Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Okay, so this isn’t about YouTube. Enough’s been said about it, and the national obsession is starting to get embarrassing. But in a way, everything now seems to relate in some way; regardless, the issue is much larger and snags along a lot in its way. Lemme get right to it: we are living in a universe of media in which the traditional notions of copyright and even hallowed intellectual property are becoming irrelevant.

One could say that Old Copyright is in itself increasingly a form of theft in today’s environment. It might seem crazy to say that, but how do the provincial holdings of hard media not deny a freer, more open nebula of information that “new” media promise? There is a wholly novel understanding of media ownership that escapes the logic of a system struggling to keep up. Print journalism is already dead, for example. Not as in lifeless, but without currency.

Ideas that are the creation of an author still belong to him, of course. No one is taking away what rightfully belongs to anyone; there is no actual piracy when it comes to media/file sharing and associated trends because things like information, and even music, are more a part of the so-called public domain than the holding of barons who make intangible things like thoughts and notes their own. People should give credit where credit is due, and respect basic property rights, but there are natural limits and they have been crossed for too long. Yet, hopefully, things are starting to turn around.

FOOTNOTE: Earlier today, Apple chieftan Steve Jobs announced that the stranglehold of Digital Rights Management (DRM) should no longer be enforced. In “Thoughts on Music,” Jobs writes, “Convincing [the major record labels] to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace” that “Apple will embrace … wholeheartedly.” His message is directedly principally to “Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI,” which “control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music.” It’s a start, so keep fighting.

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