Archive for April, 2008

Economies of the Commons blog posts

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Students from the MA programme ‘Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image’ covered the event with posts on this blog. You’ll find the sessions in the list below:

ECC videoec-morepics.jpg


Economies of the Commons and the Blogosphere

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Students from the MA programme Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image are covering the event with posts on this blog. Other participants are also posting reponses on their respective blogs.
First finds:
Jon Phillips @ Technophobiac News
Pierre Gorissen @ ICT & Onderwijs BLOG
Stoffel Debuysere @ Diagonal Thoughts
Alek Tarkowski @ Kultura 2.0
Peter Suber @ Open Access News
Meike Richter @
Gulli Community Verein @ Gulli
Jonas Woost @ Twitter
Silke Helfrich @ CommonsBlog
Brianna Laugher @ All the Modern Things
Felix Stalder @
Robin Kawakami @ weeklyblog
Paul Keller @ Kennisland
Twan Eikelenboom @ neW Media Wanderings


Panel 6: Professional Cultural Producers Sat Apr 12 15:15

Monday, April 14th, 2008

By this point in the conference, the afternoon of the third day, the challenges of the commons had been fairly well explored: Current copyright law thwarts free access and reusability; archives aren’t sure where to position themselves in the continuum between protecting their assets and promoting their collections; digital information can be copied and distributed so perfectly and cheaply that the value of the information is approaching zero… information wants to be free.

Which raises the question- if information is free, how do the people who manage and create information survive? Are we devaluing their efforts as well? Musicians seem to be navigating this tricky situation by using their digitally distributed music to promote their “in the flesh” touring schedule; visual artists can hope that people will come to see their work in person even if their images are splashed and appropriated all over the internet; educators and lecturers can perhaps be subsidized by universities, or can get more speaking gigs in order to make money. But what are filmmakers doing? What about authors? How does this potentially new audience of freeloaders help the creative person?

The timing of this segment on Professional Cultural Producers was very well planned, as it seemed necessary to hear from them about their abilities to navigate this tricky market. First to take the stage was Florian Schneider, a videomaker, essayist and cultural organizer, who overlaid his own theoretical talk of imaginary property with a video of a piece of physical artwork being carefully transported to a museum by a registrar. His talk focused on these issues of imaginary property, information flows, fears of representation and mis-representation, the fear of the illegitimate copy. In this discussion, he represented the theoretical side a practical issue, but I was looking for some practical case studies.

The next speaker was Bauke Freiberg, from FabChannel/Culture Player, who spoke about their product, which acts as a platform for concert videos from Paradiso and Melkweg, popular clubs in Amsterdam. Just as a museum might record registrations of its art shows, Paradiso started recording its concerts, and over time this grew into a sophisticated 6 camera system, which now records and streams concerts, with ads and corporate sponsoring. In this regard, they are tied into the traditional marketing model of wrapping content in sponsorship. They hold traditional contracts with the artists on their site, and everything seems to follow the normal copyright model. So, it is a concrete example, and a good-functioning one, of a sort of “corporate” solution, in terms of distribution or control of images.
So, from a very theoretical and open-source argument from Florian to a clean, corporate solution from Bauke, we arrived at the final speaker of the day: Kenneth Goldsmith, from Ubuweb in New York. He reinvigorated the audience by injecting humor and irreverence by declaring that he was not interested in creating community or having user feedback, that his site was not democratic, and was run only by a field of expert volunteers. Ubuweb never clears copyright on anything – his panel of volunteers mine and re-post artist text and video from a variety of sources, including members-only sources like karagarga. They have no ads and make no direct revenue from the site, and have a page for people and organizations which have asked to be taken off the site.

Afterwards in the Q&A, with Rick Prelinger joining the stage, and moderated by Eric Kluitenberg, and audience member asked a simple yet difficult question – what can one tell an archive who wants to get started, who wants to enter this digital environment? The answers ranged from “Just get started.” to “ I really don’t have any advice for you.” It may not have been the brightest note for the ending of the conference, but certainly reflects the dilemmas and confusion facing archives and creators as we come up against the new economy of the commons.


