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UK expert waves prospect of international Digital Copyright Exchange

While the UK newspapers go on and on about the Hargreaves Report out this week, which focuses mostly on changes to the UK copyright law, Faultline imm


Published: 19 May, 2011


While the UK newspapers go on and on about the Hargreaves Report out this week, which focuses mostly on changes to the UK copyright law, Faultline immediately picked up on a core single recommendation – the setting up of a Digital Copyright Exchange – something he says needs to happen before the end of 2012.

What is a Digital Copyright Exchange? Or more to the point, what would one look like and who would use it? It is something that Faultline suggested in 2004 when internet delivery of content was not only possible, but happening on a large scale, even if mostly it was through illegal P2P networks like Kazaa and Napster.

And since then we have watched and waited and tried to understand why such Exchanges have not emerged. They are used to trade oil and gas, to swap financial assets, why not film, music and games. Perhaps it will indeed take government action to create not just one international copyright exchange, but perhaps one per country, each of them linked to one another. Better still there would be either a single European or Global exchange or perhaps two, a bit like global positioning satellites, credit card companies or PC operating systems – with two major suppliers, so that it’s not quite a monopoly, but without hundreds of fragmented services which would be useless.

In Professor Hargreaves’ mind this is an online method for copyright licensing, a way for content suppliers such as TV channels and Pay TV operators, to browse available content, find content that would suit their audiences, view the terms under which it is available, perhaps make offers on it, or bid for exclusivity and purchase permanent, long term, temporary or non-exclusive VoD rights to the content, along with all copyright licenses. It would be, if you like, a backbone for Netflix-like services and it takes us back to the Verizon announcement in April this year, where it says it has a network that can carry content streams to any part of the globe, and also to the NDS InfiniteTV Exchange, a just launched B2B internet content marketplace which ties content owners up with platform operators.

One is a network operator coping with all the issues of delivering streams to said operators, and the other is a way of conducting the deals to agree on terms of such sales. In our view it is pointless having one side of this equation, the copyright and financial side sorted out, without the other side, the mechanics of delivery.

As we thought about this in further detail we felt that perhaps this really does need a government behind it – because it doesn’t seem very simple at all.

Just assume that content has to be viewed on multiple devices – TV sets, gaming platforms, set tops, tablets, PCs with Windows, PCs with Linux, handsets in various operating systems – just think purely about the method for content protection. It would have to be software based, and there are plenty of content protection technologies out there which offer multi-screen protection by offering downloads to different processing architectures – but we have to acknowledge that if these are delivered as executable files, even encrypted files, that this will lead to increased opportunity for piracy (which may or may not, in turn, lead to increased piracy).

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