Tom Ricks Tells Us What He Thinks
links for 2009-06-24

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt, Loathing, and Copyright

Tyler Cowen says that he is "pro-copyright... but... the default settings make it too hard for successful negotiations to occur..."

I wonder: doesn't that also mean that he is "anti-copyright, but the default settings don't provide enough rewards to creative authorship..."?

How would one tell the difference between the qualified pro-copyright and the qualified anti-copyright positions?

Marginal Revolution: Kindle and DRM and Netflix too: As a reader, I find it good policy to keep the number of books on my Kindle to below twenty.  That forces me to read the ones I order and it also protects me from "stranded" consumer durables.  Uncertainty and confusion about my rights only strengthens my desire to keep that policy. 

As a writer, I expect the Kindle is temporarily in my financial self-interest, as it gets more "influentials" reading my work and perhaps talking it up.  In the longer run I suspect it means a lower equilibrium price for books.  One question is whether publishers use "sticky" or inconvenient DRM practices as an implicit collusive method for limiting the spread of Kindle.

Today I was struck by this passage about the origins of Netflix:

Netflix's selection of more than 100,000 DVD rental titles is made possible by the "first-sale doctrine" of U.S. copyright law, which permits buyers of DVDs to lend them out without studios' consent.

In Netflix's early days, its buying team would sometimes purchase DVDs at local Wal-Marts or Best Buys if it couldn't get copies through studios, says Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer.

In contrast, to deliver movies and television shows over the Internet, Netflix has to license them from studios. So far, it has gotten only about 12,000 titles, a hodgepodge of older films such as "Diehard," episodes of popular TV shows including "30 Rock" and a smattering of new releases.

That's right, we had more innovation because some of the usual copyright strictures about negotiating rights did not apply.  I am pro-copyright, but once again the default settings make it too hard for successful negotiations to occur.

Me? I'm putting my trust in Google as semi-benevolent kami. Google Books is rolling forward. Google Movies and Google Music are YouTube in disguise. When the titanic battle between them and iTunes takes place, it will shake the universe.