Panel 3: European Digital Library

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

The third session of the second day was held under the heading European Digital Library. The four speakers presented the initiatives that they work on, the gaps that are called to fill, what has been succeeded by now and what are their future plans.

Paul Doorenbosch, the first speaker, presented the project of the National Library of The Netherlands, the Dutch approach of the digitisation project in the European Context, the creation of a Digital Library.It is based on the i2010, the EU policy framework for the information society and media for a European Information Society for all citizens, based on a series of flagships; the key proposals of i2010. Digital Library focuses on both cultural heritage and scientific information. Paul Doorenbosch talked about the national plan for developing infrastructure, professionality and copyright issues. He mentioned the Dutch governmental actions in digitisation, the nationally – such as Images for the Future (Beelden voor de Toekomst) and Dutch Heritage:Digital!- and internationally based projects such as MICHAEL and EDN. EUROPEANA, a project which was analysed by the second speaker, is the reference point for the digitisation activities of The Netherlands.


Jill Cousins, the director of European Digital Library, took the floor to talk more thoroughly about EUROPEANA,a European digital library net that aims to connect museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections under the supervision of European Digital Library Foundation (EDL). She started by mentioning the gaps between vision and reality that EUROPEANA tries to fill, such as the relationships of users and content providers, content and copyright, Europe and nation, nation and Institution, funding and attitude.


Jill Cousins continued by presenting the work plan of EUROPEANA, what has been succeeded by now, which is the current situation and what are the next steps. A fully working prototype will be launched in November 2008. What EUROPEANA aims for the future is to increase the number of partners, to determine the discussion model, conceive the roadmap and, last but not least, find the funding for next year.
The third initiative was VideoActive, presented by Sonja de Leeuw, professor of Film and Television at the University of Utrecht. VideoActive is a two-year project (2006-2008) for bringing European television archives together. It has 14 members in 10 countries. It is about 10.000 items of television archival content from earliest TV recordings on film, to data such clipping of TV guides and still photos. The portal will be launched in May 2008. What adds value to this project is the procedure of comparison. It studies the differences and similarities of European television in different topics, like the content, the language. It is about a comparative survey of TV holding of archive partners.


The last speaker was Georg Erkes, who talked about the European Film Getaway (EGF) project which will give online access to film archival content. EFG will start in September 2008. Its aim is based on the new user expectations and the necessity of internet accessibility. Its objectives are to create a single access point, a common European filmography and a gateway to content from film archives. At this moment, EFG has 22 partners and 16 content partners. Georg Erkes mentioned that the technical part of the project will be supported by DRIVER (Digital Repository Infrastructure Vision for European Research). The content will be based on catalogues and film content, so it will be both media and document types. Of course, Georg Erkes pointed out the IPR issues that EFG has to deal with facts such as that the half material, especially the moving images, is not owned by the archives partners or the public domain and that there is not experience in rights-clearance. Netherlands Filmmuseum will lead on IPR work package. What it is attempted is the evaluation of copyright laws and regulations in each member country.


All speakers mentioned the difficulties of their projects but they also stressed their intention to continue the European vision for the digital unification of European archives.


Economies of the Commons: Public Keynotes & Responses / Sustainable Images for the Future

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Tonight we had a four-part presentation. It all started with an introduction by Beeld & Geluid director Edwin van Huis giving a brief overview of the Images for the Future project, currently the biggest digitization project for moving images in Europe. They were able to get the massive sum needed for this kind of project by using not the cultural argument (“this is our heritage – please save it!”) but by making an economic equation which had to prove that the government would get a 20-60 million euro return upon investment. Or in other words by convincing them that the Dutch audiovisual heritage is valuable simply because it sells.


Next was Rick Prelinger from the Prelinger Archives. He gave a high-speed talk reflecting on the nature of (moving image) archives, his experiences with opening up his entire collection to the public on-line by using a free/fee division and his self-criticism on the archival world. Basically he stressed that what’s crucial for an archive is to be accessible. Archives have a social contract, which means that they should be an active part of the society they gather the remnants of. He stated that what the US archives lack in coordinated efforts, their European counterparts lack in local, small-scale, DIY projects to get involved in a community and to get that community inside their walls. His talk was illustrated with a series of photographs of which a different, older version can be found here.


