Pondering points for the day..

 

Scratching my head on these views, and by the way, the picture of this white board was taken using Evernote's document camera mode.isnt she beautiful? 🙂

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How Free Flow of Copyrighted Information via API culture, brings Positivity and increased benefits in a Globalized World?

In an earlier post, I had spoken about how ‘Free Flow of Text information’ via various pipes in the Internet, through API based Authentication was extremely beneficial to all players in the Ecosystem. Most of the information in that example was Text, and although a large portion of the Text was Copyrighted ( others were licensed under Creative Commons), Piracy related abuse of Copyrighted Text published over the Internet from websites ( not from Published Books), are far too few. If at all there is piracy of text sourced from a website, it could be more of a case of Plaigiarism rather than Piracy. 

Now, let us extend that logic further, and see how the benefits of Free flow of Information, even if it copyrightable (Music in this case) and has a larger potential of Piracy, yet by allowing the same information to flow freely via sharing, can create a contradicting Positivity in the Ecosystem. I have localized the context here to a simple example of Tamil cinema, since it is an underlying motif of this blog.

I have consciously written this post here for several reasons.

The understanding of the ‘Free and Share’ culture via API, or otherwise, forms an important portion in the yet to be released book – “Kill The Pirate – The Quest for John Doe”, which will soon be released under a Creative Commons license via this blog, that deals with the challenges that Tamil cinema faces as a Microcosm of overall Global Internet Piracy.

This blog allows me the freedom to share media under a ‘Fair Usage Policy’, even if it is copyrighted, so, readers who read and understand this simple video example will easily understand the context at the relevant portion in the book, and that i may not have the same freedom to publish the media file along with the book, as I have here.

Another important reason is that the Internet has been strongly accused of increasing the quantum and scale of Piracy, compared to the earlier days of Disc Based Piracy. This is very much true, but represents only one side of the picture. But what is seldom spoken about is, that the Internet has also opened up both localized and International markets, which were not accessible in the older Analog and Nascent Digital years, and that possibly explains why some of the 100, 200 crore+ movies made in India, are economically viable, today.

A short understanding of this video helps understand that while Technology over the Internet can also spread piracy, at the same time, it can also bring lots of positivity, and boost sales of the legitimate ecosystem, via sharing of Information Flow.

[ Apologies for the low quality Video File, as I had to downsize the larger HQ video and upload a low Quality File as i did not have enough Bandwidth].

In this video, You can initially see that the FM radio App is turned on and a live Broadcast of a Tamil song is playing from somewhere in the middle. A user who hears this song for the first time, and who likes it and wants to listen to again, may not find it possible, in the old era. This can also be true of users who are listening to music of other cultures and languages for the first time.

The FM radio App has already a built-in API integration with SoundCloud  SoundHound. So, as the song plays, I press the App button, which diverts the live feed into a parallel pipe ( while the original pipe continues playing the song), which takes the feed into SoundCloud’s servers which process the information, this parallel sound is converted into a digital fingerprint which is transmitted into SoundHound’s servers. On processing the information, SoundHound matches the information with its reference files and returns to the user the Meta Data details of the playing song. In this case, it was a song sung by Janaki, composed by Ilaiyaraja and starred KamalHassan.

SoundCloud SoundHound also provides links to YouTube and other places, where the song can be purchased legitimately. The Copyright holder still continues to own the copyright, but the Free Flow of (Copyrighted) information has in this case, made the possibility of converting an unknown user into a fan, and a possibility of diverting him towards purchasing legitimate consumption of Music.

You can also see YouTube’s automated Content ID system in action here –

YouTube's_ContentID_System

How RSS, API and a Free Sharing Culture are driving a vibrant Internet Economy?

For long, Pirates who have supported Copyright Infringment have claimed that Information can no longer be monopolized and monetized through Obsolete Copyright and Patent laws in this digital age, but rather, sharing of information only freely only drives the economy further and is beneficial to everybody through cultural exchange. The copyright Industry may not agree to this theory, but right in front of our eyes, we are living and breathing what the pirates claim. The copyright Industry still continues to live in a closed world, refusing to open out and see reality.

