Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Reinvention of Copyright in HTML5

Fifty Years ago the first commercial photocopier was sold by Rank Xerox sparking fears from publishers that their copyright would be compromised and predicting the end of publishing. When the first tape driven recording devices appeared similar music publishers made predictions of a end to studio publishing. The movie industry long resisted the video market because of copyright fears. Today it’s the Internet that music, movie and paper publishers most fear. Peer to Peer networks distribute content to millions of people in a nano-second and have proved extremely difficult to shut down. Books, Articles and Images copied and redistributed, newspapers suffering from falling advertising revenue as people seek out news on demand online. Even television has seen a huge decline in advertising as the Youtube generation seek the interactive internet with the world chopped into 5 minute chunks of video.

Publishers seem to face a loosing battle as their content is lost in a sea of data and efforts to stem copyright theft becoming a constant battle for intellectual property. Draconian fines and even incarceration have failed to prevent the free distribution of copyrighted material. A hypocrisy has arisen from publishers that are keen to gain from the huge internet audience and at the same time as promoting artists and video through sites such as Youtube and Metacafe have also been entangled in litigation. Singers and songwriters made famous through distributing their content free on sites such as Myspace have then condemned copyright theft after their popularity had risen sufficiently to sell their recordings.

In 2007 Radiohead out of contract with their record label became the largest band in the world to distribute an album “Rainbows” free of charge through the internet, telling fans to pay as little or much as they like for their recordings. The move was not universally popular drawing criticism from the music industry and other artists. However amongst the public it was both welcomed and visionary propelling Radiohead’s popularity worldwide. In Sweden there were protests when the founders of The Pirate Bay were sentenced to prison for facilitating the distribution of copyrighted material via their torrent search. The Swedish public made clear their feelings in 2009 by voting Pirate Bay to a seat in the European Parliament.

Rupert Murdoch has taken the decision to put much of the content of the News Corporation behind a “pay wall” in an effort to establish paid content online. Many Internet experts claim this goes fundamentally against the principals of the World Wide Web and its goal of distribution of information. However Eric Schmidt of Google recently commented on the need for journalism, which is not adequately served by blogs. Investigative Journalism has long been the cornerstone of democracy. JFK referred to the press as playing a fundamental role in a free society in his address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, 1961.

“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment”

Micro payment for content on the internet has failed to succeed in previous attempts, but a copyright free society may be inadequate to fund effective investigative journalism and undermine civil freedom. Today we are experiencing the biggest change in the distribution of information and media in our history. That change is fundamental and unstoppable but much as many seek a copyright free society we must be aware of the dangers that presents.

Creative Commons seeks to reinvent the cumbersome copyright system by building a framework for sharing content on the web within HTML5. They seek to wrap copyright within the markup through a system called RDFa (Resource Description Framework in attributes), making it easier to copy and paste content. Adopters of the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language (ccREL) include Flickr, Google, Facebook and Drupal. Technology and the internet are now causing us to rethink the role Copyright serves on the world wide web and in a modern open society.


Tibet Photocopiers Concern China

China, following on from its censorship of the Internet, has identified photocopiers in Tibet as a potential threat to the state. Fearing what BEJING may class as demagogic machinations, a new law has been introduced that requires the owners of printing and photocopying shops to obtain a permit. They will be required to catalogue their clients and all material being copied or printed.
The Lhasa Evening News reports that the new rules are being implemented right now. Tibetan protesters claim the new rules are part of a wider aim to quell Tibetan intellectuals after a March 2008 uprising and subsequent casualties.
The Government Authorities in Tibet view printers and photocopiers for shops as potential channels through which Tibetan writers, artists and other intellectuals can spread dissident information.
Chinese Officials claim that their goal is to bring stability, ethnic unity and improved living standards to the region. Internationally, China has been much berated for its censorship policies. This has meant that writers and songwriters have been detained and people arrested for sending what are deemed to be anti-government email.
The Golden Shield Project operates on the Internet and is a censorship program installed by the state of China. Often referred to as the Great Firewall of China, the Golden Shield Project has drawn intense criticism from Internet Activists and Search Engines alike.

Google have had a turbulent time with Chinese censorship claiming that Government Censorship is inconsistent with its corporate ethics. Google shut down its search Web site in China on March 22 because it said it disagreed with the Chinese government Internet censorship policies. However, Google are now set to renew its web services according to latest reports. Google had been redirecting its China users to their Hong Kong site where the censorship is not applied.
Chinese proxy servers regularly appear online in an attempt to get round blocked internet content. Using a proxy ip address to surf the Internet has become a common thing among China’s cyber community.
The economy of the People’s Republic of China is the third largest in the world and despite disagreements over censorship many companies see that the benefits of competing in China outweigh the problems with the Golden Shield Project.
With a rumoured cost of over $900 million the Golden Shield Project of China remains one of the most sophisticated firewalls in the world. Blocking IP Addresses of non-government approved websites and controlling DNS. This latest rule in Tibet extends the controlled distribution of information to the low-tech world of copiers