That was the theme of this year’s World Copyright Summit that happened this past week in Brussels. Indeed, I am the Fool cannot claim familiarity within these circles, but I can’t contain myself from poking fun at one of the speakers. Victoria A. Espinel, who reports to President Obama as the US Copyright Czar, made a speech that addressed the question: “Can cloud-based entertainment services help eradicate digital piracy?” It’s a very provocative question indeed. But, her follow up interview lacked any inspirational punch.
Keeping in mind I’m jaded and would like to disregard the “Respect” part of the Summit, I pretend below to join the interview with the NY Times and the US Copyright Czar:
NY Times: Do you see cloud services as primarily being legal alternatives to illegal file-sharing networks, or do they present other problems of copyright?
Czar: I hear it asserted that the cloud is going to cause huge increases in piracy; I’ve also heard that the cloud will be the savior. My own view is that the cloud is neutral. It’s not inherently predisposed to be legal or illegal….But you can build a cloud-based service that’s illegal, and you can build a cloud-based service that is legal.
Fool (to Czar): Who talks like that? That’s really not an answer in my book.
Fool (to NY Times) That’s a stupid question. I don’t think cloud services will impact piracy one single bit. Piracy is never going to go away because people like free stuff that gives them value. The cloud services are merely places to hold your stuff and then easily access it from your many devices.
NY Times. Are there particular concerns about copyright or privacy that come up in regard to cloud computing?
Czar: Generally it seems to me that the issues coming up are variations of issues that have already come up with the advent of the Internet. The cloud can intensify or accelerate the pace at which we as a government need to address those issues, and which the marketplace needs to address those issues.
Fool (to Czar): Shouldn’t they call you Czarina? Or is a Czar also like a Queen? Anyways, you use lots of words but actually communicate zip.
Fool (to NY Times): That’s a mildly better question. I am an optimist sometimes, and actually see opportunity where others see concerns. For example, cloud services like iCloud help labels recover some of the dough they’ve lost over the years. By providing amnesty to pirates, they may just use cloud services to store their stuff and pay annual fees to keep it there. These fees will be split up with the majority going to the labels. So finally, labels now can recuperate a tiny bit of what they’ve lost to piracy.
NY Times: As you said, so much of the infringement happens beyond U.S. borders. How are you able to deal with foreign jurisdictions, and what kind of success have we been having in pursuing criminal activity in other countries?
Czar: It’s a big challenge. I would note three things. First, we in United States have a good and strong legal system, although we do think we can make improvements, and we sent recommendations to Congress for improvements….Second, even in countries where there are strong legal systems we need to have better and increased law enforcement by those countries. The last thing is that we need to protect our own citizens as much as we can.
Fool (to Czar): Nice structured response, but I kind of stopped listening when you said “I would note…”
Fool (NY Times): That’s a really good question and damned if I know the answer to either. Short of having an Internet United Nations that sets and enforces laws, there will always be rogue nations who have more important things to think about (like clean water, corruption or how to secure the next Olympics bid). With regards to your question about the success in pursuing criminal activity, I’d say close to zero. Seize one website and a mirror immediately pops up.
Fool from NY Times: What day is it today?
Pretend Czar: Today is before tomorrow and after yesterday. I would note that it isn’t really today everywhere because right now is tomorrow as well as yesterday in other places.
Fool (to Czar): What are you talking about?
Fool (to NY Times): It’s Thursday, all day.