Monday, November 16, 2015

Copyright and Clips

If you post a 10-second video clip of the good parts of a soccer match, you could be showing the only parts that many viewers care about (the one goal).  This could significantly decrease sales/subscriptions to the video service. Why would you buy the game if you can get the good parts for free? Maybe not the true soccer fans.  But on the margin this could be a lot of lost sales.

If you post a 10-second video clip of the good parts of a new movie, you are probably going to increase sales by ginning up interest. Many people will gain trust that the movie is good and become more likely to spend $10 to go see it.

So what is the case with Google Books, which posts a few pages of a book along with some metadata?  Do those few pages increase or decrease the potential revenue for the authors/publishers? The Second Circuit just ruled that Google Books is Fair Use because it is transformative of the original content.  It is a research tool rather than a basic copy.  The service would increase interest in a book more than it would decrease it.  Again not 100%, but on the margin.

A recent article in Bloomberg warns that this could be concerning to other industries if it leads to a more open definition of Fair Use and a looser definition of transformation. Transformation has to be significant enough that the new content is different from the old content. Using a few chords from an old song in a completely new song is transformative. 2 Live Crew’s sampling of Roy Orbison’s song Pretty Woman was deemed transformative in 1994, but Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams was too close to Marvin Gaye’s original Got to Give it Up.

Many industries rely on copyright protection as part of their business model.  Movies, music, art, games, software, and more. Billions of dollars, euros, and yuan (and bitcoin) are at stake.

Here is your free preview of the adventure story. Stay tuned for more.