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!
NYC 2012 Conference: Keynote Speaker; Registration Open! September 29, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
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I’m very pleased to make a few announcements regarding the Copyright and Technology NYC 2012 conference, which will be on Wednesday December 5. This is our third year in New York.
Registration is open; earlybird pricing is in effect until October 31. The conference will be eligible for New York State CLE credit.
I am especially excited to announce that our keynote speaker will be Robert Levine, author of the landmark book Free Ride. Paid registrants will receive a copy of the book, which he will sign at the conference.
MarkMonitor, which was recently acquired by Thomson Reuters, is our lead sponsor. Sponsorship opportunities remain; please inquire and we will be happy to send you a brochure and discuss.
In addition to Rob Levine’s keynote, I am excited about the panel discussion lineup. For example:
- In our Law & Public Policy track, we will have a panel called “TV or Not TV?” about legal tensions around new types of Internet-based video services, featuring attorneys who have been involved in cases such as Cablevision/Cartoon Network and Aereo.
- We will have a panel covering the burgeoning Artists’ Rights movement, which will include David Lowery of “Open Letter to Emily White” fame.
- Our technology track will feature a panel on rights registries and copyright hubs, posing the question, “The Holy Grail or Enemy of the Good?” Speakers will include representatives from Getty Images (PicScout ImageIRC), the PLUS Coalition, Copyright Clearance Center, and International Music Registry (Jim Griffin).
We are looking for moderators. Please contact me if you would like to chair one of our panels. And we also still have a need for speakers for our panels on DRM and E-Publishing, UltraViolet, and U.S. copyright policy in the aftermath of SOPA/PIPA. If you are interested in speaking on one of those panels, please send a proposal with your name, affiliation, complete contact information, and your perspective on the panel topic.
Otherwise, please register to join us on December 5 in New York, and stay tuned for further developments!
Announcing Copyright and Technology New York 2012 September 4, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
I’m pleased to announce the third annual Copyright and Technology New York conference, which will take place Wednesday, December 5 at the Manhattan Penthouse in NYC. (We’re adding “New York” to the name to distinguish it from the London conference we began this past June.) I’m equally thrilled to be presenting this event with Gotham Media Ventures, which produced our last two events in NYC.
Here is the conference agenda, which is subject to change. At this point, we are seeking moderators, speakers, and sponsors. Deadline for speaking submissions is Friday, September 21, and as usual, moderating proposals will be given priority. We are also seeking sponsors; a brochure is available on request. The top-level Conference Sponsor will be able to work with me to define a panel during the morning plenary session. As the number of sponsors has increased at each of our conferences, it’s evident that the sponsors are getting value for their participation!
As with our past events, the agenda will feature a morning plenary session with opening remarks by me, a keynote address, the Conference Sponsor session, and a panel designed to appeal to a wide variety of attendees. Then in the afternoon, we will split up into two parallel tracks. We expect to offer New York State CLE credit for our legal panels.
Here are the panels for which we are seeking moderators and speakers.
- After the Ordeal: SOPA/PIPA Failed. Now What?
The flameouts of SOPA and PIPA early this year led to lots of soul-searching by media industry interests that pushed for it — as well as by a few from the online community who recognized that some attention must be paid to online copyright infringement, even if not through those legislative channels. What is the future likely to hold for legal action on online infringement? Will media industry bodies try to bring new legislation, and if so, what will it look like? Are copyright owners betting on outcomes of big litigations, such as Viacom v. YouTube in the Third Circuit? Our panel of experts will weigh in with their views.
- The Holy Grail or the Enemy of the Good? Rights Registries and Copyright Hubs
One of the major obstacles to the development of legal content services is lack of easily available information about content and rights. Many people agree that online databases of rights information are necessary to solve this problem, and several projects have been started to build such systems. But solutions have proven not to be easy. Is there such a thing as “good enough” in rights registries and copyright hubs, or is it really necessary to dot every i and cross every t before any progress can be made? What are the obstacles and how can they be overcome? We hear from a panel of people who are involved in these efforts.
- Hollywood’s Next Big Thing: The UltraViolet Ecosystem
UltraViolet is Hollywood’s attempt to provide digital video content that people can interoperate and share among their devices. After years of development, a robust ecosystem around UltraViolet has begun to develop this past year, including the establishment of several infrastructure providers and support from various major retailers. This session will explore the status of UltraViolet, technology components and services that are available to retailers, DRM strategies, and other topics relevant to those who are interested in joining the UltraViolet movement.
