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Q & A With Canada's Michael Geist 56

Torrentz writes "P2PNet is running a question and answer session with Canada's Michael Geist, a leading Internet and copyright expert. Geist discusses P2P, the music business, and the future direction of copyright law." From the interview: "My focus has traditionally been on Internet issues and I'm very active on privacy, spam, Internet governance issues. The growing attention to copyright merely reflects its critical importance to the Internet and to creativity and culture more generally."
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Q & A With Canada's Michael Geist

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  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:53AM (#14993219)
    Mr. Geist, your expertise with Internet Copyright Law seems to have the momentum of a runaway frieght train. Why are you so popular?
    • In spite of his "expertise", I see a fairly clear flaw in his premise, which is quoted in the Slashdot blurb:

      "The growing attention to copyright merely reflects its critical importance to the Internet and to creativity and culture more generally."

      The reality of things, I think, is that attention paid to copyright reflects its importance to media *corporations* who are afraid of changing times, as well as to the corrupt politicians (e.g. Orrin Hatch) who have staked out careers based on selling out their con
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Prof. Geist,

    From a naive perspective, it would seem that copyright and patent laws have become ludicrously one-sided (its seems the public interest would usually be best served by breaking them). I would like to hear your perspective on the state of balance in these laws. Which countries, if any, are best/worst for keeping the public interest. Is corruption playing a role in making copyright and patent legislation?
  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @09:26AM (#14993336)
    Reading the article, I am struck by the common sense he exhibits. I have to say this whole P2P thing really needs to be sorted out - it is consuming far too many resources.

    As I think back to when I was younger, the way those of use with little disposable income got our music was to record it off the radio. I would wait anxiously for the Thursday night countdown so I could try to get a recording of my favorite songs. Of course we didn't have nonlinear digital editing tools (or even crude analog editing tools) so invariably there would be a DJ yammering (and sometimes other room sounds) on my recorded music. And I became the master of the 70's fadeout, turning down the volume of the radio near the end of the song, trying to end the recording gracefully before the DJ chimed in. Anyhow, it strikes me that the big difference between then and now was that, while I could get (inferior quality) free music, I couldn't easily share it with others, though occassionally I would get together with friends and let them copy my recordings (and vice versa). Oh, and when I got a few sheckles together I would buy the 45 of my favorite songs, and over time built a decent collection (decent in size, not quality ;-).

    So this makes me wonder if we need to change the P2P universe somehow. I just don't think the current system is sustainable over the long-term. To me the "problem" is massive sharing. I personally believe this goes beyond the concept of "fair use". I don't think there are many people who consider it a crime for me to loan a friend a CD (or a book or a DVD for that matter). If we could extend that model somehow to P2P, keeping it easy to share with people we have "direct contact" with, but more difficult to share with people on another continent, I think that would be a more balanced approach. And of course there would be nothing stopping artists from distributing their stuff broadly if they so chose. I could almost imagine "content-playing machines" exchanging some sort of key or token via some non-remotable physical interface, thereby allowing those machines to share content with each other. Sounds Orwellian, I know, but it would maintain the "fair use" aspects while inhibiting massive sharing.
    • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:18AM (#14993398) Journal
      I don't think there are many people who consider it a crime for me to loan a friend a CD (or a book or a DVD for that matter). If we could extend that model somehow to P2P, keeping it easy to share with people we have "direct contact" with, but more difficult to share with people on another continent, I think that would be a more balanced approach.

      But if it's OK to lend a CD or a book to a friend who lives in the same city as you, surely it's OK to lend one to a friend who lives further away?

      It doesn't even have to cross continents - if I live in London and you live in Edinburgh and we only physically meet a couple of times in a decade, then it's going to be very inconvenient for us to meet specially to set up a sharing link. And as soon as you allow any form of remoting (even sending a physical token by post), you open things up again for people sharing with people on a different continent who they don't know in the slightest and couldn't even describe as a passing acquaintance, let alone a friend..

      And how do you stop people passing things on to all their friends, and so on? Six degrees of separation, and all that: however you set the system up, someone would come up with a filesharing program that would work with it. It might be slower than current systems, with a lot more steps required to transfer a file between continents. But it'll work.
      • It might be slower than current systems, with a lot more steps required to transfer a file between continents. But it'll work.

        I agree, and that is *almost* my point. By forcing people to invest time and effort, abuse will be throttled. Yet at the same time it would still be easy to share/swap with nearby friends. If you wanted to swap with someone a half a world away, they *could* send their device to you, and then you could swap keys and send it back -- then you could swap via the net. And of course you
        • I understand your desire and intent, but you are basically tipping over your own sig: "Politician's Logic: Something must be done! This is something, so it must be done."

          I personally think the biggest objection people have to all these DRM schemes is that they get in the way of common, reasonable use of purchased content.

          I agree many people see it that way, but I think that is a superficial understanding of the problem, and in fact wrong understanding of the problem.

          I say there is absolutely nothing wrong w
          • First, thank you for the excellent and detailed response. I read it several times and can readily appreciate your argument. However, I believe we have a fundamental disconnect. Full disclosure: Yes I am a coder, and beyond that, I have in fact implemented DRM in a prior job. Yes, I understand that the key must be embedded in the device hardware, and that the key must be unique for every device, not just every TYPE of device. And content must be encrypted using the target device's key. And yes, I acknowledge
            • We agree even more than you realize :)

              Where we part ways is how DRM affects and is perceived by the other 99% of the population.

              Oh, I certainly agree with you there.

              (1) I just accept that certain undesireable things are not reasonably aviodable. There is no reasonable right or reasonable means to prevent people from developing new formats (and DRM encryption is little more than a really obscure format), and no reasonable right or reasonable means to prevent them from doing things like the old "floppy disk d
              • Are you familiar with pandora.com? [pandora.com] If you haven't, you can try it 10 hours for free. Pandora is only $35 per year, and it is a pretty impressive internet radio system.

                Thanks for the pointer. I gave Pandora the run-through the last few days -- comparing it to Yahoo Music Unlimited. I think for the things I value in a music service (ability to choose, ability to play music even when not connected to the net, wide selection of "mainstream" artists, encode quality) Yahoo is a much superior exp
                • I searched everywhere on my harddrive for those "open mp3s" you spoke about... Could Pandora perhaps have switched?

                  Possible. I haven't used it in a while.

                  Or maybe I wasn't clear about the files... I found them in the the window temporary folder with no file extention. If I recall correctly, the directory list / file names looked like this:
                  Access-1
                  Access-2
                  Access-3
                  Access-4
                  Access-5

                  only being able to skip 10 songs/hour

                  Yes, that is annoying... but I found it east to work around. It's 10 skips per hour per statio
  • Dear Mr. Geist, I am currently a student at U of O. I first want to congratulate you for giving our university such a positive image in online community. I have recently learnt through a reliable source at the University that services like SASS (Student Academic Success Service) send records by email containing psychological and academic profiles tied with the student's name and student number. As you are probably aware, email is not encrypted and system personnel who manage those email ac
  • CRIA? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drmarcj ( 807884 )
    Do you think Canada will ever be in the same situation as the US where even young children can become CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association of America) victims? - we asked him in the Q&A below.

    OK, I can name at least one thing wrong with that statement. (Hint: there's no Canadian association of anything American).

  • Handsup everybody who streams radio while online. I suspect there is a hole in the data and it will turn out that radio listeners have just gone online not gone away.

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