IP Issues Paper 42 – Costs


IP Issues Paper 42 – Costs

Introductory notes

The Copyright Act imposes transaction costs on everybody, not just participants in the economy. In order to work with any “content” then there is a cost involved in ensuring that the content is properly licensed. This is even present when no formal licence is necessary. For example, in July a year or two ago the University of Berkeley in California moved all of their online recordings of lectures from their own service to Apple’s iTunes product. Apple iTunes is a proprietary layer on top of the HTTP protocol and, in practice the content on iTunes cannot be accessed by users of the Linux or Android operating systems. As a result I started an archival project at archive.org to recover as many of these recordings as I could. In the process I corresponded with one person by e-mail who said that they had wanted to do the same thing but didn’t think they were allowed to. This, despite the fact that all of these recordings have been explicitly licensed under a Creative Commons licence. This person had declined to do something that he was legally entitled to merely because of the risks created by the copyright law. I have no doubt that this is not an isolated case.

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