Saturday, August 8, 2009

Broken Service. Can HCI save everyone?

As we wrapped up service design course, I thought I would ask others about this issue. Digital Copyrights has been and will be one mess experience for both content owner and users. No technology so far seemed to work well between content provider and customers

Many industries, particular music and movie have been out of control with how they deal with copyright infringement. General public are fed up but the industries are not responding what customer wants. RIAA is actively going after individuals who violated copyright. The recent case of a grad student from Boston who was ordered to pay over $22,000 per song (total of 30 songs) shows how broken the system is.

AP thought they deserve to get paid every word they publish. So they implemented iCopyright to charge # of words, starting $12.50 per word. Also AP got Copyright Bounty Hunter to go after those who violated the copyright. Guess, how this AP copyright ended up working? James Grimmelmann, associate professor at NY Law School, submitted an expert from Thomas Jefferson’s letter, not written by AP. Of course, AP said he owes $12.

I understand you want to get paid for what you create. But the overall service is broken. The experience of service is not pleasant to both creator and users. Smaller music service sites are trying different models to accommodate both musicians and users. Are there any ways to design workable and realistic service for this kind of issues?


  1. Copyright abusers (i.e. capitalist content owners) and digital technologies are fundamentally at odds because of the ease with which technology allows digital works to be transformed. And it's not just digital music.

    Consider the spat earlier this year between Amazon and the Authors Guild about text-to-speech in Kindle 2.0. The Guild's statement states that "E-books do not come bundled with audio rights." Which makes me wonder - what does come with audio rights? Because my version of Adobe Acrobat Reader has a text-to-speech option that I can use with just about anything, including several e-book PDFs I have purchased. Am I breaking the law? Or what if a father reads a Kindle bedtime story to his daughter. Of course, the Guild is really just trying to preserve the lucrative audio book market.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, a growing number of artists are actively granting rights to their works. Consider the latest album from Nine Inch Nails, Ghosts I-IV, which is licensed under a
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. Despite—or perhaps because of—the open license and the free availability of Ghosts I, the album was Amazon's top MP3 ablum of 2008. Clearly DRM isn't a prerequisite for music sales.

    And finally, I have to give a nod to Jonathan Coulton, a geek-turned-musician who licenses all his original work as Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial, encouraging all manner of remixes and music videos that have only increased his popularity. His downloads page even has an "Already Stole It?" subheading that suggests you donate or compensate him in some other way (if you feel he deserves it, of course). It's an honest approach to music that has worked out well enough that he quit his day job. If you're unfamiliar, check out Code Monkey and his cover of Baby Got Back.

  2. Particularly in music industry, artist signed their life away if they want to be a large group like U2 or Coldplay. Then there comes Napster to change the music industry forever. The digital rights are hard say what. Users wants music for free and the artist has to know what they can/can't do to make living.

    Trent Reznor (is NIN) has been trying out different model after he left Interscope after many years of unhappy business practice of record company. As you mentioned, He set various price models for selling his album, Ghosts I-IV (some were unlimited versions that sold out in 72 hours). So as other bands tried various methods to sell or get your name out there. But what do you do if you are not band who are trying to make it.

    Trent posted on his forum what to do as a new/unknown artist. He listed a number of services out there for musicians. It's good to see public gets to choose what they want to listen or by recommendation of peers. Not what the big company wants you to listen.

    I wonder how indy films will be distributed... Musicians can't make money by selling album, but album gets people to listen so that they come to shows.


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