharing digital content.
This Saturday, March 19th, in Rome, in the cinema Capranica, near Parliament, the Feast of the Pirates will be held to discuss multimedia piracy and the future of copyright with the participation of various political figures from the right and the left, associations and activists who are part of a very broad and diverse movement in the country.
The event will be held apparently with the absence of representatives of authors and producers, who, by the way, are starting to surface proposals that include the legalization of free trade in content.
This absence is symptomatic of a serious lack of dialogue with them, which has encouraged the spread in the “movement” of a position that promotes a mere legalization of piracy, without considering the problem of a decent and fair compensation for those who decide to live on culture.
Taking the opportunity of this event and the discussion related, we are here to present a solution that we believe should solve the dilemma of how to legalize the sharing of content and, at the same time, fairly remunerate authors and rights holders, besides promoting a strong disintermediation of the content market.
PROPOSED SOLUTIONS AS OF TODAY
For a long time there has been an intense debate on how to fairly compensate authors and producers if piracy were to continue its rapid spread and if a way to prevent it both constitutionally and technically is difficult to be found.
Especially in the case music, some of these solutions are already a practical reality for many mobile operators in the world, with a monthly fee of a few euros entitling users to a kind of “collective licensing” for millions of songs.
Most of these solutions provide a fixed fee for the user, either mandatory (through taxes, also applied to products) or voluntary (contribution) – which would then be allocated between the authors, based on some set criteria and procedures.
Almost all the proposed solutions require the allocation of these revenues on the monitoring and counting of individual content as it travel through IP networks
This monitoring presents enormous challenges for the citizens’ privacy and the fairness of compensation of authors and producers, and more. In fact, it would be technically impossible to carry out completely, verifiably, constitutional, and equitable. It would be:
- Seriously incomplete, because more and more content moving online is encrypted and therefore is not monitored;
- Subject to fraud, since it would be very unlikely to discover by citizens and associations the possible large scale manipulation by third parties, for counting contained within the proprietary computer systems;
- Severely invasive of privacy, as private or public bodies should constantly monitor the content shared by citizens with increased opportunities for a large or very large scale abuse of the right to secrecy of communications under the constitution.
- Unfair to the authors, because it is far from clear that the content most downloaded is also the most appreciated (many download content in the wake of advertising campaigns and then never benefit from them.)
Our proposal draws heavily on a proposal made in 2009 by Francis Muguet and Richard Stallman, the creator of the licenses of free software / open-source operating system GNU / Linux, clearly illustrated by an article on Gaia Bottà, Computer Point, 19 March 2009.
Instead of monitoring the content in the web, it is expected that this fee, however acquired (mandatory or voluntary), is than allocated among authors and producers on the basis of citizens’ choices, expressed in part directly and in part through private interviews to random samples of users. For example, the direct expression could be made publicly, over the internet, or private, offline wihile paying yearly income taxes.
This solution would effect not only the fairly compensated rights holders, but more importantly, would contribute greatly to democratize, decentralize and liberalize the market for content, thus alleviating the tremendous influence that many players – publishers, advertisers, broadcasters etc. – have on the promotion and monetization of content creation, and indirectly on its financiability.
This solution, for example, if implemented in government acts, would result in a significant disintermediation of the market for digital content, making a direct financial relationship between the producer / author and consumer / citizen, “from producer to consumer.”
Every author and producer will have increased freedom to create, knowing that the actual monetization and distribution of its cultural product will be more than ever dependent on the appreciation by an appropriate number of citizens.
Two additional political economic occurrences would be key factors in further realizing the huge potential for democratization and liberalization of culture through the spread of Internet-based multimedia fruition. These are: (1) the adoption of effective laws supporting the neutrality of the fixed and mobile networks, and (2) spread of major equipment and computerized systems for the use of digital content are made exclusively free software / open-source software platform, or those whose importance is managed and administered by an “open consortium” of content producers.
These issues will be dealt with in subsequent posts.