Open source content is theme of J.D. Lasica's Darknet

Open source content is theme of J.D. Lasica's Darknet

Summary: Over the weekend I read J.D. Lasica's (right) book about the Copyright Wars, Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation, and was surprised to find open source as an underlying theme.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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J.D. LasicaOver the weekend I read J.D. Lasica's (right) book about the Copyright Wars, Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation, and was surprised to find open source as an underlying theme.

In breaking down the boundaries between consuming and producing media, people really want an open source model for it, he writes:

On a mundane level, the Darknet is about getting free stuff. On a deeper level, it's about millions of people engaging in a shared media experience and finding a clandestine way to detour around restrictions imposed by the entertainment industry.

The problem is one familiar to readers of this blog, the lack of a business model.

In software, the answer to the business model problem is services. Companies get paid to write specialized code, to install systems, to integrate them, and to support them.

Lasica describes some ways in which the open source media attitude can be monetized in the same way. Things like D.J. Dangermouse's Grey Album,  fan fiction sites, and clubs where D.J.s sample snippets of music and film to create new experiences. The problem, he writes, is that copyright owners seek to ban these forms of expression, rather than profit from them.

Think of a Fred Astaire move, an Eric Clapton riff, or a Giorgio Armani design as a piece of code, then see how these are being combined to create new forms of art and experience, he writes. All we need are new business models and entertainment conglomerates can profit like IBM.

Why should we care? It's because the absolutism of the copyright industries prevents open source from even being used to play these works, let alone manipulate them. As computing increasingly moves from being the manipulation of letters and numbers to the manipulation of sounds and images, this absolutism could stop the open source software world in its tracks.

This is a good read, covering the waterfront from movies and music to games. Lasica's prose is accessible, his sources are numerous, and his attitude is more like that of, say, a BSD advocate than a GPL one. Next time I see him, I'll have to get him to autograph my copy. There are worse things to take to a beach this summer.

Topic: Open Source

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  • I keep hearing it

    "The problem, he writes, is that copyright owners seek to ban these forms of expression, rather than profit from them."

    and

    "All we need are new business models and entertainment conglomerates can profit like IBM."

    I keep hearing people say that all we need are new business models and everyone could profit from "open-sourcing" copyrighted material. But, what are the business models? How does a copyright holder profit from a single purchased copy being made freely available on the Internet? How do we convince the current generation, thoroughly convinced now that it is "entitled" to free music, to start paying for it?

    Carl Rapson
    rapson
    • I agree

      Carl makes a solid point. Open source media or content is growing like weeds, on many levels, but none of the levels I see a profit coming from it. There are lots of 503(c)'s out there, but I don't see a Red Hat for content. We (society) need people who know how to profit from 'free' content.

      I know of one company that seems to be profiting from allowing content to be made available for free... Magnatune. They offer, in effect, a dual license for independent musicians. Consumers can download, burn and share music from the Magnatune library, but when a company wants to use the music for a film that is to be distributed for a profit (or whatever commercial use), than Magnatune charges for the material. Very cool.

      I am going to pick up this book!!
      opensourcepro
    • Nice lead in

      [But, what are the business models?]

      The WiMAX steamroller and the Streaming Paradigm.

      [How does a copyright holder profit from a single purchased copy being made freely available on the Internet?]

      He doesn't. There is no need to make media "freely available".

      [How do we convince the current generation, thoroughly convinced now that it is "entitled" to free music, to start paying for it?]

      The same way the cable companies did (over "free" TV) - 1. Offer a large library/catalog of media and 2. Make it convenient!

      This is the essense of the Streaming Paradigm - you stream media content to subscribers (from a large library). Although someone COULD download media files for free, you offer low prices and CONVENIENCE - Online playlists (including DJ/celebrity choices), easy searching for media titles (by content/genre/title plus "fuzzy" searches for things like "more gore" or "less explicit sex (family)"), low footprint (no large harddrives or backups or DRM needed), FREEBIES (clips or entire songs/movies with embedded NON SKIPPABLE commercials), universal access (with WiMAX), reviews, ratings, "special features" (like pre-release movie trailers for paying customers), feedback forums (for user reviews), blogs, RSS feeds, playlist trading (i.e. "buddy" lists) ...

      If that model doesn't trump the download questionable quality media, and managing a HUGE library on an equally huge hard disk (plus DVD racks on the wall), PLUS the illegality issues - then nothing will.
      Roger Ramjet
  • It's Open Content.

    Not Open Source Media. I have no idea why people keep mixing the terms...

    Open Source media would be a CD with guitar music and a guitar....

    Open Content seems to be what you are talking about.
    knowprose