The Massive Stakes for Your Privacy in the Teksavvy Vs Voltage Case
I raised a lot of eyebrows on my last post regarding the Teksavvy vs. Voltage case, so I’d thought I’d follow up with this post. Questions on why I’m so passionate about privacy and copyright should be pretty much answered after this post, and why I’ve chosen to speak out on both of those issues.
Consumers sense of insecurity can have a lot more negative consequences on a much broader scale than just copyright allegations. Right or wrong, if you do any business in Canada you know that Canadian consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is with the company they do business with, and also contracted as such in most cases.
Privacy, not just for the economy as a whole, but for business is a confidence issue. As soon as consumers do not feel secure, is when consumer confidence levels start to decline.
ISPs are the gateway to the digital economy. If we can’t trust the gateways, that can have negative economic consequences down the road and across the digital economy considering where we are headed in the next few years. Michael Geist has an excellent post what he thinks should be the priorities surrounding the digital economy within law. Privacy legislation is priority number two.
Why is all of this so important to me? Well to answer this we need to look towards the next few years before a more personal explanation. In the next few years the media and software industries for the most part will be moving towards cloud based solutions. We have technology that’s been developed where we will not need hard drives anymore. Our smartphones will basically be the width of a piece of paper soon, and eventually you will be able to fold these up into your pocket. Sharing, downloading, viewing and listening will all be done, and trackable on the cloud. We are emerging into Web 3.0 where content will find you, rather than you finding the content.
What you do online will be sought after by basically anyone that has interest in what you are doing online for advertising, however this information could serve other uses as well. There are several concerns obviously on consumer and business privacy and security of online data through all of this. It’s also concerning how copyright is currently being used, which may actually serve to inhibit market adaptivity to an enviable outcome.
There will be in 2013 a global re-thinking of the way copyright is being implemented. It’s already started. There’s a good understanding of not just the economic side to downloading now, but why online P2P downloading occurs. If it was just about getting “free” stuff, than Itunes, Netflix wouldn’t exist. The reason P2P downloading occurs for the most part is that there is a market need that’s not being met by incumbents, and they are too busy warring it out with consumers rather than meeting that market need. The reason I’ve come to terms with why they do this, is because incumbents want to ensure their marketshare. They don’t want to compete, it’s about control. It’s a very simple answer to a complex issue like copyright, but in my experience, very true.
The economic arguments about how much jobs and money is lost around “illegal downloading” are becoming quite absurd, and desperate. So much so that it starts to become comical. Fortunately we have some really good people following the numbers, myself included and more and more law makers now are starting to clue in on just how ridiculous some of these arguments have become.
There’s a popular and funny talk author Rob Reid did at this past years T.E.D. convention. Reid who is Harvard educated and studied copyright for a book he wanted to write about the subject. It was a learning process from him, but he saw (just as I have on a learning quest on copyright) that there are extremely absurd economic arguments coming from the media industry. So much so that in a recent T.E.D. conference he poked fun at the arguments industry is making:
Reid and I have a few things in common. We’re both media innovators, and we’ve both seen how hard it is to innovate in large part because of the war on digital content distribution models.
Back a few years ago I was 2 inches away from launching my own record label. I had done the economic research (a lot of it was to also understand how copyright would work digitally) for my business plan and market analysis. I also had experience in dealing with online copyright through managing online radio, and in most cases dealing with the labels directly when it came to music. I was also a DJ with an online and aired radio show. I would consider myself to be an industry DJ. I was being pool directly by labels. Most of them in the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) sector were indie. I was planning on joining that business model. My experience and what I saw came up during my copyright consultation submission viewable here. I was in the middle of writing that business plan in the middle of the copyright consultations.
After I saw what enviable direction we were going on copyright, I decided not to pursue a career representing talent. Governments ideology around copyright did not deal with what I would consider essential reforms to protect businesses and consumers on the misuse of law and frivolous copyright accusations.In fact they added to that insecurity with the provisions around digital locks, which is a really big hit on innovation within the digital marketplace.
One business example I would like to point out on how copyright is being misued is with the Megaupload take down. Here is a service in which the music industry itself used. A popular service that was used legally by independent labels and artists to service industry people and DJ’s like myself. The big labels even used it, even promoted the site:
When mega upload was taken down, I didn’t see this as a copyright piracy thing, I saw this as a move by the incumbent media companies trying to destroy a distribution model independents relied on. Essentially copyright in the music industry is often misused to undermine competition. The owner of megauploads house was raided, assets seized, and for what? Because he chose to innovate on providing cloud storage? I certainly do not want to innovate in an environment like that. Note to readers, DMCA notices have been filed by Universal Music Group on the above ad, which according to the uploader was taken down by youtube on the first upload attempt. I wonder why that would be?
There’s another interview Reid did with Leo LaPorte on the TED talk and his new book. The interview I found very fascinating and very correct when trying to innovate around the media industry to basically create a new one that is more profitable for everyone, and how hard the incumbents are making it for innovators to move forward with new services around media. Reid explains the difficulties of those trying to innovate in this current culture of copyright protectionism very well. The entire interview is 45 minutes long, but packed with some really good problems and issues innovators face in the content and copyright industries. What’s even more fascinating is the reaction he got after his TED video. He talks about the TED video around the 41: 25 mark in the embedded video:
House Republicans in the US submitted a report on how restrictive copyright is on innovators, only to be retracted the next day. Canada’s own award winning author and tech journalist Peter Nowak even chimed in on the debate with two separate posts on the possible future copyright may take. The US and EU in recent weeks are starting to lessen the grip around copyright on consumer uses. I think we’re starting to see a fundamental shift in the discussion away from the media industry incumbents propaganda, and shifting towards a more evidence and economically sound system. What that copyright system will look like is anyone’s guess at this point, but there seems to be a greater understanding on the fact that copyright as it exists today, is not friendly at all to innovators and consumers.
Innovators and consumers are the driving force of industry, not copyright nor incumbents. Privacy and security is what gives confidence to new markets, not lawsuits, or trolls. It’s time for the Canadian government to draw up legislation that clearly defines Canadians privacy expectation within law with heavy penalties on the private sector, and remove penalties on consumers with respect to law that is being often misused.