Well, those boffins over at Carnegie Mellon University are working on a new kind of collaborative, mobile broacasting they’re calling roadcasting. In a nutshell,

Roadcasting provides a set of methods to transform radio into a community-driven interactive medium. Using collaborative filtering technologies, it enables rich passive and interactive experiences for 'DJs' and listeners in a way that has not previously been possible.

The website explains all and there’s even a demo video for those with a decent connection. What I find interesting about this initiative, is that it’s yet another example of how the ease of copying earned by us through technological progress makes it apparent that society should negotiate a new deal on copyright.

I went to see Richard Stallman at the LSE last year and the way he put it was that we made a deal which was fair in the context of the times. When copyright legislation was first written, it was difficult and expensive to copy documents. In the 17th century, the only way an individual could make ten copies of a book was to write them out by hand or hire a scribe to do the same. Clearly, there was not going to be a rash of bootleg copies of The Leviathan being flogged at carriage boot-sales. So individual citizens agreed to give up a right to something unobtainable in exchange for having improved access to knowledge (access to affordable books).

That was the deal. It wasn’t about protecting creativity or specifically protecting those businesses who would invest in publishing equipment. Ultimately, Stallman’s point is that the deal we made then is no longer fair today. In giving up the right to something easy to do and very beneficial to us (copying) we are getting screwed (I’m sure he put it more elegantly).

Hopefully the growing tide of personally published media will help get a new deal, or at least make some cracks in the old one. (thanks Label:Life)