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Censorship, IPs’ and Business

By on July 31, 2011
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Following the BT/Newbinz decision, an argument about censorship, IP rights and business models broke out on Twitter. The discussion is presented here as a single post, collated with storify.

Weighing in on the debate featured here are: Miles Jacobson, studio director at Sports Interactive (@milessi); Ed Fear, producer and writer at Curve Studios (@edfear); Michael French, editor-in-chief of MCV and Develop (@Michael_French); Rob Fahey of GamesIndustry.biz (@robfahey); Steve Gaffney (@sdgaffney); GamesBrief’s very own Nicholas Lovell (@nicholaslovell); game designer Tony Gowland (@FreakyZoid) and technology journalist Stuart Dredge (@stuartdredge).

MPA win high court case against BT, giving a clear path towards anti-piracy site blocking in the UK – http://bit.ly/nVIEZB
milessi
July 28, 2011
Great. Internet censorship is now here and legal in the UK. Yet another reason to emigrate.
edfear
July 28, 2011
@edfear umm. It’s been here for years Ed, for other illegal things.
milessi
July 28, 2011
Not advocating piracy, but news that movie studios are bullying (through legal action) legislation into being is not necessarily GOOD news
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French what are the negatives?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi I’m just wary: dangerous lines can get crossed when cor porations gang up on service providers and demand their own way.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@milessi it’s only been to protect the public (which I still think is wrong). now it’s to protect corporations, which is a whole new level.
edfear
July 28, 2011
@edfear Yeah – I can’t help but be uncomfortable at seeing systems introduced to fight child porn co-opted to protect business interests.
robfahey
July 28, 2011
@milessi These firms need to embrace/understand distribution, not attack the remote fringes of it.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French there are systems & guidelines that could be put in place that could stop that. It’s better that persecuting the public imho
milessi
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French embracing distribution is fine. Embracing blatant copyright infringment and IP theft not fine.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@edfear is it better to have site blocking for flagrant infringement, or persecuting the public via the DEA?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi No one’s saying they should embrace piracy or give up their rights. But money may be better spent fighting the source, not the web.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French the source IS the web, isn’t it?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi The source is the groups that distribute screeners and DVD-rips, etc., no?
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French the distribution in file sharing is those that are downloading, as they upload at the same time, no?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi But that wouldn’t happen if the file hadn’t appeared in the first place. And anyway, that’s not my issue here.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@milessi The MPA has had access to an index site cut off. That’s just denial, isn’t it? Piracy will still happen with just one aid taken out
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @milessi next logical step: total ban on public access to car boot sales and pubs
sdgaffney
July 28, 2011
@michael_french @milessi forgot the smiley there 🙂
sdgaffney
July 28, 2011
Plus, my annoyance with dumb corporations trying to argue with the internet isn’t helped by the fact MPA is really just MPAA.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French whilst I don’t know if this is fact, I expect this will be the first of very many cases. With many taken out, it’ll help.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi And my concern is that it’s futile – sites will keep cropping up.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French Do you have locks on your doors & windows? Or do you think that if you’re going to get broken into, it’ll happen anyway?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi Haha, oh, you know that’s not comparable.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French isn’t it? You are protecting your assets. The film studios are looking for ways to protect theirs.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi Bits versus atoms, Miles, bits versus atoms
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell little difference, Nicholas, little difference. It’s still someone’s property and livelihood.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell in the same way as if I paid you to do some research for me & then put said research online for all, you’d have an issue.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi Newzbin2 isn’t a lock/key, if we continue the metaphor, it’s the phone book or a map.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French disagree. It is the key to the lock, and they even they bung you the phone book too, and the entry in the phone book.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi @michael_french I don’t think anyone is taking issue w/ revenue protection as a concept, just that it’s dngrsly close to censorship
sdgaffney
July 28, 2011
@milessi I think you can have an issue with piracy without thinking that convicting or blocking is the way to go around it. it won’t work.
edfear
July 28, 2011
@sdgaffney but the internet is already censored for other illegal things.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@edfear what will work then, Ed? Or is “having an issue” with it but not doing anything about it acceptable to you?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi more acceptable than what has been done today? absolutely. I’d rather focus on how to harness their interest in a way that benefits
edfear
July 28, 2011
@milessi I think it has all the difference in the world. That’s why so much of my research is bespoke, client-centric consultancy
