If I buy a physical book from a bookshop I can lend it to someone else. And, when I’m finished with it, I can sell it.
If I buy an e-book from, for example, the Amazon Kindle store, I can’t (in the UK, currently) lend it. I can’t sell it.
The same is true of most digital formats.
That’s something that bothers me: how come I don’t own a digital copy in the same way as a physical copy?
Well, thankfully, that may soon change. A recent EU ruling about computer programs could have far-reaching consequences:
The first sale in the EU of a copy of a computer program by the copyright holder or with his consent exhausts the right of distribution of that copy in the EU. A rightholder who has marketed a copy in the territory of a Member State of the EU thus loses the right to rely on his monopoly of exploitation in order to oppose the resale of that copy… The principle of exhaustion of the distribution right applies not only where the copyright holder markets copies of his software on a material medium (CD-ROM or DVD) but also where he distributes them by means of downloads from his website.
So a publisher’s distribution rights end when they sell a computer program or game for the first time.
The Court observes in particular that limiting the application of the principle of the exhaustion of the distribution right solely to copies of computer programs that are sold on a material medium would allow the copyright holder to control the resale of copies downloaded from the internet and to demand further remuneration on the occasion of each new sale, even though the first sale of the copy had already enabled the rightholder to obtain appropriate remuneration. Such a restriction of the resale of copies of computer programs downloaded from the internet would go beyond what is necessary to safeguard the specific subject-matter of the intellectual property concerned.
In other words, publishers can’t expect to make a profit every time a new person plays a game (or reads a book).
The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
So basically, as you were, but hopefully with a bit more clarity. I reserve the right to change this for individual posts, hence the wording:
It’s extremely tempting to restrict people’s usage of things – who doesn’t like power? But in practice, not only is it extremely difficult (and time-consuming) to do so, it’s actually fundamentally at odds with what I’m trying to achieve (change!) through my writing. 🙂
I’ve been invited to be part of a Becta project into Open Source Software (OSS). “What is OSS?” I hear you ask. A Google define: open source software search does a reasonable job, but for the layperson something a bit closer to home is needed.In a strange way, using OSS is a bit like buying Fairtrade products. Most people don’t see the direct results of their choice: they’re a water droplet in a beneficial deluge.
I’m sure you’re aware that creating software programs and web applications involves ‘programming’; programmers enter code in one of many programming languages. When this ‘source code’ is ready to be released, it is ‘compiled’ ready for Joe Public to be able to install it on their computers. Joe Public, however, can never read what was in the source code. Usually, that’s hidden and protected by copyright.
OSS, however, makes the source code readily available. This means that anyone with the requisite knowledge can make changes to the software. Note that even though OSS is usually free, nothing about the philosophy behind it says that the software can’t be sold for profit, just that the source code should be made available (under something called the GPL).
Strong communities often develop around popular OSS. You may have heard of an operating system called Linux. There are different ‘distributions’ (or versions) of this – perhaps the most popular being Ubuntu. The PCs in my classroom run Edubuntu, a derivative. You’d be amazed at what a community can put together and make available free of charge!
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation where a program or web application you’ve relied upon has stopped being developed, but I certainly have. It’s frustrating and there’s nothing you can do about it. With OSS, however, good projects never die due to the community being able to access the code. Someone else can come along and continue developed the software.
Many people reading this post will be educators. Not only does ‘free’ usually sound good to schools, but the philosophy enshrined in OSS should appeal to. Students can contribute to these communities and projects, and real-world learning experiences can be had. Show them the alternative to capitalism. :-p
There’s a wealth of OSS for pretty much every need. Check out the following repositories:
I stumbled across Wixi today. It’s a combination of desktop operating system, file-sharing application and personal file repository. It reminds me of EyeOS with which I experimented a year or more ago. It’s currently supposed to be in invitation-only beta, but you can sign-up using this page and get unlimited storage!
Once you’ve created your account and logged-in, you can create folders and upload your media to the site. This can then be tagged and set as ‘private’ or ‘public’. If you set, say, some video as ‘public’, it can be streamed (but not downloaded) by visitors to your Wixi profile page. You, however, as the owner of the content, can both stream and download it no matter where you are. Wixi does not require any special software to run, other than a web browser (currently only Firefox and Internet Explorer).
Although I experienced a few minor and not-too-irritating bugs whilst uploading, I’ve found it a great (free!) service so far. I’m stumped, however, as to how they’re going to deal with potential copyright infringement law suits. A quick search for ‘DVD rip’ brought up a whole host of films uploaded by other users that I was able to add to my Wixi page and stream (full-screen!) almost immediately:
Wixi is definitely one to keep your eye on, especially as you are able to embed widgets to share your content in blogs, wikis, etc. I’m certainly not recommending this one for educational uses. I think this one’s for personal use only… 😉
Give it a spin, and add me as a friend – I’m on there as dajbelshaw. 😀
The BBC reports that a leaked Green Paper obtained by the Times newspaper suggests the UK government is planning to bring in a ‘3 strikes then out’ policy for ‘illegal’ Internet downloads. First, the user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP) would issue an email warning. Second, the user will undergo a period of suspension. Third, the user will have their Internet access cut off. ISP’s who fail to enforce the rules would be prosecuted.
I think everyone knows my stance on copyright and which side of the fence I sit on. Given that literally millions of people download TV shows, etc. from the USA before they air in the UK (technically illegal) then I think the government could have a bit of a fight on their hands (ID cards anyone?)
I have a feeling that the reason that what I would term ’21st-century forms of knowledge’ are not filtering into schools is because at their core they are fundamentally anti-capitalist. Traditionally, knowledge has meant power with access to the upper echelons being available only to the privileged and/or wealthy. The Internet (along with concomitant social trends) has changed that, leading to some talking about the world being ‘flat’.
It’s also tied into the idea of experts. Wikipedia has been shown to be just as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica, yet the former is edited by thousands of ‘amateurs’ whilst the latter is put together by a team of ‘professionals’. It’s certainly larger and a more valuable research for me, being always up-to-date and covering non-traditional information.
Proudhon is famous for his slogan ‘Property is theft!’ in his book What is Property? Whilst I’m no anarchist, I do believe that we have the wrong way of looking at questions surrounding the ‘ownership’ of various things. Take digital downloads of music, for example. The talk here is of ‘intellectual property’ and ‘copyright’. Nevertheless, the music industry is being forced to change the way they deal with customers and, indeed, their whole idea of the inherent ‘value’ of singles and albums due to changes in way the younger generations look at and value music themselves.?
It’s the same with knowledge. As Woodrow Wilson famously said:
I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.
If knowledge can reside in networks as well as groups, we need to be not just ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’, but interacting with one another and collaboratively building knowledge. Many blogs and various sources of information and knowledge on the Internet (including photos posted to Flickr) are released into the wild with a Creative Commons license. Instead of focusing on the things that you can’t do with the information/knowledge/photograph/whatever, it focuses on what you can do. The license for my teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk blog, for example, states that my work can be shared or remixed in any way you like, provided that attribution is given, it is not used for commercial (i.e. for-proft) ends, and that any resultant remixing is also released under a Creative Commons license. Compare that to the restrictive practices of the RIAA…?
What does plagiarism look like in the 21st century? Can a line be drawn between that and being ‘inspired’ by another’s blog post? Where does the collaborative knowledge which comes as a result of wiki creation fit? Are examinations outdated? ?