Peter Kaufman: The Economics of Film and Video Distribution in the Digital Age

In the opening keynote for ‘Economies of the Commons’, Peter Kaufman put forth one of the main concerns which will be addressed throughout the congress. In a highly digitalized information society, copyright is in some ways much more a burden and much less a safeguard, especially regarding the dispersal of cultural heritage, public knowledge and content. And so we should reconsider the current state of copyright.

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Films, television programs, music and all other sorts of media content are made rapidly available through peer-to-peer networks. According to studies, music distributed through iTunes can be downloaded for free (although illegally) in an average of 8 minutes after its release, Kaufman said. In this age content becomes available for anyone, at any time, an in the immediate future at any place, as media carriers keep expanding the possibilities and storage capacity.

The consumer evolves into a producer and distributor. He distributes existing content, but he can also use digital content to recreate new content and thus also create culture. Rather than trying to stop this phenomenon by applying copyright acts, Kaufman suggested that we should embrace these possibilities and use them to our advantage when disclosing culture heritage and public knowledge.

This is already happening by initiatives in both public and private sectors. Several institutions in the public sector outside of America give way to start thinking about collaboration and the creation of platforms which help to distribute content through the proper, accessible channels. Even within America, and indeed throughout the world, private initiatives have made it clear which type of models could be used to distribute this kind of content.

After the keynote some interesting points were raised in a brief Q & A session. Topics of these questions were among others the scarcity of media in the pending future, the role of traditional, local media and the zoning of online media content. These questions could not yet be fully answered, as some were food for future thought while others would be most likely addressed at other panels throughout the congress.

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