Copyright fleas and new media

Dateline: Tue 30 Jun 2009

Sir Timothy Berners-Lee is the father of the Internet. All hail, Sir Timothy.

If you don't know his story --- thanks here to reader Jim Burns for turning me on -- here it is, in a flash.

A computer scientist, Berners-Lee first conceived of the concept of sharing academic material among researchers via computers in 1980. In 1989, he created the World Wide Web. Like all early computer gurus working towards a common goal, his greater vision was that the web must be free. 

Berners-Lee foresaw a new way of communication in which internet service providers should provide "connectivity with no strings attached."

Read about him in Wikipedia

His vision is now where the rubber meets the road when it comes to newspapers, or "old media." The specific issue is copyright laws and the belief that tightening them up can save newspapers...something that was tried with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1998.

We all know how that has gone: content on the web has grown at a lightning pace, blogs have proliferated and newspapers are giving it away free online.

That's the rub, say defenders of the old media. Why should news providers like the Associated Press and every other news-gathering operation see their information "ripped off" and linked to on various web sites, blogs, etc?

The answer is not one that newspapers will want to hear. John Blossom, author of Content Nation, says -- this is from a blog post, see link below -- that "attempting to juryrig the copyright laws is not an appropriate way to deal the problem."

Here is more, from DaniWewb's Home Page, "Old Media's Last Stand":

"What it comes down to is should we use copyright law to create artificial supports for older publishing models. Blossom uses the analogy of what happened to blacksmiths around the turn of the 20th century when the automobile industry developed.

"'Smart blacksmiths became mechanics and, sometimes, automakers. Similarly, publishers must accept that they are no longer the masters of the technologies that people use to consume content and to adjust their business practices accordingly.'" says Blossom.

Blossom sees old media as isolated behind its walled gardens, utterly failing to keep up. The conclusion from DaniWeb:

"... old media, like some characters in a Gatsby novel, cling to their old way of life desperately hoping that they can hang on, not realizing that the world has passed them by."

Thanks to reader Tom Henderson for sending the DaniWeb link.

Here it is:





Homer [Member] said:

Blossom's theory is nonsense. It ignores the idea that someone who creates content should have ownership rights to it. Maybe he's never produced anything that he considered to be of value.

Copyrights encourage the production of worthwhile work. Who would spend years on a novel or a video game if anyone could link to it for free? Some news outlets allow linking as marketing. Some don't. It should be their choice.

2009-06-30 19:53:19

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

The blacksmith analogy is absurd. It ignores the fact that newspapers pay a great deal of money to create their content and thus have absolute right of distribution and ownership.

2009-07-01 06:58:37

hendy [unverified] said:

You can pay a lot for content and the content will be good. But the distribution is now over the web. It's very much like getting all dressed up with no place to go.

McLuhan said: the medium is the message. The medium has changed from dead trees and soy ink to something you hold in your hand or read with on your lap.

The absolute right of distribution and ownership is fine-- if someone watches, Tom. If they don't, then it's all for naught.

The web is about distribution, not about IP (intellectual property). Yes, copyrights are disrespected, but they're enforceable. Note the litigation going on to extract revenues from the injury of copyright violation. I have done this very thing with GoogleBooks. They paid dearly.

And your attitude and opinion won't stop this trend. You're entitled to them, of course, but the fact is (and I almost never use that hackneyed phrase) newspapers are and will continue to die, and digital news distribution and unified personal communications devices will put them all in a casket. I'm only 55, and was raised with newspapers. I love them. And I get my news from online sources now, and make my living by publishing digitally-- and do very well, thank you. You can, too. Stop being a blacksmith and become a mechanic. The horse and buggy days are gone. Now we'll cough with the fumes of digital ink, but there's even more changes to come in the future. It's not here yet.

2009-07-01 07:29:43

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Where will legitimate, ethical, accurate content come from, absent newspapers?

Who will pay to create content?

I don't care how long your fire hose is, when the hydrant is turned off, there's nothing comin out.

2009-07-01 14:17:38

hendy [unverified] said:

Tom, you mistake successful media companies for newspaper publishers. The two are different terms. Gannett, as an example, is a newspaper publisher, not a media company.

Both can have integrity, ethics, real journalism, and accurate content. The bloggorhea on the Internet shouldn't be mistaken for the aforementioned. These are different things. It's the medium, and the message. In 2008, I had about $100K in revenues/earnings from publishing research on the Internet. It was not news. It was not journalism, but it was ethics-subscribed research not sponsored by a vendor.

I don't want to do news. I'm not a journalist per se; you can understand what's fact from my opinion readily.

The hydrant is turned on. I'm working MORE this year than last. Lots of people will pay for content, and content providers will pay journalists, writers, and so on.

The hydrant is not turned off. We just changed the plumbing. No, the model's not perfected yet, and various ecosystems-- some of them suspect and prima facie propaganda-- but we're working that out, slowly. Those that are ethical ought to join in the ruckus to help guys like me straighten it out. It needs truth. It needs ethics. It needs accountability-- or it will succumb to constraints because of its evil.

2009-07-01 14:58:24

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

hendy, with respect you do not answer the question abour who will pay to develop the content now created by newspapers. The stuff called "news." For which there is no specific sponsor.

Who will pay for unveiling the news about Center Township misdeeds, the CIB's stupid and/or corrupt mismanagement, the construction problems with Hamilton County's new arts center?

You get paid to do research and write about it because there is someone with a vested interest willing to write a check for your services, someone who can use your product. You create media content.

Who will create the news content, absent newspapers?

All the varporwarish jargon about new channels of distribution simply avoids dealing with the elephant in the room: who will pay for reporting the news if and when newspapers go away?

(When there is no more original content to appropriate, what will bloggers like Huffington use? When the AP no longer has newspaper subscribers to pay for their reporters, where will the reusers and appropriaters get content?)

The ramifications of losing America's newspapers cannot be overstated, and obfuscation about New Media and bloggers and the internet as a replacement simply don't add up.

2009-07-01 15:32:48

hendy [unverified] said:

You have the HuffPost doing its job, some of which is journalism, some blogging, some bloggorhea, and some is just warmed over National Enquirer.

Let's take the IndyStar (please, with apologies to Henny Youngman): journalism, some opinion, some tripe, and some warmed over National Enquirer, horoscopes and some statistics.

You ask for the diff: they're just ain't none. Who cares about Center Twp misdeeds? Not enough people. Who cares about the CIB? Same answer. What can we do? Tell me--> what happens when the train wreck called the CIB goes red? It gets bailed out. What happened between discovery and what happened last night when GovMitch signed the midnight budget is now just historic soap opera. Nothing you or I said made one whit of difference, did it?

You could watch the train wreck, maybe eat popcorn as you did it, but you're just as uninvolved as the next Joe or Jane: you have little say accept at the bar, the church meeting, and so on.

America's newspapers are dying, and news is not. You mistake calling all the Internet a bunch of bloggers and don't understand how media works, or you'd be burning up your keyboard participating. Instead, you're the blacksmith in the metaphor. A little mechanical knowledge goes a long way to fixing the car and retiring the buggy.

2009-07-01 22:20:32

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