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Archive for March, 2009

The March of Copyright

March 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Nowadays, I feel less inclined to explore symptoms but rather prefer to focus on dealing with what I regard as the key causes of the problems with creative industries and digital content. In case it is not obvious, I am talking about Copyright, and the urgent need to evolve the damn thing, as a major culprit.

In the medical profession, a common approach to treating sick people involves:

  • an examination of the medical history and immediate symptoms (plus medical tests / consultation with other experts as necessary)
  • initial diagnosis based on the facts (and level of expertise / experience with similar cases)
  • a prescription or recommendation for the best possible treatment (may not always be the cheapest)
  • follow up and, if necessary, repeat the above steps until the patient is finally cured

Unfortunately, in this case, the patient is the creative industry, and the symptoms include a constant diarrhoea-like stream of headlines, lawsuits, and various half-baked initiatives; the diagnosis is a multi-vector attack of huge transformational forces that demand fundamental change in the way we do business; and finally, to my mind, the treatment would involve making far-reaching and painful changes to existing culture (and how we value and perceive creative works), as well as a major re-working of the global copyright system.

Thankfully, some initiatives and forthcoming events appear well placed to help move us forward in this direction, mainly by kick-starting the necessary dialogues / processes to evolve copyright into a more effective instrument and universal framework for the emerging digital world. A couple of these event include:

1. The World Copyright Summit – This is a packed two-day conference that will debate and explore the opportunities and challenges facing creative industries, and all content creators, in this transitional phase of the digital revolution (More info on the website at: http://www.copyrightsummit.com/). Judging from the excellent speaker line-up, and the four streams in the conference agenda, this should be an excellent event that draws input from all key stakeholders, and which will hopefully map out a clearer vision on how they can engage better with each other in order to realise the huge potentials of a hyper-connected world (i.e. where the rules must evolve rapidly to match the immense changes brought about by digital technology). In my opinion, this is one to attend if you can make it, and I shall try my best to cover this event as it happens.

2. UK Copyright Consultation – This UK initiative (previously mentioned here) is still ongoing, and has so far elicited over 120 responses, (as well as various workshops and consumer discussions), according to aprogress letter from the CEO of UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). You can still make your voices heard by responding with comments directly to the UK Intellectual Property Office via their website. Furthermore, an independent Strategic Advisory Body for IP (SABIP) has also published a paper on the strategic priorities for copyright.

In conclusion, just like the current G20 Summit, these events are aimed precisely at finding a way to get us out of the mess in which we currently find ourselves, be it the global economic recession or the sickly content industry business models. I also believe that these think / talk fests are a great way to pull together the right input from key stakeholders; but they are only ever likely to realise true value if the outcomes lead to clear and measurable actions that help guide the next crucial steps in the evolution of copyright, (or indeed the world economy), into a universal framework that will better support the ongoing global cultural evolution.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

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Crunch IT – The Role of IT in a Recession

March 30, 2009 Leave a comment

This was the title of an event that I helped organize for my British Computer Society (BCS) branch last week in Central London, and which, as perhaps might be expected given the current economic climate, generated a fair amount of interest and suggestions from the excellent speakers and a highly vocal audience (see event flyer). However, it also left me wondering if there really was much that IT could do, on its own, to bring about any sort of lasting change to the current economic situation; especially in light of the fact that IT was not directly responsible for the recession in the first place (Ok, IT may have played a role in the dot com bubble / crash, but the Financial Services industry is probably the main culprit this time around -not pointing any fingers).

Anyway, this event covered, among other things, the following points and perspectives from the speakers:

  • Crunch Insulators – Kenny MacIver, Editor of Information Age, gave an overview of some of the more effective strategies in the IT industry e.g.: Unified IP Network Architectures, Virtualisation (Servers and Storage), and Remote / Mobile Working. Key Message – Simple cost cutting without innovation will not, *ahem*, cut it in this recession
  • IT Governance – Sue Milton, Vice President of ISACA, pointed out that short term savings (e.g IT cost cutting and staff redundancies) may not be in the long term interests of most organizations. Key message – valuable and highly-skilled staff lost to cost cutting will be in demand again at the first sign of a recovery
  • Risk Assurance – Graeme Fleming, Senior Manager at PWC, focused on the IT Risk Landscape, and greater dependence on the efficient use of IT, particularly in a downturn. Key Message – focus on projects (rationalisation), Information Security Risk and better controls for Outsourcing
  • China’s Opening – Ting Zhang and Dr. Paul Irwin Crookes, from China Business Solutions, discussed the major opportunities and challenges posed by China to the global software industry. Key Message – you’ll need an effective strategy to engage with a resurgent Chinese market, and it’s renewed focus / investment in technology and innovation.

