2007: On the Horizon

After my 2006 predictions turned out to be such a mixed bag, I am almost loathe to make ones for 2007. I am now more aware than ever of exactly how unpredictable this can be.

Still, if for no other reason than amusement or to aid in putting 2007 in perspective later, I’m going to give it another try.

So, the same as with last year, here are seven predictions for what we should be on the look out for in 2007.

Content Licensing Grows Up: The stage for this was neatly set in 2006. With new content licensing services spreading their wings and more bloggers/Webmasters starting up every day, content licensing is going to play a bigger and bigger role on the Web. Though much of it will be in the form of Creative Commons Licensing and open source licensing, some of it will also be in the paid format. By the end of 2007, there will probably be an established front runner in this field, one that will make at least a decent business off of being a content licensing middle man.

Copyright Tools Get Smart: Right now, copyright detection tools are pretty dumb. They see copy, they report copy. However, this leads to frustration for those who allow some copying as it results in a large number of false positives. Hopefully, 2007 will be the year that tools get smarter and will be better able to detect usage and enable users to only focus on violations of licenses. This will largely be spurred on by the aforementioned growth in content licensing.

More False DMCA Notices: Michael Crook will be in good company soon. By the end of the year at least one other instance of false DMCA notices will have captured the public attention. Whether it will be an honest mistake or malice on the part of the sender is a question that can’t be answered.

Hosts to Rethink DMCA Policies: With the problem of false DMCA notices on the rise, it seems likely that hosts will, sometime in 2006, start to rethink their DMCA policies. To some degree, this seems to already be happening but the process will garter more public attention in the new year. Some hosts may even make their procedures public knowledge. Furthermore, it seems likely that international hosts, in particular Canadian, will become more popular with Webmasters that feel that they are in danger of being hit with such a notice.

Lawsuit Outlook: In the two major content theft/DMCA cases going on right now, the Michael Crook and the Perez Hilton cases, the outcomes are pretty foreseeable, but the when is a much bigger question. The Perez Hilton case will likely be over before 2008, probably sooner rather than latter. It will most likely be ended with a mutually beneficial settlement that only tweaks the status quo. The Crook case, however, will likely be dragged on well into 2008. Though the outcome is certain, it isn’t likely to reach a satisfactory conclusion within a year due to Michael Crook’s admitted stalling tactics.

Legal Tide Turns Against RIAA: Though not directly related to the issues discussed here, the legal tide is going to slow down for, if not go completely against the RIAA. Having already lost the battle for the heart of the public, the RIAA is going to suffer more than a few defeats in the courtroom in 2007 as well. Though it’s unlikely that the RIAA lawsuits will stop, the victories will become fewer and more costly, possibly to the point where the RIAA has to rethink their strategy.

UGC Revolt: Though it won’t be a major surge or even, necessarily, an all at once event, users that generate content for the current crop of Web 2.0 sites will likely have begin to demand some payment or recognition for their services. In short, as these companies turn larger and larger profits, their biggest users will start asking for some kind of compensation. Charities such as Wikipedia will sidestep this issue, but it’s only a matter of time before for-profit UGC-based companies have to content with irate users wanting a piece of the action.

Conclusions

2007 Looks to be a promising year. There’s many exciting technologies on the horizon and many issues appear to be at a tipping point. The stage is effectively set for a very wild ride.

Though I hope that the year is one for level-headedness, intelligent debate and sensible reform, history seems to speak against that happening.

With so many things changing though, perhaps that can be the greatest breakthrough of the new year, letting cooler heads prevail. For the dialog isn’t just about artists, file sharing and spammers, it’s about the future of culture and information.

If we’re smart and keep a level head, everyone can come away a winner. If we make snap judgments and go down dangerous paths, the damage might never be repaired.

 

Tags: Content Theft, Copyright, Copyright Infringement, Copyright Law, Diehl, DMCA, Michael Crook, Plagiarism, RSS, Spam, Splogging, Splogs, UGC, Web 2.0, 2007

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