RSS_API_OpenEcosystem

Image credits – All individual company logos were downloaded from the Internet using Google Search. The Face icon and the RSS Clipart were downloaded from clipart.org

Publishing Tools like Twitter and Blogs are easily accessible to anyone and with the Internet itself acting as the main distribution medium, the Internet has made possible for anybody to become a Content Publisher and for Consumers to find their Producers, without any hassles. Using RSS feeds, users can automatically subscribe to hundreds of thousands of such websites, and automatically get updates when each of them individually adds or updates content.

This short personal example demonstrates not only the benefits of free sharing, but also the pitfalls of a centralized monopolized system. Last year, when Google announced that it was killing the Google Reader, it killed not just an application but thousands of services built around the Google Reader API. If Google Reader was the only service, then the entire ecosystem would have collapsed. Thankfully, there is so much decentralization in the Internet, that such a thing would never happen.

Services like Feedly and Flipboard and a few smaller services stepped up to replace the Google Reader. In hindsight it may have been a blessing in disguise for small services like Feedly, which may never have been able to compete with giants like Google Reader. Feedly subsequently developed its own cloud infrastructure and now uses Google’s API for authentication.

So, in the small example shown above. When ever, I find an interesting article on the Internet, I add it to the Feedly Cloud, using a small Web Browser Add-On. From there, I have linked my Reeder 2 Ipad App to Feedly, which downloads my daily feeds offline on my Ipad. From this App, I transfer which ever, I feel necessary for permanent storage into my Evernote Account. As an individual that suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, I use the Voice Dream Reader to import specific notes from Evernote locally into the Voice Dream Reader app which reads out the content for me, automatically, using its inbuilt advanced ‘Text To Speech‘ engine.

There are 2 important aspects here, in this example. It is thanks to RSS, that website feeds can be easily tracked and automated. The Second is a contemporary phenomenon, that is driving tremendous growth across multiple services – Opening out of their individual API’s that can be used as integration with other services. The phenomenon has become so successful that this has led to the evolution of specialist services that link multiple services through API’s like IFTTT ( If This then That.)

The opening out of API represents a modern outlook, which does not fit with what the obsolescent views of the Copyright Industry. From a copyright Industry’s perspective, they wish to block any accesses of information leakage, which they think might reduce their profits. This view of thought positions the producer’s interest first, and the consumer’s next. Modern Internet services think in the opposite direction. By opening out their API, they give other services an opportunity to provide a possible better user experience than their own.This represents the ‘User First, Producer Next’ approach.

For instance, only by connecting the Reeder App to the Feedly Cloud, you can download the articles from the Feedly Cloud into the Reeder App and use it. Since Feedly had its own App, the simplest thing it could have done was close out its API, and force users to read from its own App. This may have yielded short term results, but long term consequences, because if the rest of the ecosystem collapsed, it would take down Feedly along with it. Another prime example of this concept is Evernote. Evernote already has its app for multiple platforms. Yet, it allows other apps to build their own Evernote clients, which could possibly even replace the stock Evernote client, if the user felt that it provided them with a better experience.

This API culture also forces services to remain innovative constantly and compete with their competitors ( although they have symbiotic relationships through their API), rather than fall into a world of complacency and stagnate, thereby providing no value to the end user in the long run, which is something many modern day Pirates accuse the Copyright Industry of doing so.

One can see from the above small example that the same information has flowed through the various pipes, before it reached the hands of the user, only because of the mentality to allow sharing of Information, through API integration. In this process, it has benefitted each entity. The information created by the creators is as much protected by Copyright and Patent Law, as the ones created by big production and media houses. Yet, unlike the former (in most cases), by allowing this information to flow freely, it is creating sustainability for several services that work through this small ecosystem of Information exchange, benefitting the creator, the Intermediaries and the end user, thereby driving Competition, Innovation and the entire Digital Ecosystem forward.