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Among the questions we’ve asked our panel of experts was this one: Keeping in mind Viacom v. YouTube and potential related legislation, do you expect U.S. copyright policies to change in 2008 and if so, how?
Selections from their responses are below. We’d love to hear your take on the question or on our panelists’ predictions in the comments. For more information on the NewTeeVee 2008 outsourced predictions, see this post.
“I don’t think copyright policy will change in 2008. If it does, it
will be terrible for content creators and viewers alike because it
will show that policy makers have not taken the time to understand the
web as a distribution and communications medium.”
John Cioffi, Hitachi America professor of engineering at Stanford (a.k.a. DSL soothsayer):
“It has to change — viable commercial structures considering all
parts have to emerge. Artists, actors, and originators will get paid a lot
less but it may require mechanisms that arbitrate the return within
limits for both sides.”
“In my opinion, YouTube and other UGC sites that profit from the uploading of pirated material do not qualify for the DMCA safe harbor, and I would expect that to become clear without the need for any ‘change’ in the law. To claim that sites who readily allow and profit from unauthorized uploading are protected by the DMCA is misguided: that would require the wrong party to do the heavy lifting and really protects those who aid and abet pirates rather than protecting the intellectual property owner. Without protection for intellectual property, the incentive to create the next great work is diminished.
“Nevertheless, technology will continue to make it easier for users to acquire, manipulate and re-distribute protected content and IP owners need to embrace, rather than fight this. An effective way to combat piracy is to create even better incentives (financial and otherwise) for customers and distribution partners to embrace the legitimate content. This is the Hulu model. At the end of the day, users want to do the right thing and customers will forgo piracy and embrace IP owners that give them a legitimate way to get the easily find and get the content they want, at a fair price (free always works), and packaged in the best experience possible.”
“Companies are cleaning up their practices and nobody wins if the government or the courts get too involved.”
Henry Jenkins, director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities (media and popular culture academic):
“I am reminded of Grant McCracken’s comment that in the future, companies will have every right to retain tight control over their copyright and every economic incentive to loosen control. I see those two forces at war with each other at the moment, vividly reflected in the struggles over YouTube.
“Talk to creatives or even marketers within the media industries and they understand fully that it is in their best interest to insure that at least some portion of their content travel through shared media portals like YouTube. We are seeing the movement from a sticky culture, based on pulling eyeballs to one place and holding them there as long as possible, to a spreadable culture, based on creating new value, generating new consumers by allowing grassroots intermediaries to move your content across different niches.
“In this new world, if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead. And those companies which seek to prohibit the manipulation and circulation of their content will find themselves cut off from the mechanisms which generate value in this new media economy. Talk to the legal departments of these same media companies and they are lagging far behind, still holding onto an old prohibitionist logic which sees grassroots participation as depreciating rather than appreciating the economic value of their content. In doing so, they will suffocate the very properties they seek to protect and antagonize the markets they seek to court. Copyright is going to liberalize over the next decade not because of the merits of legal arguments but because of the weight of this new economic logic.”