David Bollier from On the Commons talked about how the commons disrupt the old business model, about how a different way of creating value came into being with the rise of the internet and its community-based inventions such as open software, wikis and the likes. The public domain may once have been a wasteland for things unnecessary to all, he propagated, but is now the place where creativity peeks. What the commons called into life was a ‘great value shift’ in which socially created value has become a macro-economical and cultural force in its own right. Part of his talk was based on a text by Benkler & Nissenbaum which can be found here.


In the discussion, Emjay Rechsteiner from the Dutch Filmmuseum was then invited to respond to these talks from his (institutional) point of view. Most of the topics discussed were about copyright issues, about which Edwin van Huis explained that their difficult position is that, as a moving image archive, most of their materials were obtained by promising the owners they would never let the public have general access to them. The response of the public was that, as big institutions, they are exactly the ones who could be able to broaden or alter the copyright restrictions they are caught up in. Another issue was what’s happening to the AV heritage of countries that don’t have the fundings for such massive projects like Images for the Future, to which the answer came that an organization called Archives at Risk is currently taking steps in this field.


in the final wrap-up, Prelinger expressed his (pretty realistic) fear that the monster projects certain cultural institutions are putting a lot of money in nowadays, may turn out to be useless in a few years, overtaken by developments in technology…


Photostream Sebastiaan ter Burg

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

… a nice photostream from Sebastiaan ter Burg at Flickr you can find here.


Panel 4: Uncommon Business Models

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Panel 4 takes the discussion from yesterday a step further. Harry Verwayen (Kennisland) recaps yesterday’s discussion. We have learned from yesterday about the commons, the social contract that we have. A place where archival materials should be available and where the market has to join in. It is an investment worthwile like INA did in France and Images for the Future in the Netherlands. But, there is a cost aspect. So there should be a sustainable business model. How are we going to do that?

We have to keep two aspects in mind. Verwayen points out that there is a paradigm shift going on inside the archives themselves. These organisations have to transform completely. Also, it is neccessary to look outside of the archives. We have to listen to what is going on with piracy and p2p networks as Jamie King was talking about yesterday. So, the aim of this session is to come up with models that could be usable and reflect on the ‘uncommon’ side of it. Verwayen encourages us to try to get beyond the restrictions that are constraining in this session.

7 models

There is always a cost and revenue aspect. Verwayen talks about 7 possible open business models.

  • subscrtiption model
  • pay per view/ download (ODE)
  • free + added quality (Prelinger Archives)
  • freemium (+ service) (Flickr, Linkedin)
  • advertisement (NY Times)
  • sponsorships (Memory of the Netherlands, Google Books)
  • community engagement (Tribler)

Most of the money was traditionally earned in a closed environment. Now, how can we do that in an open model?

Open business models in scientific publishing

Jan Velterop, CEO of Knewco ( is one of the leading experts on Open Access and open business models in scientific publishing. He states that he doesn’t believe in open business models, but he does believe in ‘opening up’ business models. Information is ‘funny stuff’ in this respect that unlike food, after you consumed it, it is not neccesarily gone, he explains. The problem with information is its ‘natural state’. It is open. It goes where it goes. So how do we make money with information or at least make good the costs?

According to Velterop there are 3 potential sources of funding. The reader. Here copy right is the construct of making money. But, subscriptions come with restriction and this is something that is not alway desirable. Second, the author, the provider of information. Actually this is more common than people think according to Velterop. A classic example is advertising. Third, 3rd parties.

The key is the one who has the biggest interest, is the one who pays. You see that most business models, for example in the newspaper industry, move to the author or the sponsor who pays instead of the reader. Open access in research publishing works, because in research publishing there is a big interest form the author. Closing deals as a publisher with the authors is a way to give open access to information at least for scientific publisher Springer.

