Four Pillars: On cricket and copyright and DRM

You should be used to my twists and turns by now. But cricket and DRM? That’s not just any turn, I hear you say.
It’s been a lazy weekend for me, spending time with my family, watching some sport, catching up with some chores, some reading, some listening to music, and the occasional blog post.

[An aside. In some northern areas of the UK, they use the word “messages” to mean chores. They’ve been doing this for a long time. Well before e-mail. How did they know?]

After the disappointment of watching England crash out of the World Cup yesterday, it was with some trepidation that I turned on the cricket after everyone else had gone to bed. Wikipedia entry for the convenience of readers who haven’t come across this glorious game. Would India win the Test and the series in the West Indies tonight, or would they be denied again by resolute tail-enders? Well, Denesh Ramdin nearly pulled it off, but in the end Rahul “The Wall” Dravid implacably led India to their first overseas victory over the West Indies since 1971.

And it made me reminisce. Of famous victories over the West Indies. And 1983 came to mind, when India won the cricket World Cup, after setting the Windies a paltry target. And wandering down memory lane, I remembered watching Kapil Dev score 175 not out, his highest one-day score, to rescue India against Zimbabwe that year, in an earlier World Cup match. He came in when India were 17 for 5, so that took some doing. Amazing innings.

Many years later, I was with some other cricket-loving friends, and the conversation moved to that Zimbabwe game. We were there together. And someone remarked that the BBC had lost the tape of the game, so it had never made it to DVD or similar. Now I think I have a tape of the game, if only I can find it.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Suppose something is in copyright, but for some reason the copyright holder has no copy. Suppose there is only one “copy” in existence. And further suppose there is a lot of time and care and effort that has to go into retrieving and restoring the sole existent copy. Does the owner of the copy have any rights, according to the DRM and IPR gang? Does the restorer have any rights?

If I find the tape, I will give it freely to the BBC for them to restore and to make money from. Naturally. I’d probably expect that they give me a free copy on DVD in exchange, though :-)

The point is, in this particular instance, the copyright holder (BBC) has no copy, the copy owner (me) has no rights, the effort needed to retrieve and restore the copy is high (like wading through a garage of junk for individual videotapes and playing each one in order to find the right one). What will the pro-DRM pro-Mickey Mouse Act pro bad IPR people make of this? :-)
It just made me wonder. Is some of this pushback against digital freedom perversely a consequence of sharply reduced costs of reproduction? When the product is physical, are there some copy rights attached to the copy, especially if it becomes the only one? I remember reading about the great efforts people went to in order to find an original of Moore’s Law in article form. Does Moore have rights to it? Does the magazine? What happens when a title is “deleted”? Can Google make copies of all “deleted” titles? Why ever not, if the title holder has chosen to abdicate?

Just musings. Googlies and doosras.

7 thoughts on “Four Pillars: On cricket and copyright and DRM”

  1. Sorry JP, you couldn’t have a copy of the Ind-Zim match. The reason no one has seen it is that the Beeb was on strike — and the match was never taped or telecast!

  2. It’s lovely the way we strongly believe things that never happened as time goes on, and the imagination becomes the truth.
    Ask any Indian in India if he saw the ENTIRE 1983 World Cup final, and the answer will be a resounding Yes!!
    However, the truth is that no one could have. The live telecast was interrupted by the evening news programme — and we then lived in a country with only one channel.

  3. So somewhere in my garage, moving from house to house, I have a tape of …. nothing. Oh well :-( Thanks for letting me know. There I was fondly believing that I had a tape of the game. But I’d never found the tape, much less watched it. I have looked, sporadically over the years. Now I know not to.

    Reminds me of the number of times I had taped a cricket match, come home to watch it, and then watched hours of the same scene: Rain Stopped Play. In those days we didn’t have a web to go to, or even teletext on TV. So if, like me, you made an effort not to know the result in advance, then the first time you realised what happened was when you kept fast-forwarding and found nothing.

    On your 1983 World Cup Final point, I must admit I believe I saw every ball. But then I was in the UK at the time…

  4. Incidentally I did some further checking. Ram Guha suggests that the BBC did not send any cameras to Tunbridge Wells, not that they were on strike. The days the BBC did strike that year seem to be 23rd May, 31st May, 1st June and 8th June. The match was on 18th June. The only source suggesting that the match was not televised because of a strike seems to be rediff. I guess it is possible that the BBC had a fifth strike day, but the records suggest otherwise.

    BTW Ram also suggests that there was signal loss between BBC and Doordarshan for part of the final….

    One way or the other, it looks very likely that my treasured tape is blank or at best showing the same still picture. That’s why I said “I think I have a tape” … I have never found it or viewed it, I moved house in July 1983…. I guess if there was a bootleg or amateur video, it would have made its way on to eBay by now.

  5. I guess if the copyright holder doesn’t have any copies of his own material, then the restorer should be the rightful owner after certain amount of time has passed. For ex: Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t hold the copyright of Monalisa painting. Many artists have reproduced it.

  6. @brian must there always be a rightful owner in the shape of a single person? can’t ownership pass to the commons?

Let me know what you think

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