- The Center for Copyright Information
The Center for Copyright Information (CCI) is an initiative being set up this year by companies from the media and ISP industries. It’s a private-sector analog to government regulatory bodies such as HADOPI in France. Many questions exist about the CCI: as a non-government entity, what power will it have over user behavior such as uploading and downloading files containing copyrighted material? What are its goals, and how will it measure success? Who will fund it? This session will feature key players who will provide answers as well as CCI-watchers who will comment on its likely impact.
- Hitching a Ride: Online Advertising and For-Profit Infringement
YouTube is now the most popular way for young people to listen to music online. Music copyright holders get a share of YouTube’s advertising revenue. But there are many cyberlockers, torrent sites, blog networks, and other services that offer infringing files while making money from advertising and not sharing any of it with rights holders. How big a problem is this, whose responsibility is it, and what can be done to stop it?
- Oh Yeah, Those Guys: The Artists’ Rights Movement
The bulk of the focus in the so-called copyright wars has been on big media companies that own or control lots of copyrights, and their trade-association representatives. Yet there’s a major constituency that hasn’t had its point of view heard very much: the artists who create copyrighted works — musicians, songwriters, photographers, filmmakers, visual artists. An Artists’ Rights community that represents these people has taken shape recently. How do their aims differ from those of Big Media? Who are their friends and enemies in the digital age? Attend this session, which will be filled with leading Artists’ Rights spokespeople, and prepare to be surprised by the answers.
Once again, the deadline for moderating and speaking proposals is Friday September 21. Please email your proposal(s) with the following information:
- Speaker’s name and full contact information
- Panel requested
- Moderator or speaker request?
- Description of speaker’s experience or point of view on the panel subject
- Brief narrative bio of speaker
- Contact info of representative, if different from speaker*
As mentioned above, the agenda is subject to change. If you have another idea for a panel, we’d love to hear about that as well.
If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities, we have three levels, which are described in our brochure; please ask and we’ll send you one. The top-level Conference Sponsorship is a single opportunity that we offer on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks in advance for your interest!
*Please note that personal confirmation from speakers themselves is required before we will put them on the program.
C&T London 2012 Presentations Now Available June 26, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events.
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The slide presentations from Copyright and Technology London 2012 are now available on the C&T website. These include my introductory remarks, the keynote presentation by Eric Walter of Hadopi (although he wasn’t there to give it himself), and the following presentations from panels:
- Rights Registries: Paul Jessop of County Analytics (moderator), Nicholas Bentley of Common Rights
- Content Identification: Alex Terpstra of Civolution, Werner Strydom of Irdeto
- Multiplatform Video Content Security: Jude Umeh of CapGemini (moderator), Alec Main of Nagra, Susanne Guth of castLabs
- International Perspectives on Digital Copyright: Arthur Hoyle of the University of Canberra, Australia
Copyright and Technology London 2012 and Hadopi June 21, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Europe, Events, Law.
The first European edition of the Copyright and Technology conference took place in London this past Tuesday. The highlight of the event was surely the non-appearance of the keynote speaker: Eric Walter, General Secretary of Hadopi, the French government agency set up in 2010 to administer the French graduated response system. Walter cancelled his appearance at the last minute owing to unspecified “agenda issues.”
The law creating Hadopi was very much an artifact of the administration of French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Eric Walter had cycled through a number of ministerial advisory positions in the Sarkozy government before his appointment at Hadopi. In other words, both Walter and Hadopi itself have been very much tied to the now former president.
Furthermore, new French president Francois Hollande had made a campaign promise to dismantle Hadopi (as had his other opponent, the right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen).
So we all had to wonder: was Walter’s cancellation a sign that Hadopi’s existence is being threatened? (And for that matter, was his original request to speak at the conference a sign that he was concerned about the future of his job?)
Fortunately, some of the well-placed attendees at Copyright and Technology London 2012 had some relevant information to share. It seems that the Hollande administration is backing away from its promise to pull the plug on Hadopi, and instead is taking a more deliberate course of reevaluation.
The ambivalence over Hadopi (and over graduated response in general) in the context of France’s move from center-right to socialist government should lead to a healthy dialog about the purpose and economic effects of such a system. This has the potential to be a more productive conversation than the usual ones we get from lawyers, some of which ultimately boil down to complaints that automated systems like Hadopi disenfranchise them from copyright claims processes. (One such comment came at the conference this week from Gilles Vercken, a leading French intellectual property and technology lawyer who gave a very interesting overview of recent developments in France.)
Who actually benefits from a system that is meant to educate users about copyright responsibilities and prosecute repeat infringers? Is it “Big Media,” as epitomized by Vivendi, the French owner of Universal Music Group which pushed hard for the enactment of the Hadopi law? Or is it individual content creators who are finding it harder and harder to get paid?
