Thursday, December 21, 2006

COPA: More on publication and distribution

There are a few concepts in the previous post that need further refinement.

Publication normally means, making something available to anyone in the public, either for free or for a fair market price, as with a book or periodical that may be purchased in retail or through e-commerce. The concept is still meaningful if prospective purchases are limited by age (for example, to those 18 and over).

There is another sense in defamation law where “publication” means giving information (either verbally, or in writing, such as in print or in an IM or email) to any other person who understands it. “Understanding” is itself a tricky concept, because it can invoke ideas like implicit content and the context provided by known external circumstances.
But the concept that is most important in COPA is the first one.

In the movie business, the roughly corresponding concept is called distribution, or sometimes, release. Most films are produced by companies distinct from the companies that release or distribute them. Movies can have different distributors in different countries and even different distributors for DVD’s. Rapid consolidation is common among these companies. However, sometimes a film producer can organize a theatrical showing himself, or sometimes his own DVD distribution through video retailers. But in that case, of self-distribution, the concept of distribution and production is the same.

Books also have distributors (like Ingram), that fill orders for bookstores and e-commerce outlets. But with books the important concept is publication.

With the web, and with a personal blog, social networking site profile, or even personally owned website, the concept of publication equates to posting the material on the web (through FTP or an interface like Microsoft Front Page, or perhaps through other products like Pust-Button Blogger, EasySite or Image Café).

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