I was sitting in traffic today in Seattle (hard to believe), and listening to a radio story on NPR about the possibility of a strike by writers in the TV and Movie business. Apparently, their big point of contention is remuneration for their work as it moves into online formats. I’m not advocating anything with this posting, but would simply point out the compelxity of the economic structures behind content generation. If the Producers end up in a contract with the writers, actors, and any other unions that require payment for online reproduction of content – what does that mean for digital rights management and the need for the distribution mechanism to be able to count usage, or ad revenues, or any number of other metrics. The creators of the works want to be paid for their output, and not just for the delivery over traditional mediums.
We live in a very interesting time. Across all facets of society we have to be asking the hard questions about whether or not we value ideas. If we do, how we represent that value and how we choose to enable individuals to reap rewards based on that value become fundamental questions. Freedom of expression, the societal benefits of knowlege sharing, incentives for innovation, freedom for creativity without burdensome overhead for legal coverage…the list goes on and on.
I am still an advocate for the idea that collaboration is facilitated and under-pinned by intellectual property protection. Yet, it is clear that IPR is also the means for blocking these same things. Yet, when I look at open source software, standards bodies, business alliances/partnerships, or other collaboration environments, those with clear IPRs in place that are workable and reasonable end up being more effective at fostering collaboration based on a set of trusted principles for all parties.
I guess I found the radio story most interesting because it reflected the second and third tier relationships that result in activities that people find objectionable. The desire of the writer to get paid for his creative work is reasonable, the producer’s desire to recoup investment costs so he can pay the writer is reasonable. The use of technologies to control the content in order to drive revenue then becomes a point of contention. Simple on the surface, but super complicated in the details.