The numbers behind the Copyright Math

A few weeks back, I gave a short TED talk about ???Copyright Math.??? Since TED draws both Hollywood and Silicon Valley bigwigs, I thought it would be a great venue for raising certain rights issues that have been a sore point between the two industries for years. But January???s brawl over the proposed SOPA law was a raw and recent memory. So I decided to make my talk playful, rather than sermonizing. Everyone can laugh at silly infographics. And who DOESN???T want to deface a Leave-it-to-Beaver-like Christmas scene with pirate-and-Santa graffiti?

Since the talk was so short, I couldn???t dive deeply into the numbers and sources that I based it on (which would have shattered the whimsical tone anyway). But even my silliest numbers were derived from actual research, performed by an actual Copyright Mathematician (me, that is). So I thought I???d use this blog post to put my sources and calculations out there for anyone who???d like to nerd out on the details.

Same old, but like, funny. Except perhaps for Kim Dotcom.

Apparently copyright mathematicians can go on to this line of work:

“This has not, however, stopped their earnings from pushing back the boundaries of pure hypermathematics, and their chief research accountant has recently been appointed Professor of Neomathematics at the University of Maximegalon, in recognition of both his General and his Special Theories of Disaster Area Tax Returns, in which he proves that the whole fabric of the space- time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact totally bent.”

Even more advice for David Shearer

Explaining is everything: Some pundits love to repeat the phrase that ???in politics explaining is losing??? ??? the subtext being that the public are too stupid to understand any complex political or policy issues. But the political science consistently shows that in matters of controversy the public looks to their political leaders (amongst other people) to explain what???s happening and to argue their case. This is something National is really good at ??? Key especially ??? and Labour generally doesn???t do at all, which means our window of political debate is constantly being shifted to the right as National wins almost every argument by default (Welfare and education being the obvious examples). The great exception to this phenomena: Capital Gains Tax. The conventional wisdom was that this policy was political suicide, but David Cunliffe went out, made the arguments and won them all. By the time the election came around public support for Capital Gains was roughly double the level of support for the Labour Party. Not explaining is losing.

That paragraph alone. Always a bit suspicious of aphorisms.

50 Shades of Grey and the Twilight Pro-fic Phenomenon

  • Not only are these authors eschewing traditional publishing, they???re eschewing digital publishing outside of their own communities. They made their own fandom spaces, and then they made their own publishing houses within those spaces. These women weren???t satisfied with the options modern publishing gives them (oh, gee, I wonder why)???but it turns out that they don???t need modern publishing in order to be successful. As reader ???Wildwood??? comments on the Daily Beast:

    The article points out a phenomenon that I see happening across all areas of artistic endeavor, which is the marginalization of the ???suit???. In the past, there has always been a solid wall of judges ??? in the form of editors, publishers, producers, agents, etc ??? who decide what will be offered up for public consumption. Their decisions were not always correct, nor were they always made purely or ethically. The internet takes out the middle-man decision makers and allows artists to put their work directly into the consuming public hand???. For the first time, nobody is in control of what we are offered except ourselves and the artists who create it!

  • Copyright isn’t dead just because we’re not willing to let it regulate us

    The inability of copyright to regulate cultural activity isn’t anything new. It’s probably true that this inability reduces the profitability of some entities in the entertainment industry’s supply chain, just as it increases others’. But that’s just a question of profit maximisation, not survival.

    The problem is that the entertainment companies treated the increased ease of copying in the age of the internet as a signal that copyright should be expanded to cover more people and more activities, far outside of the entertainment industry. What they should have done is picked a new proxy for “this is an industrial activity within copyright’s scope” and soldiered on regulating themselves, without trying to regulate the whole world at the same time.

    It’s time to stop declaring copyright dead because we aren’t willing to let it be the ultimate regulator of everything we do with a computer.


    Judge Orders Failed Copyright Troll to Forfeit ‘All’ Copyrights

    Righthaven, a copyright-troll law firm that failed in its attempt to make money for newspapers by suing readers for sharing stories online, was dealt a death blow Tuesday by a federal judge who ordered the Las Vegas company to forfeit ???all of??? its intellectual property and other ???intangible property??? to settle its debts.

    Patent is not alone in being an abused “IP.” But sometimes abusers are punished.

    Yahoo! v Facebook: Making a tough job harder

    This is not the first time that Yahoo! has reached for its lawyers to target a firm about to go public. In 2004 it launched a legal assault on Google involving patents shortly before the search firm staged its own listing. Google ultimately agreed to a settlement over the matter, taking a $200m charge against its earnings to do so. Yahoo! is no doubt hoping that Facebook will throw in the towel as well to avoid awkward legal wrangling in the run-up to its initial public offering (IPO).

    Perhaps Yahoo will patent the pre-IPO patent suit. A wonderful innovation that deserves state protection.

    NetHui 2012

    Registrations open for 2012

    Registrations for NetHui 2012 ??? New Zealand???s largest and most inclusive Internet-related conference ??? are now open! Registrations cost a low $40 including GST. The conference is being held at Auckland???s SkyCity Convention Centre from 11 ??? 13 July. If you???re interested in taking part in collaborative, community-led discussions on the impact of the Internet??? Read more >>

    61 registrations on opening day. Get in quick.

    Unpacking Kony 2012

    My goal, in this (long) blogpost is to get a better understanding of how Invisible Children has harnessed social media to promote their cause, what the strengths and limits of that approach are, and what some unintended consequences of this campaign might be. For me, the Kony 2012 campaign is a story about simplification and framing. Whether you ultimately support Invisible Children???s campaign ??? and I do not ??? it???s important to think through why it has been so successful in attracting attention online and the limits to the methods used by Invisible Children.