Copyright Technology, Gangnam Style November 7, 2013Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Asia-Pacific, Events.
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The Samsung TV monitor wasn’t particularly large. But the picture was so sharp that, even from several meters away, you could make out each hair of the perfectly sculpted eyebrows on the perfectly groomed K-Pop starlets performing on the MTV Korea broadcast. The scene was a casual neighborhood restaurant in Gangnam, the upscale district of Seoul that PSY made world-famous. The makgeolli (Korean rice wine) flowed freely, if more freely to the locals than to those of us who had flown across many timezones to get there. We were all celebrating the successful end of ICOTEC, the International Copyright Technology Conference, which attracted 600 attendees earlier this week.
This is what happens when a government not only pays lip service to copyright but also puts its money where its mouth is. South Korea is in the midst of a perfect storm of growth in digital media: Samsung Galaxy mobile devices everywhere; broadband Internet at speeds several times those available in the west; K-Pop idol factories churning out one international sensation after another. The media, telecoms, and consumer electronics industries don’t agree on everything (e.g., consumer electronics companies refuse to pay copyright levies on their devices), but they largely cooperate – as their offices sit near one another in Digital Media City, a special district across town from Gangnam that emerged from a landfill site just over a decade ago. Much of that cooperation is fostered by the government, and it has resulted in a global digital media juggernaut.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) sponsored ICOTEC, now in its third year. It was as well organized as any private-sector conference I’ve seen, and admission was free. The conference program had more emphasis on technology than on law compared to my own Copyright and Technology conferences in New York and London. That’s fitting because, as I have mentioned, Korea and its Asia-Pacific neighbors produce more innovation in rights technologies (relative to their GDPs) than the traditional content-producing regions of the United States and Europe. But now Korea is producing technological innovations not just to satisfy the distant demands of western media companies; it’s launching innovative content models and technologies to protect copyright for the benefit of its own multi-billion-dollar content. As ICOTEC attendees could see, Korea has perhaps the most vibrant rights technologies industry of any single country in the world today.
The Korean government’s own foray into rights technology is particularly interesting: it operates the Copyright Protection Center (CPC), part of the Korean Federation of Copyright Organizations (known as KOFOCO). The CPC runs a piracy monitoring system called ICOP — a reverse-engineered acronym for Illegal Copyright Obstruction Program.
ICOP is analogous to private-sector piracy monitoring services such as MarkMonitor, Irdeto/BayTSP, Muso, Ayatii, and various others. It monitors various types of online services, including P2P file-sharing sites, web portals, “web-hard” (Korea’s equivalent to “cloud storage”) services, torrent sites, and so on. Like those piracy monitoring services, ICOP uses a combination of techniques including fingerprinting technology and analysis of metadata and information surrounding potentially infringing content on the monitored sites.
ICOP gathers data in real time and sends takedown notices to the sites, which remove the content to avoid action from Korean law enforcement. CPC claims that nearly all of the monitored sites take down the accused content when requested. The effort also includes crackdowns on physical piracy: CPC employees armed with smartphones use specially-designed apps to photograph sellers of pirated DVDs and CDs on streets, in subway stations, etc. The apps geo-tag the photos and send them to the CPC in real time, where the data is displayed on maps, analyzed, and passed on to law enforcement for further action.
ICOP is arguably more effective than monitoring efforts elsewhere because it’s better integrated with law enforcement. Media companies in the west use private-sector piracy monitoring services, which provide data that copyright owners must use to generate takedown notices and initiate litigation and law enforcement actions. The hands-off approach of western governments fosters competition among piracy monitoring services, which should theoretically lead to more effective technologies. But the reality has been a limit on revenue opportunities that has led to market consolidation, as many piracy monitoring services have merged, been acquired by larger companies for synergies with other businesses, or just ceased operations.
In contrast, CPC gets 90% of its funding from the Korean government. It operates on an annual budget of about US $5 Million, which works out to just 9 cents per Korean citizen; the other 10% comes from content industry trade associations. (By comparison, HADOPI costs the French about 15 cents per citizen per year.)
