Thursday, 10 November 2016

China's control of IP

In China, the element of control is legendary. Now we know that strict regulation is certainly an enemy of technological progress. But tech giants are more likely to be worried about the requirement to open up their data to the authorities in China.

There are fears that China’s new cybersecurity rules may block western innovation. To quote the MIT Technology Review, "The rules, announced Monday, will provide central Chinese authorities with greater powers over the monitoring of data and hardware. Notably, the laws will open companies up to far greater scrutiny from the government, demanding that Internet firms coƶperate with the state’s criminal investigations and provide full access to data if officials suspect them of wrongdoing."

We have seen since Stalinist times that the authorities can ride in on a whim. Without even a suspicion of wrongdoing when they simply wish to monitor and find problems.

We already know that in China it is difficult to protect IP, so music, film, books and other creative works are pirated and made freely available. However when the 'West' finds out information about Chinese citizens the authorities wish to know about it.

After the election of Trump in the US it is possible that the American Dream of the last century will be changed, and possibly loose its allure and excitement. At the same time, we may find that moves like this lead to the faster rise of Asia as a controlling power in the world.

Read more:

Monday, 24 October 2016

Film, IP, China. Controlling perceptions of a country.

Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate that is emerging — controversially — as a superpower in the entertainment business is eloquent about who the Chinese company bought  AMC Theaters and Legendary Entertainment.

"But what about concerns that Wanda is moving aggressively in Hollywood as part of a move by the Communist Party to control the portrayal of China on screen?"

They have established a major incentive program to lure movie and TV production to the 408-acre Qingdao Movie Metropolis. This involved a 40% rebate on production expenditures.

The incentives plan was to be announced by Mr. Wang; Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles; Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and Jack Gao, the head of Wanda’s Cultural Industry Group.

So the world is changing as IP and creativity is controlled by new interests, new entrants, new countries, new types of people, new perspectives. It was ever thus. New people taking control in the same ways as before, but with contemporary scale.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Knowledge Graphs - semantic indexing

Google became famous for Knowledge Graphs over recent years, bringing together all tine information on the public internet about people, places, ideas and so on.

This is actually semantic indexing. It has been around for a long time. It is rather useful because 'machines' can assemble relevant information, and give a human reader insights they did not notice before. Those machines start to seem rather 'clever' when really they are simply processing enormous amounts of information in a structured manner.

We have Knowledge Graphs of Musicians, Artists, performers, composers and so on. Look at this huge range from Orlando Gibbons to Adele:

Orlando Gibbons


David Bowie

Bob Dylan

So enjoy the thrill of finding relationships between Artists who worked together. It gets better and better as our project with a computer science department at a major university extends its findings.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Publishers need to please those who pay the bills

Advertising has paid for the costs and profits of advertisers for many centuries. In the Eighteenth Century the rags and pamphlets in London, Berlin, Moscow, Paris and Rome frequently had advertiser messages.

Nothing new in the electronic world. Well, it is different because electronic publishing allows us to count how many people see it, and estimate how many people read the ad, and measure how many people tap on the ad.

So who pays the most? Large corporations. It was ever thus.

Except sometimes a statistical outlier will raise the money to put their message in the publication. But usually it is the large corporations. How does this affect reporting? Even pop starts use their music to advertise products which would have been unthinkable in the 1970s. They would never have done it then, but because their recordings are now electronic and easily 'shared' with the world, needs to generate revenue have resulted in a different perspective on advertising. Pride in dealing with the big sponsors.

Control by the moneyed class. It was ever thus. So some bemoan the fact that Brexit Britain will be funded by China, and become a puppet state of China. Well, er... not that but it may become rather beholden to China in some unexpected ways. As China's outpost in Europe, paying the bills, China may call some shots.

This will arrect IP as well. We can expect that Film and TV may well be a commercial casualty, unable to charge consumers in China in the way the copyright owners expected. Food for thought.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

We are all librarians now, filtering our swim through electronic information

Librarians have been the gatekeepers of information for their patrons for many centuries. They would make decisions on books for purchase, know where additional books could be accessed, know where journal articles were stored, know which bibliographic information would benefit a particular researcher.

Now each researcher, each scholar, has a world, a planet, seemingly a universe of information at their 'electronic fingertips'. Most people do not hesitate in impulsively saying, 'I know how to answer that' and launch on a search, and on reflection realise they need the assistance of a librarian to direct them towards relevant resources.

How many librarians regret the manner in which library patrons do not seek their advice. So the patrons go on long winded searchers? Could their research have been  speeded up, or at least focused? Probably.

Then a question arises about the value of information when it is electronic.

