December 22, 2003
Decidedly Medieval Copyright Acts

The darkness of the copyright wars gets deeper:

Starting Jan. 1, toting a camcorder into a movie theater will be a crime in California. Under the law, moviegoers who see a person with a camcorder in a theater may make a citizen's arrest. Those convicted could spend a maximum of a year in jail and be fined up to $2,500.

Have Californian legislators lost their minds? Sure, the movie industry and music industry is important in California, but come on. First of all, the price (in loss of personal freedom) paid through measures like this far outweigh the damage of copying. Secondly, the legislation will most likely not work.
Meanwhile, it becomes more and more clear that the current strategies of MPAA and RIAA to protect their property is working to their disadvantage. The strategy seems to be to make "One last stand" at the curren tmedia formats - adding copy control and watermarking to CDs and DVDs - but these formats are beginning to be obsoleted by networked storage and new devices like MP3 players and new networked 'entertainment centers' like this and this.
Soon an argument for pirating your music is that you only need the CD or DVD as proof of purchase. You never use the information on the disk for anything because it is just not compatible with your media playback devices.

That innovation is a great destructor of value is nothing new. The telegraph was famously obsoleted by telephones and railways (at least for personal transport) by cars and planes. By not adapting their products to new technology the movie and music industries are building another exampe of this. It is not a given, nor should be a requirement, that new technology supports old businessmodels. Television makes an interesting example: Suppose media owners of the time had tried a use based pricing scheme. Broadcast television made use based pricing unmanageble and use based rights regulation unenforceable. Insted the advertising model was invented, and that model was a perfect match for broadcast television. Televison was not built on the businessmodel of cinema or live performance and it would have been a complete failure if it had. The fact that the new businessmodel has been such a success may lead one to forget that television did destroy a lot of businesses, namely movie theaters. I'm sure one can find complaints from disgruntled theater owners at the time, that television was killing their industry, that sound almost similar to the current complaints about internet based media devices.

Posted by Claus at December 22, 2003 04:51 PM | TrackBack (0)
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