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Closed Vs. Open Sourced Material

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I have been thinking about a comment I got on creative commons and how it should be more clearly labeled in the longer run so that people know what they can do with media.

In the longer run, we mocked up a web site here as an example of what I am talking about. In that, you can tie in legal media, creative commons media, news on the peer-to-peer front, and a running commentary on late breaking news in one site that clearly identifies where the media is coming from and what can be done with it.

What we are really seeing here in the closed veris open war is a continuation of the Linux Windows open versus closed source material extended into media. The BBC had a brilliant article on why copyright is broken in the UK, Australia is fast tracking their own DMCA type legal framework, we Americans have a pile of copyright law, and all of it centers on proprietary media. Much like proprietary code, and other proprietary works, they all limit how a person can use the material.

We agree to many restrictions on things when we buy them, and we have accepted that since the first “Click Wrap” agreement came along. The enforceability of those has been clearly defined and established. Unfortunately, we do not really have a click wrap agreement on those CD’s and Movies that we purchase at the store, something to think about. If we really knew, what our rights were at the time of purchase about the item that we purchased. Would we really buy it, or would we be stuck with it because it is the only game in town, and we have no real other choice?

In a digital age, where people can work with just about any copy of anything, including clips, music loops, code sets, and otherwise, we work within the confines of the limitations that the producer puts on their material. Big box business has a need to exert how that control is enforced, and uses various laws to enforce that control. While open source, open media, and otherwise that has various limitations on it as well (read all versions of the creative commons license, including the newly open for comments CC 3.0) and we see the exertion of control. People want to know how their works are being used, and want to limit how they are being used.

There is not a rallying cry yet around the open/closed media yet; much like there is around closed and open software movements, that time is coming. As big box media works their way through legal means (no matter how it looks to them, we all beat on Microsoft when they did the same thing, and continues to do the same thing) the producers of open media need to work through a supply chain that gives open media the same channels that open software has. A company could do well to package, box, distribute good open media along the same distribution channels that big box media uses. Open media already uses the internet in millions of ways, every band on MySpace is essentially giving their music away for right now (even if it is limited to just four songs), places like garage band and others distribute media. However, there is no real ground swell in open media like there is in open software.

The opponents are clearly marked, just like in the Windows Linux battle, the ability to do things with media, closed or open are already available to everyone who wants to play around with media formats, and content. The boundaries are clearly defined, and many people want to use their closed media in ways that they want to. For example, whenever I buy an album, I rip it to my computer, then on to the MP3 device of my choice, or may make a mix CD of tracks for the car. The album is then dumped in a box, shoved in a closet, and saved so that if I loose the computer, I have access to the original media. I want to be able to do that, and a lot of folks I know do the same thing. Proprietary media in England forbids that kind of action, its not digital ready in the law yet. I am pretty well positive that I am breaking an American law along the way, but it is how I use legally purchased or legally downloaded media.

I do not worry as much with the CCMixter stuff I download, as I do with the CD’s I copy to the PC. There is a clear boundary between closed and open media, and I think that the vast majority of people try to respect that. Defective by Design, Creative Commons databases of media and material, the Harvey Danger album that was released CC; all of it is starting to happen much like the original Linux Windows battles that have been raging on now for years. While it would be great to not have an Open/Closed media battle rage on, we are in it, and what is at stake is how we can use the media that we purchased, and how we can use the media that we download.

Closed source, Open Source, the digital age opened up the argument, and only those of us in the digital generation will be able to figure out how those digital works will be, or can be used. Big Box anything that relies on proprietary formats has its place, and a very important one, but Creative Commons works, open works, have their place too. What we need to see come along is the Red Hat of Open Media, if a company like that exists, let me know, I have yet to find them.

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Dan Morrill has been in the information security field for 18 years, both
civilian and military, and is currently working on his Doctor of Management.
Dan shares his insights on the important security issues of today through
his blog, Managing
Intellectual Property & IT Security
, and is an active participant in the
ITtoolbox blogging community.

Closed Vs. Open Sourced Material
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About Dan Morrill
Dan Morrill runs Techwag, a site all about his views on social media, education, technology, and some of the more interesting things that happen on the internet. He works at CityU of Seattle as the Program Director for the Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Security educational programs. WebProNews Writer
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