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The complex world of copyright, licensing, and piracy

Bill Rosenblatt untangles several thorny areas of IP distribution and ownership

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Our TOC theme this month is “legal” and I thought it would be interesting to have a conversation with Bill Rosenblatt covering a variety of topics in the legal realm. Bill is a recognized authority on intellectual property in the online world. He’s also an author of the Copyright and Technology blog as well as the founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies.

Key points from the interview include:

  • Copyright vs. Creative Commons — As Bill says, “copyright law is a huge mess”, and Creative Commons (CC) is a viable alternative. CC has never fully embraced the commercial content community though. CC also doesn’t really make enforcement of IP ownership any easier.
  • Libraries and sales vs. licensing — I feel our industry is overcomplicating the library channel situation but Bill explains how digital content isn’t subject to copyright but rather to whatever licensing terms are being offered. Bill feels libraries are “screwed” unless there’s a change in the law. It doesn’t help that libraries aren’t accustomed to trying to operate like businesses.
  • First-sale doctrineReDigi is a great example of a company that’s pushing the envelope on sale vs. licensing of content. Bill feels it’s unlikely ReDigi will prevail in the current litigation to resell digital music. (See related TOC article here.)
  • Piracy — Bill points out that obscurity is indeed a bigger problem than piracy…until you become famous. He asserts that Lady Gaga doesn’t benefit from piracy but I’m not sure I agree. After all, maybe future paying Gaga fans start off pirating a song or two before they get hooked.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

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  • http://twitter.com/Kunvay Kunvay

    There are so many vehicles for managing intellectual property. Copyright ownership combined with smart licensing seems to be one popular way of managing content distribution.  We’re big fans of Creative Commons also too and hope more people will give increased thought as to how to smartly manage their IP assets.  Bill Rosenblatt’s podcast is one step in the right direction of being more better informed of key issues.