Work prepared for the contest "Future of copyright" .
I allow the publication of my work on the license CC BY-SA 3.0.
The work is a literary version of original project, containing proposals of legislative regulations from the scope of the copyright. The project also contains proposals to implement these legislative regulations, based on principles of openness and the lack of the compulsion.
Author : Arkadiusz Janusz Translation from Polish : Kuba Kwiatkowski
The law is respected if it fulfills one elementary condition: it has to be beneficial to everyone it applies to...
When I came back home, my son was watching a movie. I noticed that the video was strangely blurry.
- What're you watching? - I asked. He turned to me and replied:
- “Unbelievable 6”. The new one!
- I don't think it's available in the web yet – I responded, astonished. - It premiered in the cinemas last week. Let me guess... I paused. - You've downloaded a pirated copy?
He looked at me, confused.
- Yes, I've downloaded it. But I didn't have to pay anything. It was for free.
I shook my head and responded harshly. - Son, you'll be 14 years old in a month. I don't want you to become a small time crook in a the future.
- How about a big time crook? - he asked ironically.
- I'm not joking. - I said. - Putting that aside, what if you eventually have to pay a lot for this movie? It's an old pirate trick. Do you want me to end up in court?
We're not rich, but we can afford a cinema ticket, or to pay a small amount for downloading a movie.
He hung his head.
- You have two options: either I will confiscate your credit card for two weeks, not to mention there'll be no allowance, or I'll give you a lecture on ethics.
- Lecture me - he replied bleakly. - You know I don't have choice.
-A few years ago, I wrote a specialist book, in my field. First, I registered it in ICO: the International Copyright Organization. - I began. - There, I had to pay for a review, the book received an ID number which was then inscribed in the book's source code. Then my work was added to the ICO catalogue, so that everyone could share the book on their website, provided that the file is original.
- I remember that – said my son with a vicious smile. – Mom was yelling at you that we need new jackets, and instead you're paying for some crazy book, for which they should be paying you.
- Well – I responded – Mom has the right to her own opinion, but we don't have to agree with her. Let's move on.
- I published a book. A studio made a movie. Someone wrote a game, and someone else takes photos. Everything goes through ICO. Artists register their works there, and ICO enables them to make money by selling those works online. The procedure is exactly the same as in the case of my book. And now comes the best part: every company and every individual, like me or you, who buys the file on ICO's website, can share it for downloading on their own website and make money on that.
- So why do we buy movies on some other sites, and not on the ICO one? - my son asked.
- On the seller's site we pay 1 dollar for a movie. We download it on our hard drive, watch it as many times as we want, and that's it. On ICO's site, for the same movie we pay 15 dollars, because we pay for the movie and the license. ICO inserts our customer number in the movie's source code. Without the costumer number, we can’t get paid if someone downloads the movie from our website. Who can be a member of ICO?
He looked startled for a moment – Well... only states.
- Exactly. Because they establish laws and make sure they are respected. So, we bought this movie with a license for sale from ICO. This is the first step. We posted it on our website and...What will you see under the movie title?
- Well, there is always a price there.
- Now, the price is hidden in the movie's code and it appears automatically when you post the movie on your site. The thing is that the movie has a fixed price. We can't sell it for more or for less. This is the basic rule. ICO imposes its prices on copyright holders because it has to make sure that an average Joe Blow can afford a movie.
- And film studios don't rebel against it? - asked my son.
- In the beginning they did. But it quickly turned out that the studios which decided to go with ICO's conditions, sold over 1 million movies in a year and earned a few million, despite the fact that each movie had cost only a dollar. The studios that demanded over a dozen dollars for a movie, sold a few thousand copies and only earned a few hundred dollars. 2 years after its foundation, there wasn’t a single company and studio which didn’t have a deal with ICO.
- Selling something for a low price makes you sell a lot more, so you earn. I get it - my son nodded.
- Prices are a weird thing. If you buy a movie from us, you pay a dollar. You go to England, and after a conversion to dollars, this purchase costs you almost 2 dollars. In a small, poor country, you’ll buy the same movie for 15 cents...
- And they call this a fixed price?
- The file doesn’t contain a price, only points. In other words, the price is quoted in points. A point has a different monetary value for every country. Here, the minimum wage is about 1000 dollars. We divide the minimum wage by one thousand and receive the amount value of 1 point. If you download a movie, the server checks in which country you are, and converts the points into the appropriate price.
-Sounds smart. - my son said. - That way almost everyone can afford downloading movies or music.