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@milessi Much of my generic, applicable to all, research I give away on the blog
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@milessi I also think that, long term, you can’t win in the bits world with atoms strategies – smart companies will out-offer you
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@milessi The “you” there was really “one”, but I didn’t want to sound like Prince Charles
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@milessi agreed, but by taking the site itself down, not by instructing ISPs to block. Neutrality of ISPs should be protected as free speech
sdgaffney
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @sdgaffney is the comments section back up and unmoderated yet, or is your employer still censoring the Internet 😉
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi @sdgaffney Er, it’s back.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @sdgaffney unmoderated? And do you allow cheat tools, Steve?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi A weak misdirection. It’s a very different point
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@sdgaffney don’t disagree but taking down sites outside of jurisdiction is the problem if people inside the jurisdiction can access
milessi
July 28, 2011
@edfear that’s marketing speak Ed – examples of how to fix the problem Hollywood have are what, exactly?
milessi
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell not unless they have the content they won’t. Content is King.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi @nicholaslovell now *that’s* marketing speak.
Michael_French
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @milessi I’ve never believed content is king. I believe Distribution is. And content that doesn’t adapt to how people …
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @milessi … to how users want to pay for it (i.e. 95% get it for free, 5% get something special, emotional, status)…
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @milessi … will not be content that survives
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @sdgaffney for the record, I’m NOT saying I agree with what has happened today, but can’t see other ways.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @sdgaffney but think the “censorship” argument is fatally flawed.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi @Michael_French @sdgaffney Bill Thompson writes well on the censorship issue (he broadly supports the ruling) http://bbc.in/oULsos
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@milessi @michael_french ultimately, this is a business problem – how do you protect revenue, without needing gov to infringe free speech?
sdgaffney
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell I disagree. It’s a very valid point in the debate as content costs to produce however it’s delivered
milessi
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell @michael_french @milessi if content isn’t important, why do you sell digital copies of your book for £99?
FreakyZoid
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell @michael_french @milessi shouldn’t you be giving it away?
FreakyZoid
July 28, 2011
@milessi I’m not surprised you disagree. But I subscribe to the theory that prices will fall to the *marginal* cost of production
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@milessi For a digital product, the marginal cost of one more copy is zero. So we will eventually see prices moving to zero
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@FreakyZoid @michael_french @milessi The model only holds when users are driven to purchase for emotional, status, personal reasons
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@FreakyZoid @michael_french @milessi It’s something I wrestle with. Current conclusion: B2B advice is premium content, not driven by status
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@FreakyZoid @michael_french @milessi I’m always trying to think of different ways to test that, though. I’m not fixed
nicholaslovell
July 28, 2011
@Michael_French @sdgaffney how is it not the same? Censorship is censorship. In both cases the censorship is to uphold the law.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell @michael_french if there’s no content, Nicholas, there will be no films to distribute.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@nicholaslovell @michael_french @milessi can I dive in? I think the worry with the movie industry is they think shutting websites is the key
stuartdredge
July 28, 2011
@stuartdredge @michael_french t’s a fair concern, but don’t see that in the current marketplace as a member of multiple on-demand services
milessi
July 28, 2011
@stuartdredge @michael_french apple tv, sky, qrocity all have similar, but large, catalogues day & date with DVD or earlier
milessi
July 28, 2011
@stuartdredge @michael_french prices are very good too – way cheaper than cinema and similar to blockbuster et al.
milessi
July 28, 2011
@milessi @michael_french but yes, agree. I just sense Hollywood is where music biz was 5yrs ago in terms of ‘sue/shutdown’ being priority
stuartdredge
July 28, 2011
@milessi @michael_french with the studios figuring out how to squeeze more money out next time round when licensing (also: Spotify) 😉
stuartdredge
July 28, 2011
@milessi @michael_french i think games industry is ahead of Hollywood though, in terms of balancing piracy-fighting with biz innovation
stuartdredge
July 28, 2011
@stuartdredge @michael_french whereas I think they want to protect their distribution models so that they can still produce quality content
milessi
July 28, 2011
@stuartdredge @michael_french much in the same way that many retailers insist on some form of copy protection for games historically
milessi
July 28, 2011

 

About Zoya Street

I’m responsible for all written content on the site. As a freelance journalist and historian, I write widely on how game design and development have changed in the past, how they will change in the future, and how that relates to society and culture as a whole. I’m working on a crowdfunded book about the Dreamcast, in which I treat three of the game-worlds it hosted as historical places. I also write at Pocketgamer.biz and The Borderhouse.