Broadband


Variety has reported that one of the Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarter expert panels has recommended that pre-authorisation for re-use of copyrighted content over internet channels be scrapped, requiring potential redistributors to simply pay royalties to copyright holders for content they stream on webcasts rather than gain prior authorisation. (see posts in VarietyAsiaOnline and commentary on ars technica)

According to a Nikkei BP publication article, a similar proposal has been put forward by Japan’s Keidanren‘s chairman Fujio Mitarai and Itochu chairman Uichiro Niwa , has been put forward as a way to both allow for the full utilisation of copyrighted content that may otherwise be ‘gathering dust’, and as enabler to fill the ever-expanding distribution channels with ‘much needed’ digital content.

[The government should establish new legislations that include a] “more simplified, convenient procedure that could replace pre-authorization by each right owner” in a bid to promote the distribution of digital contents.

The IPSH’s Intellectual Property Strategic Plans have long stated the aim to maximise the distribution of content over digital broadband channels (see Chapter 4 of the 2006 Strategic Plan (in pdf)).

The proposal was criticised by a group of 17 copyright organizations including the Japan Writer’s Association and JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers). Free-to-air commercial broadcasters are likely to be against the proposal as well as it not only loosens their control of content for which they own broadcast rights, but also threatens to erode their traditional business model of selling content-viewing audiences to advertisers.

Which situation is better for the sustainable development of the content industry is not a simple question to answer. On the ‘rights’ front, one school of thought would suggest content holders should be able to maintain control of their products and distribute them in a way that they see fit. At the opposite end of the spectrum, opinons abound that third parties should be able to redistribute content provided copyright holders are being paid for its use.

While it makes sense for a corporation to have control of its product portfolio and use it in ways it sees fit in order to maximise return (or minimise losses), allowing content to be reused by third parties may actually prove to be a profitable way for copyright holders to reap returns both on popular content and in particular on content that has not proved so profitable and has been consigned to be ‘locked in the vault’. While the knee-jerk reaction of incumbent rights holders would be to reject the new proposal, it might well be worth their while to consider the merits of a system that (on a limited basis?) provides them with new channels to distribute and gain revenue from their content.

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Skipping from content in Japan to pharmaceuticals in Thailand (see articles on compulsory licensing in Bankok Post and a Huffington post on IPR and access to medicines), parallels can be drawn between the two, where a government passes legislation that allows local firms to distribute the intellectual property developed by one patent/copyright holder provided they pay royalties for fair use. While ensuring the supply audio-visual programming on the one hand and the availability of life-saving (generic) medication at a low price on the other seem worlds apart, they also share common economic properties: high upfront development costs, extremely low marginal costs that make them both ripe for unauthorized use and compel developers to maintain firm control of distribution.

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According to this article, Europe online and digital content in Europe is going to suffer due to the uneven rollout and take-up of broadband, combined with the piracy of IP (given than music is one of the content sectors predicted to be ‘big’ for online transactions)

According to an article in The Australian, Telstra is pushing the Australian Government to deliver on broadband to the bush (read: lobbying the government to accept its proposal and not its rival’s). Telstra says it has the means and strategy to deliver 8mbps ADSL to 95% of Australian households (up from 91%) mainly by removing its paired-gains system that prevents ADSL use.

But seriously, ADSL? Over what distances? Attenuation of signal strength is a well-known issue when using ADSL over long distances (which I imagine this would be). An 8mbps signal would drop below 1mbps after a couple of kilometres from the exchange (which I imagine many of these households would be).

While providing HiBIS-like subsidies for satellite broadband users might not be sustainable in the long-term, the question needs to be asked whether giving up on competition for an 8mbps in theory ADSL connection for the bush is any better, and whether it could be worse.

We have heard it time and time again – industry pundits, analysts and consultants, governments hoping to promote the industry and provide support for fledgling industries – content industry will drive growth.

This time, an article from financialexpress (written by media and entertainment head of Ernst & Young, India) says that media and entertainment will drive the growth of broadband.

While Asia accounts for approximately 47 percent of the world’s broadband subscribers, India is currently lagging. Yet, given the enormous popularity of films in India (and the prolific industry’s ability to churn them out), it is expected that India will soon be bursting with potential for the digital distribution of content as demand for content drives broadband take-up.

The article, however, makes no mention of the need for the physical infrastructure to be rolled-out in order to give people access to high-speed broadband. There is a clear ‘chicken and egg’ relationship between content and infrastructure, and the article fails to recognise the necessity of a coordinated investment in infrastructure (let alone the capital to provide a bulk of the population with access to it) combined with a regulatory approach that given the private sector filip to commit to extending their networks.