- There're still countries, where people earn about 100-150 dollars a month. - I confirmed. - This way we all have equal rights. Now, listen what happens next... Imagine we start our own website and we buy books and movies from ICO. Remember that every file contains our costumer number – it's very important. We put the website on a server and wait for clients. Someone buys a file through our site. And now listen. The dollar our client pays, lands on the ICO's account. The owner of the server gets 10 cents. What do you think such an owner would do, if he found out that we give away movies etc., for which people have to pay elsewhere?
My son shrugged. - It's simple. They'd block this site, because it's a waste of money for someone who runs the server. It's like stealing from him.
- That's exactly how it is. See what happens with that money further on. 50 cents lands in the pocket of a person who has the rights to a movie or a book, you know what I mean...
We still have 40 cents. 20 cents are ours, because the file was sold through our site. How much remains?
- 20 cents. – replied son.
- 10 cents goes to the company via which you downloaded the file. It's called the provider. Why do you think cities want everyone to use free networks, although they are slower than the commercial ones?
My son smiled. - Because then those 10 cents land in their pockets.
- The last 10 cents goes to the country of residence of the person who bought the file. To be exact, the provider takes 20 cents, but gives 10 cents to the state treasury. You see son, today the copyright law is respected only because everyone has their “share” to collect and everyone counts on that money. The file with a movie costs a dollar, but there are over two billion downloads of those files per day. It's a huge amount of money for those who own servers, sell files, provide networks and, of course, each country's treasury also makes sure that it gets its share.
- And the average Joe Blow pays for it all?
- Two weeks ago I bought a brand new game with you. “Future-something”. I remember that we paid 5 dollars for it. It's a price imposed by ICO. Otherwise the game would have cost 70 dollars and I don't know if I had bought buy it for you. We're not that rich. Thanks to those prices, which are expressed in points, Joe Blow from every country can afford it. Nothing is for free.
- But there is one more catch I didn't tell you about. Anyone can start a site and sell whatever they want, under the condition that they bought the file with the ICO's license. If it's a company, then the ICO transfers money to its bank account. But let’s say it’s me, and I don't have a company. I’ll also get the money, but in a different way.
- Why not to your account?
- A company pays taxes, while the money Joe Blow makes isn’t taxed, the state doesn't take any part of it. You don’t have to include it in your tax revenue. Imagine that I have a site like this and I’ve made 100 dollars in a month by selling files. I don't have a company. My 100 dollars lands in my provider's account, who deducts the fee from the bill I have to pay for their services. The provider works the other way too: the bill we pay for the Internet is a fee for the Internet, as well as for downloaded files. Let's say we have to pay the provider 105 dollars for all that. He will deduct the 100 dollars we’ve earned, and we'll get charged 5 dollars.
So it pays off, right?
- Sure – nodded my son. - And if there's more than what’s on the bill, we'll just download more in the following month, basically for free.
- Something like that. That's why in our times, pirates are at on the verge of extinction. Most frequently, they're maniacs or followers of some strange ideologies.
- OK dad, but I listen to the radio on the Internet every day, sometimes I watch movies, videos, e-cinema, Internet TV...What about that?
- You also pay for it, but you don't notice it. The difference is as follows: you pay a dollar for downloading a movie, but the quality is great. You pay 5 cents for watching it in e-cinema, and you know what’s the quality like... For listening to the radio online you pay 0,05 cents per each song. A whole month of listening to the radio costs merely 2-3 dollars, and you would have to listen to it a lot. In ICO there are special licenses for those who host Internet radios, e-cinema, Internet TV...
- And YouTube?
- Similar. The thing is, that when sharing a file, an Internet user doesn't know that it goes through a number of filters before it lands in ICO and comes back from there. When you publish a file, you have to describe its content. If you made a video yourself, then the ICO states that it's free of charge. If it's someone else's work, then robots check if it matches the description and compare it with database. Once they check it, the video comes back to YouTube, and the copyright holder is inscribed in the video's source code. If you publish X's music video, and you'll write that this is their work, the robots will check it and everything will be fine. But if you write that the video is solely yours, YouTube won't publish it and will send it back to you for correction. And the last thing: every file you want to share with people for free, also has to go through the ICO, and then it costs nothing. Sellers who download it to their sites, will also get it for free – as well as Joe Blow. But if you publish a file you made on your site and won't register it in the ICO, you could be charged with piracy and get into trouble. Ok, enough of this lecture, I'm tired.
- And I feel like talking...- my son laughed.
- I'll say one more, most important thing: Joe Blow doesn't face any charges for downloading a pirated file. No one will hunt you, because you downloaded a pirated movie. The one who shared this pirated file for downloading faces charges. Anyway, there is no sense in risking sharing a pirated file, when you can do it legally without any problems and earn some money at the same time...
- Right. I just realized that I could start a site like this and make something out of it. Dad, can you give me about 100 dollars for those licensed files?