ICOP’s fingerprinting technology comes from the Electronics Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), a government-funded research lab. Although much of the system is automated, the CPC employs 110 people to monitor and report on illegal content on targeted online services. The employees are disabled citizens who work from their homes.
(The CPC operates completely separately from Korea’s “three strikes” graduated response regime, which, like HADOPI, targets individual downloaders instead of online service operators. Korea was actually the first country to implement graduated response.)
KOFOCO started ICOP in 2008 in response to the rapidly growing rate of piracy amid an equally rapidly growing content industry in Korea. CPC estimates that the size of the illegal content market shrank 27.6% between 2011 and 2012 alone, and that the infringement rate dropped 14% in the same time period.
Yet the Korean government doesn’t just focus on copyright enforcement. MCST supports what is perhaps the world’s leading effort to educate the public about copyright. It has also expanded the scope of fair use under Korean copyright law, increased access to public-sector content, introduced more cost-efficient legal processes for small infringement claims (for settlements below roughly US $10,000), and dramatically increased the efficiency of music rights licensing.
The ICOTEC conference put all this activity on proud display for attendees and speakers from around the world. It was a ton of very interesting information. The K-Pop CD sampler I bought at the airport on my way back should help — as the makgeolli did — to further my understanding of a country whose impact on the global digital media scene will only get bigger and bigger.
My keynote presentation at ICOTEC 2013 is available on SlideShare. Watch this space for links to other presentations from the conference.
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We have added another panel session to the Copyright and Technology London 2013 conference, which will take place next Thursday (17 October). The most important recent copyright litigation in the UK at the moment is the case of Ministry of Sound v. Spotify, in which the record label is objecting to Spotify making playlists available that mimic the compilation albums for which the label is best known. The case has broad implications for the limits of copyrightability in the digital age, at least under UK law.
Here is the panel description:
The Limits of Copyright in the Digital Age
The litigation that Ministry of Sound recently started against Spotify will test whether playlists on compilation albums have copyright protection. It will be played out in the context of the debate about to what extent we as a society are prepared to pay for curation. The same issue faces news-disseminating organisations over their headlines and sports reporters over game highlights. Does our society value the editorial/quality control/validation role that they play? This panel will explore the boundaries of what is – and should be – protected by copyright in the digital age and suggest what directions legal decisions in the future may take.
Although the case was only filed a month ago, we have been able to pull together an excellent group of authorities on both the legal and content aspects of the matter, thanks to the tireless efforts of Serena Tierney of Bircham Dyson Bell, the panel chair and herself an authority on copyright in the digital age. Panelists will include:
- Jeff Smith, Head of Music at BBC Radio 2 and 6; former Director of Music Programming at Napster
- Mo McRoberts, Head of the BBC Genome Project at the BBC Archive
- Lindsay Lane, Barrister at 8 New Square Intellectual Property and co-author of the standard copyright treatise Laddie, Prescott and Vitoria on The Modern Law of Copyright and Designs
- Andrew Orlowski, Executive Editor of The Register, who has covered this case.
This means that we will have a packed day of exciting sessions from all around the world of copyright. Places are still left, so register today!
MEGA CEO to speak at Copyright and Technology London 2013 September 26, 2013Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Events, UK.
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With less than three weeks to go until our Copyright and Technology London 2013 conference, I’m very pleased to announce some additions and updates to the conference agenda. Most importantly, Vikram Kumar, CEO of Kim Dotcom’s new service MEGA, will appear by videoconference from New Zealand. I’ll be talking with him about copyright issues related to the market for cloud storage services, and he’ll take questions from the audience.
I’m also particularly excited about a few of the sessions at this year’s conference. A very hot topic in the digital copyright field nowadays is websites that attract traffic with offers of free unauthorized copyrighted material and make money from advertising, and what the advertising industry could be doing about this. Our panel on this issue will include Nick Stringer from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (representing the ad industry side) and Geoff Taylor from BPI (representing recorded music). It will also feature Jeremy Penston, an independent consultant in the UK who has been the brains behind piracy studies for PRS, Google, and Spotify; and Nick Swimer from the law firm of Reed Smith to provide the legal context.