Last FM: an open model on music

Jonas Woost, Head of Music at the pioneering music company Lastfm (, talks about their open business model successfully used in an industry that has shown to be particularly vulnerable in the open environment of the internet, the music industry.

The ’scrobbling business’ is the core thing of Last FM, he explains. You come to Last FM and run some software. The software – ‘a kind of spyware’ – is listening to what you are listening. On the basis of what you listen, you can socially interact. Recommandation of music is based on “collaborative filtering”. Further on, artistpages are created automatically on LastFM. Like wikipedia users can add information to their profiles. Than you got two services. A streaming radio like service in which the key is ‘discovery’. There is not much interaction, but users can dicover new artists and new music. Second, you have free on demand streaming. You can search, find and listen music on demand.

Woost talks about their relationships with rights owners. Artists and labels get paid every time someone listens to a song. Also, an artist without a record label can sign up and profit. The more you listen, the more you get paid. The traditional situation was that you got paid per CD so somehow this system is more fair.

LastFM makes money in 3 ways. Ofcourse, there is ‘visual advertising’. Banner advertising. Second ‘affiliate links’. You will find links of all music displayed on LastFM going to 3rd party retailers. This is a “win win win situation”. The music fan is happy to find new music. Label can sell their CD, and for every successful transaction LastFM receives a commission. Third, a subscrition offering. The current subscription service gives you certain extras on the website if you want. According to Woost they will soon launch a new model which includes an unlimited anount of streaming on LastFM.

Jon Phillips (Creative Commons) asks if LastFM is just another face of relocking music. After all it is recently bought up by CBS. Woost denies. According to him there wille be no locking. It makes sense to make it free for the user. We make it available as free as we can, Woost argues. Anyone who wants to build a player, can. You don’t have to use LastFM to play the music. The only restriction is that we can pay the right owners.

Panel discussion

Together with pannelists Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Roei Amit (INA), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives) and Eerde Hovinga (NIBG-tbc) Verwayen, Woost and Velterop reflect on the impacts of these models on audiovisual archives.

Can you build something like LastFM for audiovisual archives? Woost thinks you can. But, there is a big diffenrence in listening music and watching video. You can listen to music all day doing other things, with video not. Either way, recommandations are key in both and that will be a huge challenge for the video industry. The panel argues that video can also function as background on your TV, this might be a profitable kind of use of archival video too.

So, what if Google comes along and offers your archive to pay for the digitization. The only restriction is to make it available on Google. Hovinga states that in he wouldn’t sell his archive out for Google just like that, but will take those offers as a serious possibility. According to Prelinger this is the most impertinent question to ask for in audiovisual archives.

Amit argues that archives will not going to have a sufficiant income from the B2C side like LastFM. In about 20 years the value of the audiovisual archives will be less than now, as every day there will be more content available. The value of the audiovisual archives will be further pushed away into the Long Tail where it is hard to make a lot of money. According to Amit this is the reason why there has to be public money in if you want to give the commons access to it.


Panel 2: Commons-based Peer Production

Friday, April 11th, 2008


The second panel of the day was opened by two presentations. The first presentation was by Ton Roosendaal from Blender and the second by Jamie king from Steal This Film. Both represented a different way of financing open source and open content projects. These models and other related topics were later discussed in a panel, also attended by Jon Phillips from Creative Commons and Felix Stalder from Open Flows.

Blender is an open source and open content 3d modeling software package that uses a pre-financed model, in which customers can preorder a movie, from which the profits are being used to create the said product. Other ways of income include foundation community, offering documentation as to how to work with the Blender software, fundings and commercial sponsoring. The main goal of the Blender Project is technological innovation. Ton Roosendaal emphasized that open content doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay for the goods, but rather that it could be used in a free way. That is, to use that content in any way you see fit.


Steal This Film is another open source project, with the emphasis on community based funding. Steal This Film, both part I and II, are a documentary style film using clips from other movies and distributed on the BitTorrent network, using one of the largest trackers. Jamie King claimed that peer-to-peer distribution exceeds all other methods, because it is ‘…the most significant data transfer in the world’. There are hardly any costs in distributing via peer to peer, neither for the producer nor the consumer. Therefore, it’s the most easy way for a consumer to get a product.


