UnivAcc - Philosophic > Media Vs Internet

Media Vs. Internet

In a New York Times article, Dodd Calls for Hollywood and Silicon Valley to Meet, we find this incredible statement:

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Dodd said he would welcome a summit meeting between Internet companies and content companies, perhaps convened by the White House, that could lead to a compromise.

Of course, people who have actually been paying attention to all that has been going on lately know better. Consider the mess of SOPA and PIPA legislation; Blackout Wednesday when big names like Craigslist, Google, and my own former employer the Wikimedia Foundation participated in a "strike" against overreaching copyright legislation; and the fact the people occupying the White House felt so much pressure of public sentiment that a response to a "We The People" petition actually sounded like it had a passing resemblance to something meaningful for a change.

Consider the words of TechDirt writer Mike Masnick:

Sure. He'd welcome it now. Where was he three months ago when a group of entrepreneurs in the tech sector offered to sit down and meet with him? Where was he just a few weeks ago, when Senator Feinstein tried to set up a meeting between the tech world and Hollywood -- which Hollywood rejected, claiming that it didn't need to meet with tech companies, because it had this bill sewn up tight?

Everyone who is paying any attention at all, and is not a backwards-thinking Big Media representative or "useful idiot" -- to (possibly mis)quote the quotable, if not very admirable, Vladimir Lenin -- knows that Dodd's stance in calling for meetings is nothing but spin, posture, and hypocrisy (and perhaps some desperation).

The single most important point here, though, has nothing to do with meetings, hypocrisy, or even the legislation itself. All of these things are symptoms of a deeper cause. Even the fact that cold-blooded efforts are being pursued to essentially destroy vast expanses of liberties traditionally enjoyed and proudly hailed by US citizens in the dying throes of the leviathan that is the collective of Big Media is only a symptom of something else.

The root cause of all this is a petty, pathetic, deeply troubling out-of-touch worldview that reinforces itself through confirmation bias and fear of progress. The key phrase in the quoted statements is something whose meaning most people probably never stop to consider, in all its implications, as they read it:

meeting between Internet companies and content companies

Think about that for a moment. Are we not in the twenty-first century already? We have had a publicly accessible Internet for thirty years now! It may be longer, depending on your definitions. While it was nowhere near as convenient and widespread as it is now, there have been filesharing protocols active on the Internet for pretty much that entire time; about fifteen years ago, filesharing across the Internet had already become essentially the second Gutenberg press. Speaking of which, Project Gutenberg was founded forty years ago by the late, great Michael S. Hart. Where the hell has Big Media been all this time?

In 1982, when the technology for peer to peer filesharing was just beginning to become a broad public resource, the MPAA's Jack Valenti (ultimately to have served as its autocratic Caesar for 38 years) was still fighting the "savagery and the ravages" of the VCR in congressional hearings -- a technology that would ultimately become the basis of the single biggest revenue source for MPAA member corporations. How behind the times can they be?

Let us return to that deeply, subtly troubling phrase for a moment:

meeting between Internet companies and content companies

The problem here is that content companies -- companies dealing in movies, music, and text -- are Internet companies. Wait, no, that is not quite right. Let us try again.

The problem here is that content companies should be Internet companies. These dinosaurs of progress obstructionism should have had a meeting with themselves and accepted a role as thriving, forward-looking Internet companies themselves. What exactly do they think they are going to accomplish by fighting the Internet, the single most powerful tool for distributing their content that has ever existed?

Instead of profiting from opportunity, they are fighting it. When opportunity knocks, they open the door, but only to unload a shotgun at the guy standing on the other side of the threshold. They are shut-ins, hiding in their basements while trying to stop the passage of time, "conservatives" to a degree no politician of any party has ever managed to achieve.

I think that Big Media, by way of the fight for SOPA and PIPA, and by way of collaboration with a US Department of Justice trying to extradite British subjects who broke no British law, has driven the first nail in its own coffin. Oh, sure, it has been in decline for a long time, but the point where there is a popular public revolt via the Internet -- the very tool it so desperately fears, and so desperately needs to keep itself alive -- is probably the point of no return.

By attacking the Internet, the Big Media collective whose business model has been on life support for decades now has pulled the plug on its own iron lung. It is only a matter of time.

Good riddance.

written: 2012-03-23

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