And speaking of piracy studies, our panel on cyberlockers will feature David Price of NetNames (formerly Envisional), author of a highly detailed study called Sizing the Piracy Universe just this week.
We will also get a presentation on HADOPI, the French graduated response agency, from Pauline Blassel, HADOPI’s research director — just a week after the agency is to give a progress report in Paris. And speaking of progress reports, our session on the launch of the Global Repertory Database (featuring speakers from Google, STIM, and others) should be quite interesting.
With a spectacular setting at Reed Smith’s offices in London, Copyright and Technology London 2013 should be a great event. Please register today! Our sponsors, MarkMonitor and Civolution, are helping to keep registration fees low.
For those of you on the other side of the world from London, you may also be interested in the International Copyright Technology (ICOTEC) 2013 conference, which will take place at the COEX conference center in Seoul, Korea, on November 4-5. I will be giving one of the keynote addresses.
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Lots of announcements to make regarding our Copyright and Technology London 2013 conference coming up on October 17.
First I am very pleased to announce our keynote speaker: Richard Hooper CBE, the media and telecommunications industry veteran whom the UK Intellectual Property Office commissioned to carry out the recent study that led to the recommendation for a Digital Copyright Exchange.
Secondly, conference registration is now open with early bird pricing through the end of summer.
Thirdly, sponsorships are still available. Please email me if you would like to receive a sponsorship prospectus and explore the possibility of joining MarkMonitor, Reed Smith, and Civolution as sponsors. If you are a trade association or other membership organization, we can offer registration discounts to your members if you become a media sponsor and help publicize the event.
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Please note that personal confirmation from speakers themselves is required before we will put them on the program.
Copyright and Accessibility June 19, 2013Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events, Law, Publishing, Standards, Uncategorized.
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Last week I received an education in the world of publishing for print-disabled people, including the blind and dyslexic. I was in Copenhagen to speak at Future Publishing and Accessibility, a conference produced by Nota, an organization within the Danish Ministry of Culture that provides materials for the print-disabled, and the DAISY Consortium, the promoter of global standards for talking books. The conference brought together speakers from the accessibility and mainstream publishing fields.
Before the conference, I had been wondering what the attitude of the accessibility community would be towards copyright. Would they view it as a restrictive construct that limits the spread of accessible information, allowing it to remain in the hands of publishers that put profit first?
As it turns out, the answer is no. The accessibility community, generally speaking, has a balanced view of copyright that reflects the growing importance of the print disabled to publishers as a business matter.
Digital publishing technology might be a convenience for normally sighted people, but for the print disabled, it’s a huge revelation. The same e-publishing standards that promote ease of production, distribution, and interoperability for mainstream consumers make it possible to automate and thus drastically lower the cost and time to produce content in Braille, large print, or spoken-word formats.
Once you understand this, it makes perfect sense that the IDPF (promoter of the EPUB standards for e-books) and DAISY Consortium share several key members. It was also pointed out at the conference that the print disabled constitute an audience that expands the market for publishers by roughly 10%. All this adds up to a market for accessible content that’s just too big to ignore.
As a result, the interests of the publishing industry and the accessibility community are aligning. Accessibility experts respect copyright because it helps preserve incentives for publishers to convert their products into versions for the print disabled. Although more and more accessibility conversion processes can be automated, manual effort is still necessary — particularly for complex works such as textbooks and scientific materials.
Publishers, for their part, view making content accessible to the print disabled as part of the value that they can add to content — value that still can’t exist without financial support and investment.
One example is Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher. Elsevier has undertaken a broad, ambitious program to optimize its ability to produce versions of its titles for the print disabled. One speaker from the accessibility community called the program “the gold standard” for digital publishing. Not bad for a company that some in the academic community refer to as the Evil Empire.
This is not by any means to suggest that publishers and the accessibility community coexist in perfect harmony. There is still a long way to go to reach the state articulated at the conference by George Kerscher, who is both Secretary General of DAISY and President of IDPF: to make all materials available to the print disabled at the same time, and for the same price, as mainstream content.
