Distributed Intellectual Product Rights Common Rights, Collective Rights and Intellectual Property
Distributed Intellectual Product Rights
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Nicholas Bentley

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How will the DIPR system protect against pirate copies?

I believe the conditions listed above for the proposed DIPR system protect the consumer, whether a legal purchaser or someone claiming their common right to the intellectual content, at least as well as current copyright practices and more so in many instances. The primary question for rights holders, of course, is how will the DIPR system protect their products from illegal and unpaid use.

Currently, anyone can lend or sell a copyrighted digital product, whether they bought it or not, as they only have to have possession of it to be allowed to pass it on. Keeping a copy of the product as they pass it on is illegal but many people do not understand, ignore, or think this rule does not count. "They don't understand it [copyright rules], and I don't blame them: It isn't a particularly easy set of rules to understand, and even when you understand it, it's very hard to argue that the rules make any sense - ….", says Jessica Litman. Many digital products are licensed these days, presumably to bypass the first sale rules, however I am not sure that this is in the spirit of copyright or in the best interest of society.

Under the DIPR system only owners of the PRD identifications are entitled to lend the product and only the primary rights holder or their agent is allowed to sell the product. Anyone passing on a PRD identified product without owning one of the identifiers is acting illegally and can be challenged. Even stating that they own a product without owning an identifier could be construed as being illegal. This rule is easy to understand and the identifiers are easily verified in the DIPR environment.

There will only be one tier of lending allowed under the DIPR system, an identified consumer can lend his or her identified product to a known acquaintance, which I predict would produce a similar level of un-rewarded distribution as the first-sale rule produces in traditional copyrighted materials (say books). There is no technical impediment to the transfer of a 'common right' product at the individual level when neither party owns either of the PRD identifiers but making these products publicly available on a web site, a peer-to-peer network, or any other public space would be illegal, obvious, and identifiable and therefore could be legally challenged. A public awareness campaign could help firmly establish the principle. [28]

Consumers who hold a valid identified product could also make it publicly available on a web site, say, but the following conditions will tend to dissuade them:

  •      They would have to be prepared to demonstrate their ownership of a PRD identification.
  •      They maybe degrading the value of a product of which they own a collective 'share'.
  •      They would be obliged to identify, to the DIPR environment, all common right users who claim a copy.
  •      They are not allowed to charge or accept anything in exchange for the product they are making available to a third party. This consumer passing on the product would be obliged to cover all the reproduction, distribution, and registration costs.

This new commercial situation under DIPR, I believe, will allow numerous opportunities for the rights owners to promote sales of a product even though consumers holding legal identifications to the product will be allowed to lend many copies. The two identifications in an PRD identified product which is registered to both the creator and the consumer create a peer-to-peer link directly between this creator and consumer and allows the two parties to strike a deal which could take many forms and be of mutual benefit [29] . Such as:

  •      Creators could provide rebates on future products – therefore supporting good clients.
  •      Consumers could earn a partial refund by recommending a product to another consumer. When this second consumer purchases the product the identification of the original consumer would provide the route for the referral bonus. This recommendation process could provide valuable promotion of the creators work as both the creator and consumer have an interest in finding another consumer willing to buy.
  •      Updates and new versions could be provided automatically.
  •      The creator could provide a physical product only available to licensed consumers or give identified consumers of music products a chance in a lottery for live concert tickets for example.
  •      Identified consumers could be allowed to vote for or suggest future product enhancements.

The trading conditions listed above could also be listed under the heading ‘business models’. In the ‘Digital Dilemma’ business models are identified as “A third powerful factor in the mix”, the mix of law, technology and business models for providing intellectual property protection. The collective regime and the DIPR system provides the legal and technical framework to allow this third factor, the business model, to take maximum effect.

I should say at this point that I believe that pricing policies will also play an important role in the success of these strategies, as would, easy to use, automatic, payment systems with low transaction costs. To reiterate the argument of others:

“Business models that can contribute to the protection of IP include traditional sales models (low-priced mass-market distribution with convenient purchasing, where the low price and ease of purchase make it more attractive to buy than to copy)”.

In addition to the above there are other benefits to owning an identified product some of which I have mentioned before:

  •      The consumer can demonstrate their legal ownership of intellectual products.
  •      Consumers will be able to manage their rights to these products.
  •      Replacement products are always available.
  •      Less likelihood of a virus in an identified product.
  •      There are no restrictions on when, where, or on what playback device they can use for the product.
  •      The authenticity of the work is ensured.

Third party illegal trading of an intellectual product, the circumstance which really harms the creator, consumer, and society as a whole, will be easily identified and relatively obvious to any consumer or official. For example, trading a Property Rigths Descriptor (PRD) identified product without issuing a new PRD with one of the identifiers registered in the new consumers name would be illegal as would trading a PRD identified product with a false PRD. A legal PRD and its owner can be verified instantly through the administrative office structure on the Internet and why should any consumer pay for an illegal copy when they could probably obtain a free copy under their common rights to any intellectual product.

Removing all traces of the PRD from the intellectual component and then trading it will be the most difficult to recognise because it could be difficult to verify if the product was initially in the DIPR environment. The penalties for this abuse of the product should be severe for three reasons:

1.     It is cheating both the author and the consumer.

2.     Removing the PRD is illegal under the DIPR system.

3.     Trading a PRD identified product, without obtaining the rights to do so, is also illegal.

If using the DIPR system for trading intellectual products became the norm this type of abuse would become easier to detect because it would be unusual to have an unidentified product.

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© 1999-2007 Nicholas Bentley Updated: May 2007