Felix Stalder started of the panel, by acknowledging the models used by Ton Roosendaal and Jamie King and added a third model in using advertisement combined with open source and freely distributed content. This does not mean that all creative industry will be affected, but only one type of business model. This being the traditional consumer-producer model, in which the consumer directly purchases the product from the producer.


After this, the panel moved to the topic of quality, content and distribution. Jamie King stated throughout the panel that quality is not the single most important aspect of your product. Distribution is equally, if not more, important. If only you put it out in an easily obtainable manner, people will be inclined to look at your product. Jon Phillips contributed by claiming that content is equally important, after a discussion on the costs involving peer-to-peer distribution. It must be acknowledged that there are inevitable costs in running networks, he stated. Jamie King quickly responded by saying that this is included in the ADSL-connection fee.


After Peter Kaufman asked him to comment on the current situation of piracy in China, Jon Phillips responded that the illegal sales of pirated material on the black market had diminished and that the focus was now on streaming HD content via broadband. Jamie King referred to Stage 6, a similar initiative but without the advertisement, which went down over a month ago due to bankruptcy. Jon Phillips replied, and said that this initiative could be feasible because of this use of advertisements.

The last major topic that was raised concerned the narrative of the Big Buck Bunny film, just released by Blender. Anthony McCan asked why open source productions can’t steer clear from the use of violence, as violence evokes violence. Ton Roosendaal replied that this was the best way to show the technical abilities capable by the Blender rendering software and that creative freedom in the way these technological abilities are displayed is highly regarded.


Economies of the Commons Panel 1: Audiovisual Archives

Friday, April 11th, 2008

The first panel Audiovisual Archives of the ‘Economies of Commons’ conference concentrates on the accessibility by digital technology for the wide public and education purposes. The new online access and distribution possibilities are discussed on a technical level and also in the perspective of national and international rights issues.

In his presentation ‘Inside the Media’, Pelle Snickars from the SLBA (National Media Archive Sweden) compares the actual situation of audiovisual archives to the first translation of the bible by Henry VIII. The distribution of the duplication of the text was taking place all over the Britain. But the bible was fixed in the place of worship by a chain for security reasons. Many of the audiovisual and media archives are placed in a similar situation. They keep their material on the shelves instead of making it accessible by new technologies. Through an architecture of participation and Chris Anderson’s long tale, Snickars argues that the age of mass media is transformed to the age of masses of media by the huge amount of media producers on the web. Improved access needs to be a guiding principle.


The Creative Archive launched by the British Film Institut (BFI) in 2005 aims to develop a digital portfolio and give a public value to the institution. The user can access material for free and create new clips by playing around with the moving images in order to re-contextualize them. It is not an economic model but more an educational one. Poppy Simpson from the BFI stresses that the future of access to archival material is a hybrid model with tired access or electronic guides. Functionality has to be developed to re-use the material in a more intensive manner.


Tobias Golodnoff from the Danish radio and television archive (Dansk Culturav) argues that the value of the archive is generated by its use. Making the material on-line available means giving it back to the public. The case study of the Danish archive shows how the public can participate and interact with the archive. The project Bonanza invited the public to participate in the preservation project by voting which audiovisual material should be digitized in a first phase. The Web 2.0 application gives the opportunity to the user to be an innovator and to develop on projects that are officially over but still on the internet.


In France the INA (Institut National de l’Audiovisuel) operates with a more commercial model that can be considered as a VOD platform. The archive proposes audiovisual material through the internet on a B2B or B2P model. The activity of on-line access is extremely costly and advertisement or sponsoring can help to develop the services. Once archives are online it’s not enough. There should be an added value to be found to maintain interest. We must adapt to how people use online video today. The challenge is to join with content the creation of new users experience. Roei Almit from INA thinks that there is not only one business model that will answer all our needs.


It is not enough to put the material on the web. The add of value and the contextualization of the user can help to keep the audiovisual data interesting.


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

Friday, April 11th, 2008

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.


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.