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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good argument and a great survey of online copyright, 17 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Free Ride: How the Internet is Destroying the Culture Business and How it Can Fight Back (Paperback)
This is an excellent survey by the journalist Robert Levine. He has a point of view (that copyright does represent something important), but he covers the various parties - media companies, ISPs, google, artists, who are all effected by free copies made of copyrighted works online. He explains how some companies (particularly google and sites that host copyrighted materials) ARE making money from these materials, through advertising, yet the rights owners (either the author or the publishers) are making nothing. This doesn't seem right. Yes, the marginal cost of copying a song, or an article, or a movie, is very close to zero, but as he says, did anybody think that when they bought a music CD they were paying $15 for a plastic disc? Levine's argument is that in the longer term this will damage the culture, because in the old publisher / record label / newspaper model, creators had a guaranteed income and marketing for their works. Record labels might have been making big profits, but their artists did pretty well too. In the new world, Apple with their gadgets, Google with their advertising, ISPs with their broadband networks, all make money from the trade in copyrighted materials, all benefit from them, but none of that money goes to the artists or into developing new artists. The 'safe harbour' provisions of the US Digital Millennium Copyright act, a big subtopic in this book, means that ISPs are not responsible for illegal copying of copyright materials on their network, but the activity itself remains illegal and at the same time media companies (e.g. Guardian, record labels) are losing more and more revenues each year. This, he hopes, is not the end game, but some improved law or commercial set of agreements between the tech giants, the ISPs, the media companies and artists, can evolve now that we have seen how things have developed over the last 15 to 20 years. Robert Levine has conducted over 100 interviews with players in the USA and Europe, and argues passionately for a compromise that rewards rights owners but doesn't impede the growth and openness of the internet.
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