The Future Publishing and Accessibility conference was timed to take place just before negotiations begin over a proposed WIPO treaty that would facilitate the production of accessible materials and distribution of them across borders. The negotiations are taking place this and next week in Marrakech, Morocco. This proposed treaty is already laden with concerns from the copyright industries that its provisions will create opportunities for abuse, and reciprocal concerns from the open Internet camp that the treaty will be overburdened with restrictions designed to limit such abuse. But as I found out in Denmark last week, there is enough practical common ground to hope that accessibility of content for the print disabled will continue to improve.
CISAC World Creators Summit 2013 June 6, 2013Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
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The World Creators Summit (formerly World Copyright Summit but still WCS) took place this week in Washington, DC. The event is run by CISAC, the international umbrella organization of collecting societies that mainly serve songwriters, composers, screenwriters, and visual artists. Its decision to change the name reflects the fact that copyright is not only no longer an insider’s domain but also carries negative connotations in some circles.
The CISAC event takes place every two years, alternating between Brussels and Washington. This year’s conference was an improvement on the last Washington event in 2009 in that it felt more broad in its focus and less concerned with the “inside baseball” of collecting societies. In fact, a consistent refrain throughout the event was the need for collecting societies to make it much easier for digital service providers to get licenses to content.
A few sessions at WCS particularly stood out. One was on antipiracy initiatives, such as the graduated response systems in France (Hadopi) and the US (Copyright Alert System). The most interesting thing we learned there was that, to paraphrase Mark Twain, recent rumors of Hadopi’s death (such as this one and this one) have been greatly exaggerated. (As is often the case, Ars Technica got it the most right.) The reality is that Hadopi’s core “three strikes” system will remain intact, but without the threat of suspending users’ Internet access and with maximum fines lowered from €1500 to €60. The Hadopi agency itself is to be disbanded, but the functions will simply move to another existing French agency, a process that has already started with the transfer of some personnel.
In other words, Hadopi is being repositioned as more of a copyright education campaign — closer to the Copyright Alert System being administered by the Center for Copyright Information, whose CEO, Jill Lesser, was also on the panel.
Although the Copyright Alert System is too new to report results, Hadopi has had time to acquire and analyze a significant amount of data. Hadopi’s director of legal affairs, Sarah Jacquier, acknowledged that Hadopi only addresses P2P file sharing and does not address direct downloads or illegal streaming. She noted that while both legal and illegal streaming have increased since Hadopi started in 2009, that same period saw drops in measured P2P usage, increases in usage of legal services, and an increase from 71% to 78% in the number of users who use legal content services only.
Another interesting panel was “Re-connnecting with the Digital Narrative”; it dealt with the need to re-establish the importance of copyright in the public dialog after the defeat of SOPA and similar legislation last year. Catharine Saxberg of the Canadian Music Publishers Association stressed the need for a simple, unified narrative to match the “freedom” and “censorship” rhetoric used in the SOPA/PIPA defeat, while her compatriot Eddie Schwartz of the Songwriters Association of Canada told of his organization’s “Fair Trade Music” campaign. I found this panel’s relatively low attendance disappointing, given the topic’s crucial importance.
One of the penultimate sessions was a debate between David Israelite of the National Music Publishers Association and Zahava Levine of Google. Many of us were anticipating a contentious prizefight along the lines of Levine’s debate with several collecting society and media trade association representatives at the 2009 event. In that respect, we were disappointed: the conversation was more of a love duet. Israelite praised the increasing importance of YouTube as a licensed music channel and source of ad revenue (which is admittedly more a promise for the future than current reality), and noted that agreements with YouTube were worked out within current copyright law and without recourse to blanket or statutory licenses. (Levine is actually no longer chief counsel for YouTube; she now runs content partnerships for the Android platform, including Google Play.)
The tone among collecting society representatives at WCS has also shifted over the past four years, from inward-looking self-congratulation and turf protection to a sense of urgency that collecting societies have to work together, erase both functional and national boundaries, and generally make it much easier to license content in the digital age.
