Why care about rights online?

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During Arts Law Week OPEN CHANNEL had also organised the Rights Online forum drawing much from the previous years Free Screen Culture and my work with APC.au. PhD student, Seth Keen, blogged the forum. I’d prepared an introductory paper and presentation based on the APC Internet Rights Charter.


[SLIDE 1 – Why care about online rights]

(Play video – Eyes on the Fair Use…)

Information and communication technologies are integral to human society. In many cultures today, information retrieval and presentation – the recording of wisdom and history – is still done with the use of speech, drama, painting, song or dance. The use of writing changed this enormously, and the invention of the printing press allowing communication on a massive scale, through newspapers and magazines. More recent innovations increased further the reach and spread of communication…

These innovations, or information communication technologies can be grouped into three categories:

  1. Information technologies uses computers, which have become indispensable in modern societies to process data, and some still believe, to save time and effort (tell that to my waist line, aching wrist and elbow).
  2. Telecommunications technologies include telephones and the broadcasting of radio and television, often through satellites.
  3. Networking, or Online technologies, of which the most widely known is the Internet, but which has extended to mobile telephony, Voice over IP, or VOIP, satellite communications, and other forms of communication such as wireless, bluetooth and so on.

And it’s here, online, where unprecedented means for communication are shaping our lives, what and how we create and more importantly, how we make it available.

[SLIDE 2 – Online rights issues]

Ownership – Who truly owns what you publish online? How can you be sure that your content stays online, that the site, or server you are hosting with can remove your content without notice. Australian still has some of the most expensive telecommunications charges in the world. As such, many of us host our content off-shore, but under whose laws are our works protected?

Copying or sharing – Should we care about “piracy”? An un-official survey of New Zealand record company executives and their iPods showed a significant percentage of content on these devices didn’t come from your local iTunes store. So tell me, who really are the pirates?

Protections – What is the difference between ALL and SOME RIGHTS RESERVED? Why are some licenses flexible? How much protection do we need given that society “free to borrow and build upon its past is culturally richer than a controlled”, or over-protected one.

Time and format shifting – We can make our work available as Podcasts, Vodcasts and compressed streams. People can elect to listen or watch our work when ever it’s convenient for them. Time and format shifting is changing the way we consume media and no doubt how we make it. What are the implications for artists and their audiences in a world of interoperability, of time and format shifting?

Parody and satire – Many of us have become familiar with the term “fair use”. Is there an equivalent in Australia and if so, to what extent does “fair use” protect our need to critique, for instance, our decision-makers and does it protet us when we host our content off-shore?

Copyright Amendment Act 2006 – Enacted on the 1st of January 2007 when many of us were either nursing hang-overs or still wide-eyed and wide-awake.

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