Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Proposal from Chile

Chile has submitted a proposal to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with two very important and challenging suggestions:

1) WIPO should protect the public domain, and should focus on protecting knowledge, rather than private intellectual property rights.

2) WIPO should do a study that would look at the ideal level of intellectual property protection country-by-country. The study would look particularly at each country's level of development, and the economic and social effects of IP in each country's situation. It might suggest limitations to or exceptions from intellectual property protection if that was seen to be more advantageous to the country's development.

In the past, WIPO has been more focused on expanding intellectual property rights rather than limiting them. In WIPO's view, the way to protect knowledge was to encourage its publication and commercialization by granting intellectual property rights. To an extent, to protect private intelectual property rights wasto protect knowledge.

The problem is that, now, most IP rights are owned by the US, and much of the unprotected knowledge floating around in the public domain for free use by anyone - especially in developing countries - is at risk of being snatched up by this expanding rights regime and by Americans who want to claim and commercialize it. Plus, new technologies have brought new ways of thinking about the dissemination of knowledge - publication and commercialization is no longer seen as the primary way of protecting knowledge. Sometimes IP-rights lock up knowledge. Knowledge in the public domian is often much more accessible than it once was, thanks to technology and communications.

A country-by-country study could look at the social benefits of having knowledge available in the public domain and at the use of that knowledge in a country's own development - and at the effects of having that knowledge commercialized by private owners. With both sides being considered, the study would lead to a more balanced and realistic view of the role of intellectual property in well-being today.

Chile's report.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The end of television as we know it

IBM has released a report called "The end of television as we know it". The report worries that, as vieweship for traditional television declines, advertizing revenue for traditional broadcasters will also decline. As content is released directly to audiences online, broadcasters will no longer be the middle-men between (American) content producers and (Canadian) audiences. Canadian broadcasters would therefore no longer be able to sell Canadian television ads inserted over American programming. This would, the report says, threaten the pool of funds available for creating Canadian content and local news.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, in response to the report, calls for regulation of new media and continuation of Canadian content requirements.

The European Commission has warned member states against exempting traditional broadcasters from regulation while they set up new media shops. Apparently Deutsche Telekom in Germany got an exemption while it set up a high-speed Internet network. (see today's Financial Times)

Does the decline of the traditional broadcast model really mean the end of local news? How much can other forms of communication networks compensate for the end of local news in smaller cities?

Would this really be the end of television commercials? If so, I think it's good news.

If traditional broadcasters are encouraged to develop online media, what kinds of opportunities will be lost while they prop up old profitable business models at the same time?

IBM Report Summary: "The end of television as we know it": http://www-1.ibm.com/services/us/index.wss/ibvstudy/imc/a1023172?cntxt=a1005266
Feb 9 2006: I have received a hardcopy of the report from IBM. If anybody wants to borrow it just let me know. It's 24 pages.

Today's G&M article on the IBM report: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060127.wxrtv27/BNStory/Business/