Axel Dauchez, CEO of streaming music service Deezer, called rights fragmentation “the cancer of the digital world,” and noted music analyst Mark Mulligan said that “rights fragmentation steals the oxygen away from early stage startups” looking to license content. His remarks preceded those of electronic music pioneer and incoming CISAC president Jean-Michel Jarre (did he echo the title of Jarre’s biggest hit album intentionally?), who also stressed the need to automate and simplify licensing. Jarre also stated, regarding the tension between the creative and tech sectors, “I think the worst is behind us.” Although I found some people skeptical about that, the tone of this year’s edition of WCS did augur more hope for the future than previously.
Finally, I couldn’t help but notice a remark made by Matt Mason of BitTorrent. Apparently BitTorrent is working with the media industry on a legitimate content distribution model based on a new type of torrent-able file that contains e-commerce functionality, “bring[ing] the store to the user.” We don’t have any details on this yet but… sounds to me like DRM?
Update: The functionality that BitTorrent is introducing (in beta at this writing) is called BitTorrent Bundles. It is not DRM. It’s more like paywall functionality bundled with the torrent file delivery mechanism, so that the publisher of a file distributed through the BitTorrent protocol can force users to take an action before being able to view or listen to some of the content. This action could be an e-commerce transaction, but it could also be something non-monetary such as supplying an email address, liking the artist on Facebook, etc.
R.I.P. TOC May 9, 2013Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events, Publishing.
Here’s something that’s a little off topic for this blog but can’t be covered in 140 characters.
The O’Reilly Tools of Change for publishing (TOC) conference has been abruptly cancelled after a seven-year run that culminated in its last show in NYC earlier this year. The announcement was made by Tim O’Reilly, CEO of the iconic tech publishing company O’Reilly Media, on his blog late last week – along with some hints that O’Reilly may be commercializing the editorial workflow tool (Atlas) that O’Reilly has been developing in-house and using with its authors.
This is a real loss to the publishing community. It echoes the trajectory of Seybold, which had previously been the go-to conference for innovation and technology in publishing: Seybold rose with the desktop publishing revolution of the early 1990s, got hit badly in the dot-bomb crash of the early 2000s, and never recovered. Both conferences, in their heydays, attracted over a thousand paid attendees and featured well-constructed, jam-packed, multi-track agendas and large exhibit halls as well as a real sense of community among attendees, vendors, and speakers.
As someone who (in a smaller way) has been involved in conference production for over a decade, my view is that TOC was one of the best-organized and best-produced conferences ever — thanks to co-chairs Joe Wikert and Kat Meyer and their team. Their use of the web to organize the agenda, speakers, and community was unparalleled. The agendas were canny, creative mixes of basic education for publishers and sessions on innovative technologies and business practices; accordingly, the speakers were mixes of old hands and new upstarts. Keynote speakers weren’t the usual publishing industry luminaries but “outside the box” thinkers like, most recently, the media theorist/futurist Douglas Rushkoff. Hallway buzz was palpable.
While I don’t know the exact reasons why O’Reilly pulled the plug on TOC, I would guess that they were mainly financial. Kat Meyer told me that TOC was a poor stepchild among other much bigger events that O’Reilly produces, such as Strata (Big Data), oscon (open source), Velocity (web development), and Web 2.0 Summit (now also discontinued). It’s not at all unusual in the tech world for conferences to appear and disappear as tech trends wax and wane; for example, Jupitermedia, with which I produced the Digital Rights Strategies conferences in the mid-2000s, created and disbanded conferences all the time.
O’Reilly has a product mix that’s not unlike other B2B publishers such as Reed Business Information, McGraw-Hill, and United Business Media (not to mention digital natives like TechCrunch): its publications, conferences, training, and other services are all interdependent and represent cross-selling opportunities. When viewed this way, TOC was an anomaly: a conference about publishing, put on by a company whose real business is information technology (and that, like those others, happened to start out as a pure-play publisher in its field).
O’Reilly had few synergies between TOC and its other properties. Conferences are more usually put on by organizations that have other lines of business — such as industry trade associations (AAP, ALA, NAB, CES), market researchers (Outsell, Gartner), or vendors (Apple, Oracle, SAP), as well as B2B publishers. TOC was, by that perspective, a standalone property. It’s difficult to operate a standalone event and make a profit, particularly when you spend as much on infrastructure and community (and Manhattan hotel space) as O’Reilly did.