Governments like those of Francois Hollande are caught in the middle of this. Sarkozy, a conservative, was seen as favoring big business, in this case Vivendi. Hollande is a socialist and therefore presumably in favor of distributing economic goods to the people — including individual content creators. There isn’t much disagreement that online copyright infringement is a problem that has gotten out of hand. Yet the economic statements used to refute graduated response usually come down to “it only benefits Big Media” (a cop-out without analysis to back it up) and “they don’t pay artists anyway” (a separate and irrelevant issue).
The good news is that Hadopi has been amassing statistics on the system’s use that the Hollande administration can use to make a substantive analysis before deciding what to do next. Some of these statistics were in Walter’s presentation, which I obtained from his office and presented myself at the London conference.
There was some discussion at the conference over the validity of statistics on Hadopi’s effect on online copyright infringement in France. Everyone agreed that these things are difficult to measure with any accuracy. Yet the fact remains that four separate independent research studies showed significant reduction in online infringement in France over the first year of Hadopi, and none of the “usual suspects” (such as the advocacy group La Quadrature du Net) have substantively debunked any of them. Steps against online infringement need to be taken in response to hard data; government’s responsibility includes insuring that the data is the best and most unbiased available, even if it isn’t 100% reliable.
Thanks once again to the Copyright and Technology London 2012 sponsors: MarkMonitor, castLabs, Civolution, PicScout, Simons Muirhead & Burton, and Booxtream. And a huge thank-you to Music Ally, the event producers and as excellent a partner as I could hope for.
Graduated Response in the Post-Sarkozy Era May 24, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Europe, Events.
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Now that Nicolas Sarkozy is no longer president of France, there’s some question about the future of the graduated response regime that was implemented during his tenure in the Elysee Palace through the HADOPI regulatory body. Although it wasn’t exactly the leading campaign issue, government response to online copyright infringement did get highly politicized during the Sarkozy years, to the extent that his opponents built campaign platform planks around graduated response repeal.
As an American, I watched this take place across the ocean with a sense of bewilderment — not only that an arcane issue like Internet piracy would be discussed alongside larger issues like unemployment and the European debt crisis, but also at the seeming political inconsistencies and opportunism that characterized other candidates’ responses on both the left and right.
That’s why I am proud to say that we will have a very timely opportunity to hear from Eric Walter, General Secretary of HADOPI, share his thoughts on his organization and its future at the Copyright and Technology London 2012 conference coming up on June 19th. France’s leadership on graduated response ensures that whatever happens with it under new president Francois Hollande will influence the rest of Europe and beyond. Hollande’s socialist party campaigned on a promise to replace the graduated response system with a system of flat taxes and statutory license; yet M. Walter is still at HADOPI.
M. Walter will provide the keynote speech at the conference and will then participate in a panel on “Policing Piracy” that will include speakers from all sides of this controversial issue. There will be no better place to learn about the future of graduated response than at the King’s Fund in central London on June 19.
Please join us — register today!
C&T London 2012 Conference Program Takes Shape April 30, 2012Posted by Bill Rosenblatt in Events, UK.
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The program for the Copyright and Technology London 2012 Conference, to be held on June 19, now has most speakers confirmed, and I am quite excited about the lineup.
Graduated response is on many Europeans’ minds nowadays. We will have Eric Walter, Secretary General of Hadopi, speaking on the subject. M. Walter was appointed by French President Sarkozy to run the authority for administering the progressive response law that France enacted three years ago — and which many other countries are studying to gauge its effectiveness.
Our Conference Sponsor, MarkMonitor, is working with me to organize a panel on the collection and use of piracy data. The ground is shifting in the piracy monitoring field, from a focus purely on enforcement towards use of the data for business intelligence purposes. MarkMonitor will explore this trend and what it means for copyright owners.
I have been working with Nic Garnett, former Executive Director of IFPI and now an attorney at Simons Muirhead & Burton, on the legal track of the agenda. We have added a panel covering international perspectives on digital copyright, to be moderated by Nic himself. He’ll have panelists from the US, Australia, and continental Europe sharing developments and comparing notes.
We will also have a good discussion of developments in the area of rights registries, featuring representatives of the Linked Content Coalition and the WIPO International Music Registry.
Our speaker roster is almost full, though we have a couple of openings left. (In particular, we’d love to have someone on the skeptical side of the graduated response issue to balance things out.)
In addition, two sponsorship opportunities remain. Please inquire if you are interested in that.