The act of sharing is the 'value moment'.
#3098 Created 03/27/2012 Updated 10/27/2016
A curious situation is emerging. Consumers steal media objects, create distribution lists, and "share" the objects. It's part of people communicating with each other by sharing their thoughts, words, artifacts, food, images, etc. It won't be long before business models dominate this space.
That behavior is replicated on the Web through social media in the forms of 'liking' and 'sharing' texts, sites, images, etc.
Among the things shared are copyrighted material, such as images, music, movies, texts, etc. in addition, services exist that specialize in offering material for free downloading regardless of copyright status, including music, movies, academic documents, etc.
Large owners of copyrights -- music and movie companies, broadcasters and cable channels, news creators and publishers -- are fighting for their existence through several means, including utilizing technology to restrict access to their products, using the courts to prosecute varieties of offenders, and using the legislative processes to create new barriers for misuse and new techniques for enforcement and prosecution.
The existing commercial systems of creating, producing, and distributing movies, music, books, news, etc. are based on the creation of value through the transfer physical property, or the granting of temporary access for consumption. Their revenue model depends on demand vs. supply, i.e. the principle of scarcity.
The technology of the Web creates a contradiction for that model, due to the ease of replication of media objects. Many can copy, and all can distribute using readily-available tools. The practice of copying and distributing -- enshrined in the functionality of email, chat, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. -- is widespread,
Further, the scale of the problem -- replicated across a significant percentage of the world's 2.2 billion users (Ref) -- makes legal enforcement against individuals problematic, at best.
This contradiction may be resolved by changes in enforcement, by further legislation, by changes in technology, or by a shift in the paradigm that makes copyright a valuable and necessary concept.
A change in enforcement is represented by an expansion of the strategy of prosecuting individual users to include the hosting services and websites that enable the mass-scale violation of copyrights (search the clippings). For audio and video, the has been represented in attacks on hosting services such as MegaUpload. For print, this has been represented by the efforts of the Associated Press to extract licensing agreements from large news aggregators.
Further legislation is represented by new laws proposed or enacted in the United States (SOPA, PIA), Japan, the EU, and Australia aimed at downloading, file sharing, and counterfeiting, which include expanding the responsibility of hosting services for their customers' content.
Changes in technology will lift the veil of anonymity for many common user transactions, and can result in prosecutions against individuals for copyright violation. Integration of web-crawling technology with copyright enforcement will be part of a larger range of government and private profiling of all people. Additionally, the technology exists to not only identify large quantities of copyrighted material that exists (such as fingerprinting and search analytics), but also to document new material as it is created, and to identify the duplication and distribution of that material as it propagates through the net.
Changes in the economic paradigm will change the equation. The current property-based economic model depends on scarcity and control of reproduction, and underlies current international and U.S. copyright law. The rule of scarcity which is contradicted by the functionality of Web technology, and the tendencies of humans to communicate and share.
The emergence of 'sharing' as a specific, labeled functionality of social media sites enables and encourages this behavior. The act of sharing -- creating a distribution list for a media object and/or message -- is already being exploited as the 'value moment' for advertisers, one that is not directly dependent on property rights. The sharing value moment could accommodate existing copyright structures through licencing or other models, or new law could emerge to expand user rights.
---- The way that content is produced and consumed is changing. The 'means of production' is shifting from centralized, mass-media facilities to distributed, independent individuals and groups. The 'method of production' is shifting from bucket-and-dump pattern of mass media to the interactive, socially-woven streams