Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer - Ars

Very interesting article, because it doesn’t necessary go where you’d think, and has reminded me of something we’ve discussed but never really actioned yet due to the complexity involved: how do we handle the issue of commercial infringement of a creative work, especially where that individual is a cash-strapped independent creator?

Definitely something I’d love to discuss more.

What he has on his side is that commercial use of an image is so obvious. It shouldn’t be necessary to spend vast sums pursuing cases like that through courts. Maybe an infringement tribunal could exist with the ability to fine commercial infringers on the basis of a prima facie case with the fine set at the approximate level of a speeding ticket. Commercial infringers could buy a licence or pay the fee and take the image down.

I suspect businesses would spring up who would take on prima facie cases in bulk on behalf of artists. They would get a share of the fees and free the artists to spend time on more important things.

You would need to make it absolutely water tight that fines can only apply for commercial infringement of images.

That’s one of the main reasons I think we haven’t tried to tackle this problem area as well. If knowledge of relevant copyright legislation was a requirement under the Corporations Act, that might be a stick close enough to a carrot to improve compliance with copyright law.

Anything that involves people to enforce it is probably too expensive.
An interesting precedent, is the case of music on radio.
The idea that we can have a pool of money that derives from the operation of the medium and that is dolled out to the producers of the message, in some proportion relative to consumption of the messages.
How might that be made to work here?

Please tell me you didn’t just propose the centralised, member-based collection agency model as a solution.

There’s an interesting discussion of the issues raised by this article over on LWN:

I don’t see any immediate simple solution. Corporate greed has degraded public respect for copyright so badly that these kind of legitimate grievances unfortunately become tarred with the same brush.

Of particular note, is this comment: http://lwn.net/Articles/613319/