More on copyrights, copylefts and copywrongs. Paul Brislen has been CEO of TUANZ from early 2011:
Since then he’s battled mobile termination rates, the threat of a 10-year regulatory holiday under UFB, international mobile roaming rates and copyright legislation whilst keeping a watching brief on the UFB and RBI rollout, spectrum auctions, content debates and the ultimate aim – a faster, smarter, more connected New Zealand. A journalist by trade, past roles include head of corporate communications at Vodafone NZ as well as the editorial spot at ComputerworldNZ.So he has an informed view of copyright and digital stuff. Plus (spoiler alert!) he is a very good bloke. Here is his response to last week’s speech by Paula Browning, CEO of CLNZ:
Much as I agree with Paula Browning’s comments regarding the necessity for good copyright laws (I spent many years making my living via copyright and would continue to do so but 40c/word is a killer rate), the arguments of the Fair Deal coalition aren’t so much about copyright as about the business model that currently is used to support it.
TUANZ is a member of the coalition and supports its work, not because we want to see an end to New Zealand literature but because we want to see an end to the ridiculous Hollywood system that breaks the planet up into regions and charges different rates for the same publications in different places and which stops customers (the audience) from getting to the content (film, TV, music and yes, in some instances, literature) and paying for it.
To demonstrate the Hollywood model, let’s forget about literature or television or music or the movies for a moment. Let’s change the product but apply the same process.
Imagine the All Blacks were playing Australia tonight and the game was being shown live all over the planet. The Brits could watch, the Americans (as if), the South Africans, the Aussies . . . but in New Zealand the broadcaster announced, “We’ll be screening that game at a later date. Coming up, some gardening show!”
There would be violence on the streets and a swift change to the law. Why? Because the idea of restricting access to content is nonsense.
Television content is often scheduled around a channel model that is no longer relevant to the audience. Gone are the days where we all sat down at six o’clock to watch the evening news on the state broadcaster.
Instead, I watch news as it happens via Twitter or various “breaking news” alerts that pop up and I, as a consumer of news content, love it. Other people are quite happy to watch the packaged news, but prefer a different time, a different provider or a different news feed altogether.
The idea that we need someone else to decide what we can watch and when is fast becoming hilarious in its naivety, yet the TV producers seem hell-bent on insisting on it.
The music industry underwent the same head-in-the-sand movement a few years ago when Napster emerged. Now that Napster is dead, the industry has realised it can’t continue in the old world order and so we have iTunes, Spotify and countless other outlets for music. You don’t even need to pay any more – you can subscribe (sounds like radio to me) or listen to ads as well in order to cover the costs.
Television is slowly waking up to this but all too often it still can’t figure out that customers don’t want to buy 58 channels of rubbish in order to secure access to the one show (typically Game of Thrones) that they do want to watch.
Customers want to watch the shows they pick. They want to watch them on TV but also on iPads and Galaxy Tabs. They want to watch them at midnight or lunchtime. They want to watch them one by one or back to back.
It’s this change of control that customers are after, not the destruction of creative content. Far from it.
Kevin Spacey said it much better than I can – give control of the timing and location of your content to your customers. You can read all about it here he’s entirely right.
I buy books. I buy a lot of books. I buy almost all my books via my Kindle these days for two main reasons: price and speed.
I recently bought a book by an author I’ve been following on Twitter for some time. We chatted, he and I, about his upcoming book and when Amazon said I could buy it I cheerfully plunked down my cash.
Not so fast, said Amazon. You can’t have that book until July – six months away.
I was gobsmacked, and so was the author – it’s an eBook, so why do I have to wait? Why does he have to wait for my payment?
We both had to wait because someone in marketing had decided that even though the promotional work to get readers to buy the book was taking place in January, readers in New Zealand couldn’t buy the book until July – for no reason at all.
It’s that attitude we want to change. We have money and we’re happy to spend it, but we won’t buy stuff we don’t want and we won’t wait.
The internet is, in effect, a giant copying machine. The words I write in this box on Blogger.com don’t get “sent” to you, they are “copied” to you. Actually, they’re copied to my ISP which writes a copy on Blogger.com’s servers which displays them to your ISP which takes a copy when you click on the link and finally a copy ends up on your computer where you’re reading it now.
That’s not going to change any time soon. Wishing the genie back into the bottle isn’t going to work. To keep publishing alive you have to embrace this movement and realise that it has the potential to be your biggest success instead of a tremendous threat.
We’re not fighting against copyright, we’re fighting against ridiculous business practices that stop authors and artists from connecting with the audience. We’re fighting to remove artificial barriers that are designed to push costs onto producers of content while denying the audience access to that content.
I’d recommend taking a leaf from the big computer-game company which had trouble with massive amounts of piracy in Russia. Every game the company produced was a huge best-seller everywhere in the world except Russia, where it was pirated out of existence. They couldn’t sell a copy, so great was the piracy.
Instead of spending millions on an ad campaign, instead of lobbying the government for harsher penalties and tougher sentencing of “criminals”, instead of all the usual responses to a copyright problem, they had a look at their publishing schedules. Someone, somewhere deep in the bowels of the company had long ago decided that the US market must get the product first, and then Europe, then Canada and South America, then the Oceania countries, then Southeast Asia, then the Indian subcontinent and then (finally) Russia, many months later.
Probably they had a good reason for doing this when you had to ship container loads of DVDs around the planet, but today everyone downloads games.
So they moved the publishing schedule up – Russians could buy the game on the same day as the Americans.
The result was that they did. Russians bought the game. Russia is now one of the biggest game markets in the world, and piracy is a thing of the past, not because everyone was scared or because the internet was broken to make sure they couldn’t pirate, but because the business model changed to suit the medium.
My fear with all this talk of copyright is that we are raising a generation of children who don’t value it. They don’t see that someone has worked very hard to produce the thing they love and that if they don’t get paid for it, they’ll go back to flipping burgers or some other demeaning job they don’t want (possibly in marketing).
That would be awful because, as I said, we value copyright. We’re living in a golden age of television with great content available on a daily basis. I read more comics than I have in years, buy more music than I have since I was a teenager because it’s easy to buy and yes, I read more books than ever before.
We shouldn’t throw all that away because the business model needs fixing. Copyright is too important for that.The portrait of Paul above was supplied by him and is from the Listener, probably taken by David White. I have no idea who owns the copyright. It’s digital, so it’s free. Yes? No? Is me using it OK? If so, why? If not, why not? Discuss.