How do we inform library patrons that content, data, information, databases are paid for and not just available like an Internet search?
- Some companies will not license their books for electronic editions. They fear that electronic means automatic piracy.
- Some companies will not license data for academic research. They fear it will be copied and made available to university colleagues at other institutions.
- Some distributors of electronic databases worry deeply that the 'data' will be 'out there' and the value of the database will fall.
- Focus is on contemporary data.
- How quickly does information go into the public domain, when copyright holders would prefer to keep it copyright during the duration of their ownership of the information?

The whole concept of Public Domain is changing. An art museum can no longer stop tourists making photos of each painting on its walls. Will licensed academic information become 'Public Domain' in the same way? Simply because it is so easy to do? Simply because students do not perceive licensed information as any different to the free internet?

Already mighty upheavals are underway.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Where is the money in IP?

Where is the money in IP? Advertising plays a key role.

For centuries newspapers have had ads. In Abraham Lincoln’s day, during the American civil war, newspapers were just a few cents and were read by people at all levels of society. Couriers on horseback would carry speeches from the East Coast to the West Coast within days of Lincoln and his Team of Rivals presenting the speech to packed houses in the midst of political turmoil.

Everyone could know what was going on. The speeches lasted hours. The full text was published by many local newspapers throughout the land. Ubiquitous. Dinner conversations and breakfast dialogues focused on points in the speeches.

Today it is electronic. The newspaper publishers do not have a way of restricting readership to paid editions. Their texts are 'everywhere' on their own websites, and re-published 'everywhere'. So where does the money come from?

We have seen the Guardian in the UK expand into the USA with it's particular brand of publishing. This is to drive advertising. In addition, they are asking readers to please pay something towards their costs with popup links asking readers to pay £49 for the pleasure of reading.

So it is an echo of the business model in Abe Lincoln's day. It is the advertising that counts, not the paying public.

But there are strains. Will readers fund the operation out of the goodness of their hearts? At what point is a paywall constructed?

Guardian asking readers to donate money to continue its 'intelligent journalism'

In a piece revealing the London-based Guardian had 17 million hits to its website as the Brexit vote was counted last Friday, Ms Viner (Editor) urges readers to sign up as "supporters" paying £5 per month or to make a one off donation. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

How can creative people make money in the electronic world? I asked Eric Schmidt of Google in July 2016

How must copyright holders make money? I asked Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet/Google.

The Electronic world has changed all that controlled selling of creative content. I asked Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet/Google how creative people can be rewarded and compensated when search is so precise it will find a version of creative content available for free, somewhere out there.

He answered as you can hear here. Listen to minutes 6-9.

Eric Schmidt says in July 2016 at the Google Campus in London, with sincerity, that they struggled with this. 95% of the revenue comes from branding, merchandising, endorsements and so on. Revenue comes from adjacent activities. What seems to have happened is that you are able to monetise fame. The product remained very popular when ‘ubiqutous’ and available electronicall, but you made your money in a different way. Writers are making more money than they did 20 years ago because of higher speaking fees, endorsements and so on. ‘We looked at this, and in aggregate the size of the total market place for the type of content you are talking about has grown significantly in terms of total dollars. But your strategy to make money has been forced to change. The model changed from monetising your creative output directly to one as you say, in an adjascent way.’

This means that owners of copyright, the authors, musicians, journalists, teachers and the publishing companies need to accept that their creative work will be electronically available. They must therefore find ways to make money in adjacent ways. Musicians play more concerts, where they can control the rarity value and keep ticket prices high. Authors can go on speaking tours or endorse products. We see commercial relationships which artists of the 1970s would have frowned on as selling out! How the world changes. It changes in so many ways as owners of IP find new ways to do the same old thing: follow the money.

Copyright in the electronic world

In the past copyright was protected on a physical object. For hundreds of years books and newspapers were physical objects.
Way back in the 1990s copyright material was sold on physical objects, and it was relatively straightforward to manufacture, distribute, manage the supply and set the price. Whether records, pictures, books, articles, the creative ‘content’ was captured on paper, vinyl, CDs, DVDs and sold in a controlled market.

Yes, there was piracy, which in the music business was considered to be about 10% of worldwide sales in 1999 when large scale online piracy began with Napster.

When all consumers of IP and copyrighted material have an electronic device they have a manufacturing plant which takes the place of the printing presses, the record manufacturers, the movie cinemas, the TV broadcasters and cable/satellite companies. Each consumer is a hyper manufacturer of potentiallly copyrighted material. They are encouraged to be creative, and share (facebook, twitter, linkedin and more).

So the result is that the creative content, the IP, is ubiquitous. It is everywhere. The artists must survive. Somehow. That has been the struggle of the last twenty years. Read on for ways in which the challenge was addressed.