For me, the overall message was that there is no real indication of if / when we might expect to see an end to this current recession, therefore IT and related industries must learn to adapt and cope with an increasingly challenging landscape, whilst delivering critical benefits to their internal and external clients. It makes me wonder if a protracted global recession will also bring about a fundamental change in the engagement models used by existing (or surviving) technology advisory and consulting organizations. For example, are we likely to see an increase in joint ventures, and risk-reward-partnerships, between advisors and client, as opposed to the relatively more straightforward fees-on-delivery type models that currently dominate our business?

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog.  You can see the original post, including comments, at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/03/crunch_it_the_role_of_it_in_a.php

iPhone OS 3.0 Unveiled…

March 18, 2009 Leave a comment

…despite the recession, and along with the usual fanfare of a demo / presentation that set alight the whole infosphere, (i.e. blogosphere / twittersphere / and-all-other-web2.0-spheres). However, the one thing that sticks out the most for me is the fact that I will soon be able to “Cut, Copy and Paste” stuff on my iPhone, (which really should have been a standard feature from the outset), so what’s with all the hoopla?

For one thing, Apple sure knows how to push out the (new) media envelope, by inviting journos, bloggers and twitterazzi of all shapes and sizes to cover the event live on the net (e.g. see Wired’s Liveblog coverage). PS. I also learnt a new word on Twitter as this event topped the list of Trending topics for most of yesterday (Fyi. “Trending” gives an indication of the most twittered topics). As our US colleagues might say, go figure.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, numbers really do say it all. For example: Apple has sold circa 30 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices since launch. Also there are some Fifty Thousand developers signed up to the official iPhone developer program, with over 800,000 downloads of the iPhone SDK so far.

Finally, iPhone OS 3.0 promises to deliver a lot of eagerly anticipated features which include, but are not limited to:

1. Usability Features – e.g. Cut Copy and Paste and landscape editing mode for key apps
2. Extended App Support – with over 1000 new APIs that will truly extend the capabilities of future apps
3. Myriad other features – including Push notification, Search, MMS support, Stereo Bluetooth Access, to name a few.

In conclusion, it promises to be a bumper crop of new features for the iPhone / iPod touch brigade this summer, and the extended API support may also see the beginning of more serious forays into the enterprise market; but perhaps the most important thing is that at I will soon be able to “Cut, Copy and Paste” stuff on my iPhone, (like so). I say, bring on the summer!

 

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog.  You can see the original post, including comments, at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/03/iphone_os_30_unveiled.php

Categories: Capgemini, Mobile Technology Tags: ,

Google, YouTube – Facing the Music

March 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Ok, no one is immune to the current harsh economic realities; not even the mighty Google. A couple of recent headlines indicate the typical response pattern of revenue and cost control measures, but where will it end?

According to an article in yesterday’s Financial Times, (see online version here), Google plans to start targeting ads to search users, based on their browsing patterns and habits. This should be a win-win situation for advertisers and end-users. However privacy advocates are concerned about the implications to personal privacy. For one thing, this is not an opt-in scheme therefore users will have to explicitly request removal, also there is the danger that the browsing information so gathered might get used in ways not originally intended.

Also, earlier this week, Google’s YouTube started blocking some video content in the UK. According to an article on PaidContent, this was due to a breakdown in their music licence renewal negotiations with major UK rights society, PRS for Music. The main bone of contention, as ever, was over money: YouTube thinks the licence fees are too high, PRS for Music think otherwise. As a result:

  • Some videos get blocked in the UK (and UK users miss out on their favourite YouTube videos)
  • Cue the usual headlines, sound-bites, and blog chatter (…ok, guilty as charged)
  • Finally, something happens (e.g. law suites), and the dispute is resolved (or not).

But really, who cares? It’s all become so predictable and boring; this never-ending conflict over costs, control and a Darwinian game of one-upmanship, at the expense of the content creator and the consumer.

In other unrelated matters, last week, I gave a talk to a joint BCS / IET / ACM audience about Digital Piracy, Privacy and the Content Economy in Cambridge University’s William Gates Lecture theatre (a great venue). I got a few questions about the potential for using content control mechanisms to support things like: micro-transactions / usage tracking / audit and reconciliation. My answer was that these could also be used in combination with other measures to enable provision of: open, non-intrusive and measurable access to content for users anywhere, anytime and on any device. But that would be far too easy, and too good to be true, now won’t it?

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.