And the publishing industry is not exactly known for its lavish budgets. One commenter on a publishing blog demurred at having to pay US $1000 to attend TOC for two days; in contrast, conferences like Velocity and Strata charge as much as double that amount. As Tim O’Reilly himself commented at his last TOC keynote speech, “Why are we here? It’s not to make our fortune.”
There are other conferences about publishing, put on by companies that publish about publishing — such as Digital Book World (F&W Publishing) and Publishing Business Conference (NAPCO). Those organizations are probably celebrating TOC’s hasty demise, but it remains to be seen whether they will fill the void it has created.
NYC Conference Next Week November 29, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
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A few reminders regarding our Copyright and Technology NYC 2012 conference next Wednesday. We have two great keynote speakers. Robert Levine, author of Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, in the morning; I’m happy to announce that all registered attendees will get a copy of his book (my review here), which Rob can sign if you wish.
David Lowery, author of the blog The Trichordist, indie rock icon, avatar of the artists’ rights movement, and record label owner/serial entrepreneur/professor, will speak at lunchtime before segueing into a panel on artists’ rights that will also feature Jean Cook, one of the creators of the groundbreaking Artist Revenue Streams study for the Future of Music Coalition.
The timing of Lowery’s appearance is fortuitous. He has been a relentless critic of the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), a bill brought by Internet radio companies such as Pandora that would adjust the way royalties are paid under Section 114(d) of the Copyright Act for so-called noninteractive streaming services. At the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington two weeks ago, Lowery attacked proponents of IRFA such as Pandora founder Tim Westergren and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. He’ll undoubtedly have more sparks to generate about IRFA, especially since hearings on the bill in Congress took place just yesterday.
We will also have technology panels on UltraViolet, DRM for e-books, and the various efforts to build “rights registries” for music, image, and text content.
Finally, we do have some press coming to cover the conference (in addition to a Twitter hashtag, #CT2012NYC, for everyone). If you would like a press pass, please contact me by email.
If you haven’t registered already, what are you waiting for? It’s not too late; click here to register. I hope to see you in NYC next week!
NYC Conference: Earlybird Extended Until Next Monday October 30, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
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I hope that everyone in the northeast United States who reads this is safe and sound after the cataclysmic storm that tore through the area over the last few days.
The earlybird discount registration offer for Copyright and Technology NYC 2012 on December 5 was scheduled to run out on October 31, but given the impact of the storm, we have decided to extend it to Monday, November 5. I’m excited about our lineup, which features double-barreled keynotes by Robert Levine and David Lowrey. Click here to register today!
C&T NYC 2012 Conference: Speaker Lineup Finalized October 18, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
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We have a full roster of speakers for Copyright and Technology NYC 2012, coming to the Manhattan Penthouse in Greenwich Village on Wednesday, December 5.
I am truly excited about this lineup! Some of the highlights:
- Our two keynote speakers: Robert Levine, author of Free Ride, in the morning, and David Lowery, musician and author of the blog http://www.thetrichordist.com, in the afternoon.
- “TV or Not TV?”, a panel on recent important litigations in the video industry, featuring legal experts who are involved in some of those cases such as Cablevision and Aereo.
- A panel on public policy in the post-SOPA/PIPA era, featuring speakers from NBCUniversal and the Copyright Alliance as well as Bill Herman, author of a landmark PhD thesis and forthcoming book on the effects of Internet communication on digital rights legislation.
- A debate on the future of DRM in e-book publishing, with speakers from Simon & Schuster, Sony, Kobo, and Booxtream (an e-book watermarking technology company).
- A discussion of the burgeoning Artists’ Rights movement and its differences with both the media and technology industries, featuring Jean Cook of the Future of Music Coalition as well as David Lowrey and a couple of leading legal experts.
- Technology panels on rights registries (this one featuring the always-interesting Jim Griffin) and the new UltraViolet standard for video.
As usual, our event will qualify for New York State CLE credit for attorneys, thanks to our friends at the law firm of Frankfurt Kurnit.
Please register today — we have an earlybird discount in effect until the end of October. Join us in NYC on December 5!