The Digital Media Manifesto



J. Ingram


Response to "A response to a particularly good question"




Commented text is in italic


The DMM vision is currently stated as:
The Digital Media Manifesto proposes to make an improved Digital Media experience economically rewarding on a global scale -- legitimate for the multiplicity of players on the value chain and satisfactory for end users -- by overcoming significant and challenging obstacles.

This does not include individual creators who are not (yet) part of a value chain. I am unable to find any references to such people in the DMM.
Leonardo has told me privately that this is an oversight. Such people's rights should  be covered by the DMM.

I am making two proposals:

  1. Scott's value chain should be amended to read "Individual Creators" or "Individual Enablers" instead of "Creators", and the list of professions in "Individual Creators/Definition" should only include creators who have the right to hold back their work. Creative professions such as "set-designer" or "music copyist" dont belong here because such people dont have that right.
  2. The DMM should take account of plagiarism - which affects individual creators' rights regardless of their participation in any value chain.

The drift of my previous message (especially taken as a whole) was that I think there is something wrong with the list of professions inside the value
chain's "Creators/Definition" box. So Scott was right to rephrase my question "What do you mean by an Artist?..." as: "What do you mean by creator? And in the context of The DMM, what do you mean by creation?"

I'd like to simplify the question even further: "What is a creator in the context of the DMM?"

As becomes apparent below, this is a slightly different question from "What is a creator in the context of a value chain?". I'll address this second question first.

Scott says:
A. Beginning with James¹ question, "What do you mean by ArtistŠ?" I would begin to reply, artists are many, but in the context of The DMM, the creation provides the answer: it is the person or collaborative group of people that produce a work that either directly or through the involvement of some form of additional production assistance results in a digital work that has currency within the DM Value Chain. So, the dancer is an artist, but in the context of DM, her dancing becomes salient when she is photographed, video recorded, or the like, and her artistry can be conveyed digitally (and with her consent) to others.

At the value chain's *production* stage (where producers are involved), DM is created by groups of creative people. For practical reasons, not all such people can be assigned rights to the end product. Usually, on big productions, the rights (principally copyright) are assigned to the producer (who may be an institution, a manager and/or a creator) to help him pay for and preserve the financial value of his product (supply and demand
economics). Subordinate creators (e.g. cameramen, minor actors, dancers, musicians, set designers, copyists etc.) are given other kinds of contract.

So (Scott again):

All artists that collaborate to establish a creation of am.1 / dm.1 (see above), a reproducible original, should be (are?) accorded the attendant rights / privileges of that creation, rights.1.

is wishful thinking.

More often than not, such artists are in such a weak bargaining position, that they have to relinquish any rights they may theoretically have in order
to get the job in the first place. Such artists/creators belong hidden in the production phase of the value chain. They are just one of the producer's costs - like the salaries of the non-creative people he has to pay (secretaries, cleaners etc.). The "producer" (the future copyright holder) is the "creator" at the production phase of the value chain. His employees get their money from the revenues percolating up to him in the value chain (copyright, royalties, rental fees etc.).

In his diagram, Scott effectively defines a 'creator' as someone who has the choice between making a product public or
not. Put more generally: "A value chain 'creator' is a person (or committee) who has the power to move a product into or down the value chain - or not."

Such "value chain creators" could be called "value chain enablers" (if they actually do some enabling!). The higher up such an 'enabler' is in any
particular value chain, the more jobs become involved with the product he is moving.

In other words, a person's profession (e.g. dancer) does not automatically qualify them as a "value chain creator". Being a "creator" or "enabler"
depends on the contract under which the person is working. A "creator" is a person (or committee) who has the right to hold back his work. People who work as part of a team do not have that right.

An artist who does not move his work into any value chain (maybe because he cant find a publisher who thinks he can make money out of the author's
work), is simply not a "value chain creator/enabler". He does however continue to have (IP?) rights. He should not, for example, be plagiarised. (see below).

At the other extreme, an artist who has the power to block the distribution of an entire industrial production (maybe for quality control reasons), may
well be powerful enough to negotiate getting (a direct share in) the copyright/royalties/rental fees etc. of that production. This seems to me to have more to do with the power to sell (big names sell) and the power to negotiate a good contract, than with the act of creation. The monetary value of a production comes from the market, not from its ideal, cultural value. Such a powerful creator would, in the context of a large production, be
benefiting from a producer's rights - effectively he is himself a producer.

The upshot is that I think we have to distinguish very clearly between the rights related to "Copyright" and "Intellectual Property" (Is this
distinction clear in current law and/or the DMM?):

Copyright is a mechanism for preserving the financial value of marketable products or information (supply/demand economics ). It was designed for use by producers (e.g. music publishers), not for individual creators, but is owned by the latter by default. The individual creators I know would be only too happy for others to foot their photocopying or CD-pressing bills. They certainly don't have the time or technology to chase copyright infringers - that's a job for professionals.

"Intellectual Property" is a concept which has been introduced because we feel that there are good cultural reasons for supporting individual creators who are not necessarily part of any significant value chain. It is not necessary to bring in IP to justify copyright (which only depends on supply/demand economics). Deep problems arise if we try to say that the copyright for a film has anything to do with the copyright holder's (producer's) IP. A copyright holder may be an institution. Do institutions have an intellect? What about the IP of all the copyright holder's employees?

Note that:

  1. People who work in teams automatically get paid for what they do.
  2. Individual creators are not necessarily part of a value chain.

Here' how plagiarism comes in:

When individual creators publish their work on the internet (e.g. Leonardo publishes "Riding the Digital Bits"), they effectively give everyone the right to make an unlimited number of copies (at their own expense!). The creators are initially waiving "copyright", but they probably don't intend to give everyone the rights to

  1. make money out of their work without passing some of that money on.
  2. plagiarise (use the creator's work as if it was their own).

Case 1) would put the text into a value chain, and would turn the case into one of "copyright" infringement (covered in the present version of the DMM).

Case 2) need not involve money (a value chain) at all, but would be a forgery in both the real creator's CV and that of the perpetrator. It would therefore, for example, damage the creator's reputation and (e.g.) his prospects of getting a job on the strength of his efforts.

DRM is currently concentrated on restricting the copyability of DM. If such technology became available to individual creators (outside a value chain), this might enable them to keep tracks on who has copied their work without necessarily wanting to charge them money for doing so. They might, for example, want to:

  1. check that they are not being plagiarised.
  2. check that they are being correctly quoted with proper references.
  3. ask the copiers if they would like to be kept informed about their future work
  4. keep themselves up to date on the work of other people with the same interests.

Creations, at whatever stage in their life cycle, could be released in protected form. But that would still leave us with the problem of sorting out the privacy issues associated with keeping track of illegitimate copies. This problem has to reach consensus (and a legal framework) before any serious software software (agents?) can be developed to help us solve it. We can probably postpone that problem to the DMP. The DMM assumes that effective DRM solutions are going to be found.

I think that small, Individual Creators may currently be gaining control over Producers in some fields, precisely because the copyright laws are not working. DRM obviously comes in here. If DRM can be made to work, then power structures inside value chains effectively revert to the position we had in AM before photocoping machines were invented.