Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Are copyright organisations, with the media giants who support them, the protectors of the artists? Or are they the destroyers of the media?
This is a question which has gone through many peoples' minds the past 15 years. We'll firstly go back to the origins of the copyright law...
In the time before the internet, producing and distributing media was an expensive business. You had to produce the media itself (which was expensive, and still is in certain areas), then produce books/discs/tapes/papers and distribute those to the shops. You also had to advertise the product, which is still expensive today (using conventional methods). All in all, it was an expensive business.
To protect their business, the authors urged for copyright laws already in the 19th century. In the 20th century, copyright laws were finally enacted and strengthened. Firstly, works were protected. Later on, copyright organisations were established by the media industry (which was now a large industry). These copyright organisations pursued stronger copyright laws, to protect the media industry. This led to things like rent seeking.
Once the media industry was mature, and dominated by several giant corporations, the conditions for artists went downwards. The giants decided who would become famous, and who didn't. Still, producing media was expensive, so it was a legitimate reason.
Then came the internet. At first, people saw it as a niche thing. It wasn't worth investing into. This changed when the internet became mainstream during 2000-2010. Many people discovered the power of youtube, filesharing and other things. An entire generation has grown up with these things by now. It's deeply embedded into their culture.
Still, the media industry didn't want to adapt. Yes, there are things like spotify & iTunes, but these are still largely dependent of the large media corporations. Independent media groups and artists, who had trouble before the rise of the internet, could now easily make themselves known to the public. This was a thorn in the eyes of the large media corporations. Their monopoly was broken.
Their answer to losing their monopoly? An even harsher reaction to the people and small artists than before. They even resorted to acts which are on the border of what is allowed within the law, possibly even crossing that border!
This has caused much anger at the masses on the internet. Many organisations have risen up to combat the war being waged by the large media industries. Some do it by the democratic ways (Pirate Parties), some through lobbying, publicity and advising (Bits of Freedom, La Quadrature Du Net, Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc.) and some resort to activism, sometimes in a more harmful way than the other (Anonymous).
This might lead to the downfall of the large media industries, but it isn't too late yet. If they manage to adapt to the realities of the information society, they might still have a chance. Currently, the media giants abuse both the consumers and the artists. It's time that they use more ethical and fair ways to achieve their profits.
The strongest will not survive. It will be the most adaptive to change who will survive. - Darwin.
About the author:
Roberto Moretti is a Dutch IT student, blogger, activist and is active at the Dutch Pirate Party. He blogs often about copyright-related subjects.
Many thanks go to Samir Allioui for writing a blog here and here (in Dutch) which has been the main inspiration for this blog post.
This blog post is licensed under the Creative Commons license. Sharing and using parts of this blog is allowed, as long as you give credit to the original author (Roberto Moretti). Images taken from deviantart. Please keep the filenames, in order to give credits to the original artists.