Camen Design

c share + remix

The Theft of Creativity

HTML5 makes adding video and audio content to your site very easy but there is currently no way to protect that content. If we’re all completely honest we know that content protection is still a big deal for record companies, movie studios, and TV channels, yet HTML5 puts their content just up for grabs.

Stealing content was never easier than with HTML5

You know what’s so fundamentally wrong about this viewpoint? It’s the same thing we’ve heard over and over again from the RIAA and MPAA — using content in any way that they don’t approve of is ‘stealing’.

According to them, downloading a video to view it offline is stealing — a punishable crime protected by law. Converting, or transferring the video to any other device you own so you can watch it is a crime. Accessing the video through an alternate piece of software for accessibility purposes is a crime (despite not being a crime in reality).

Speaking during the closing session yesterday at the Independent Games Summit, Notch dismissed the notion that piracy is the same as stealing, or ‘looting’ as incoming MPAA chief Chris Dodd framed it this week.

Piracy is not theft, he said to those gathered in San Francisco. If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world.

There is no such thing as a ‘lost sale’, he added with a philosophy so Pirate-aligned it could be happily transcribed directly into any of their press releases. Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?

Piracy is Theft? Ridiculous. Lost Sales? They Don’t Exist, Says Minecraft Creator

What Adobe are not seeing is that if you put up barriers between customers, you then have to maintain those barriers when customer demand breaks them down.

Look at Minecraft. It has completely rewritten the rulebook on releasing a game. If any big game company had made Minecraft, it would have never been seen or heard of outside of company walls right up until beta, at which point only select games journalists would play it, and then many moons later the public would finally have access to it in a severely restricted form (Disc-install, DRM, no server, Windows only).

The size of the community that surrounds Minecraft is just mind-blowing. The things people are building. Look at all the mods — some of which have been rolled into the official game. All of this even without a mod API yet (the modders wrote their own to begin with), which has forced Mojang to prioritise providing an official mod API, and even then very few games actually have an official mod API to begin with! Community driven innovation is outpacing the developers.

The success of Minecraft’s mods, and the extra community they have driven, is a product of Minecraft’s source code being visible to all—it’s written in Java. Anybody can look at the source code of Minecraft. This doesn’t imply that they own it and can re-sell it, no more than I can download a Flash or HTML5 video and claim it as my own, but that because users have been able to express their right to fair use they have gone and created more marketing, more content, more value than a closed model could have ever, ever generated—with an advertising budget of $0.

Though I use Minecraft as an example, Minecraft is obviously not HTML5, but in reality the Flash vs. HTML5 debate is missing the principle, it’s about restricted vs. unrestricted. Minecraft is made by a developer who believes users shouldn’t be restricted. Notch could have made Minecraft in Flash, and now that WebGL specification has been completed and Google Chrome and Firefox 4 are supporting WebGL, Minecraft could conceivably be made in HTML, and certainly plausable in a couple of years time.

I have no hesitation to think how many more mods and creations there would be for Minecraft if it were written in HTML and JavaScript — a much lower barrier and far more portable and mashable than Java. With in the next few years there will be a runaway success indie game and it will be written in HTML and JavaScript.

Adobe, understand this before you try to sell HTML5 creative tools to creative people: HTML5 and openness enables creativity in unexpected forms and places. It isn’t about protecting “content”, it is about allowing creativity. Flash can only create closed results regardless if the developer wants that or not, but HTML5 forces the hand of developers who want to be closed to be open, and more importantly, allows people who want to profit from an open and inclusive development model of their game, to do so.

You are selling closed tools to create a closed platform for closed content and it only acts as a bottleneck to the customer base and ultimately, to profit. The fact that HTML5 doesn’t have protections is because it’s not trying to be like you, it’s trying to be the opposite of you. You are not the model to follow, you are not the custodians of this platform, you are one of its patrons. HTML5 is bigger than you and your business model, Adobe. Don’t tell us how we should be using it.

Profiting from content was never easier than with HTML5.