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You like to talk about the "sharing economy." Can you explain that and why you think it's important?
Ito: I think that a lot of sharing is being and will be hampered by laws and technology, and things like DRM (digital rights management). Part of it is about the business of helping people share.
Like Flickr, Google and Second Life. It can be shown that many times in the past, services like Minitel or Delphi thought people wanted to consume produced content. But when they rolled out their services, it was the communication and sharing parts that people used the most.
The idea of the "sharing economy" is to show that "sharing" isn't about being a communist or taking value from the economy and giving it away. But it's important to think about how sharing can help the economy and how hurting sharing can hurt it.
Having a market-driven component of a socially important position is always good. When electric vehicles were first introduced, all of the car companies tried to discredit it and stop it. But when the first EV1 trials in California showed that people liked them, the car companies started developing full-speed and we didn't have to argue with them anymore.
Harpo Geiger (CNET News.com reporter Stephen Shankland) asks: You're on the board of the Open Source Initiative. How big a problem is the profusion of open-source licenses?
Ito: Some say that there are over 500 open-source licenses. There is a group working on the issue of license proliferation, which is a bad thing. Various companies and groups are now buying into this idea, and Intel, for instance, has deprecated their license. We still need to do a lot of work. But as you can imagine, there is a lot of emotion and ego involved in the licenses, and getting people to give up their vanity licenses and stuff is quite difficult.
lIHd Sellery (from the audience) asks: I would like to ask if Joi thinks traditional copyright as articulated in much Western legislation is outdated?
Ito: I think copyright is outdated. Basically, copyright in the physical world is a very limited thing. It doesn't affect you showing someone a book, how you read a book or how you sell a book you own because it involves only making copies which used to be expensive and cumbersome.
On the Net, every time you view a Web page, you are making a copy, and every activity that involves content involves a lot of copying and mixing of stuff. This screws up copyright but also allows copyright to significantly screw us up by extending the ability of copyright to influence and control a significant portion of our online activities just because every step we take, we are "copying" something.
Creative Commons is trying to work inside of the current copyright regime to provide choice and show people the value of sharing and do what we can.
Spin Martin (from the audience) asks: What do you think of the recent comment by the head of Sony Worldwide (Studios) saying that the strategy for the PlayStation 3 is inspired by Second Life: user-generated content?
Ito: I think there is a recognition of "consumer-generated content" as a phenomenon. But it's sort of fake sharing--fishbowl sharing--that is happening. People will start trying to make products that appear to allow you to share and create, but within boundaries that are created to protect the content makers. Like rides in Disneyland.
And while they may be better than before, I'm not sure whether big content companies will really "get" user-generated media and stuff. The good thing about Linden Lab is that some of the people there definitely understand and support user control, the basic idea that you can hold demonstrations here and force Linden Lab to change rules and stuff. This is the sort of stuff that scares companies but shows people who "get it" that the users are involved.
Rik Riel (from the audience) asks: Is the game industry consolidating like the movie, TV and radio industries? What can be done to ensure a diversity of gaming companies and developers?
Ito: Well, while I love WoW and think that Blizzard has a great thing going, they really don't understand or seem to care that much about the rest of the Internet. There is no API (application programming interface), nor any integration of lots of things that could make WoW explode to another level. And I'm not sure they could control it enough to retain the asset that they have if they did that.
WoW can only evolve so fast. There is a great opportunity for Net-savvy game companies and start-ups, I think. The game developer world has been isolated and separated from the Net community and is sort of a parallel universe. And I think EA and Blizzard still don't really "grok" the Internet. On the other hand, I think most Internet entrepreneurs underestimate the difficulty of making a good game.