Live From AES

Chiariglione Champions Open Access

by Margot Douaihy

Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione, Telecom Italia Lab's vice president of multimedia, commenced the 113th AES Convention with a rich and unprecedented speech supporting open access to protected content. Introducing attendees to his delivery network for the first time, Dr. Chiariglione outlined key precepts behind widespread sharing of protected materials. "The problem is this: Content is art, and it should be considered art," he said. "Six billion people have six billion ideas." He continued to say that the only solution to trademark fraud and piracy was to engender a system that rewards music labels, musicians and consumers equally.

Dr. Chiariglione's proposed system relies on standards that allow the production of protected audio with access available to any user who obtains the rights. He asserted that his system was not a "free to all" system, rather, a delivery network trading paid content rights for unfettered access.

"The future doesn't stop today," he stated. "Art must not stop today. We need to produce a way for artists to benefit from art to keep making art. Let's make technology and content friends of mankind. Unless people get value from their art, they can't make it. All artists should have means to produce their art and receive remuneration."

In coda, Dr. Chiariglione paid homage to John Lennon's ballad, "Imagine." He said, "Let me have a dream. Imagine no blocking technologies. It's easy if you try...Imagine six billion people sharing content."

Clearly, not all attendees agreed with the keynoter's vision of a shared network. During the Question and Answer segment after the speech, various attendees questioned the feasibility and solvency of technology enabling content sharing. Tension in the packed room came to a head when one audience member challenged Dr. Chiariglione's plan. "It just can't work, and it won't work," stated the attendee from the floor microphone.

The other half of the audience, however, appreciated how the keynote sparked healthy debate. Professor Al Shapiro, of the New England Institute of Art & Communications based in Brookline, MA, was one of them. "It is about time," stated Professor Shapiro. "It is about time that we as an industry opened our minds to this approach. There are ways for the industry and musicians to make money. It's about time."