Sunday, November 19, 2006

Net Neutrality, Copyright, and brave new (online) worlds

Two really good reads:

- Over at RampRate, they've posted a good paper entited "Every Time You Vote Against Net Neutrality, Your ISP Kills a Night Elf - Why online gaming will be the biggest casualty if ISPs prioritize packets". The title pretty much says it all, as does this line from the conclusion: "Out of all the victioms of the loss of net neutrality, online gaming is likely to be the most fragile and irreplaceable".

- Raph Koster opines brilliantly on the CopyBot meme. CopyBot, if you haven't heard is an open source app for Second Life which creates copies of in-game objects. Since Second Lifers can create AND SELL in-game objects, this open source app has some ramifications upon the in-game economy, to say the least. Raph's commentary is the most thorough and objective I've read so far (though there's too much posting on this subject to have read but a fraction). In it he points out that this is essentially another example of how ALL content is being commoditized and the money of the future is in services. I agree! It also deserves reading if only for the fact that he uses the line "hoist by their own petard", which in my book is deserving of a blogging-pulitzer! :-)

One more thing on CopyBot. Raph's post goes into some detail about client vs server, data streams vs tokenized streams, etc. Bottom line being that the more you stream/store on the client, the more you open up to copy, or 'theft' if you prefer. It'll be interesting whether the solution for copybot (and what's likely to be hundreds of derivatives) is (a) move more upstream to server side - unlikely as current bandwidth requires the 'local cache', (b) commoditization of content and a 'potato famine/gold rush combo' of a move to services - doubtful as the ingame economy may likely collapse before they could evolve the services model, or (c) evolution of some in-game DRM for content combined with an arms race of client-'malicious'-code-detection against the evolving copybot variants.

(c) seems the most likely, and also seems a losing battle. Will be very interesting to keep an eye on this one.  

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