Copyright Laws and the art of Dissembling
If there is one thing at which all politicians excel, it is the art of dissembling. That is how elections are won: promise the people what they want while remaining free to deliver what the powers demand. But despite my absolute understanding of this process, I still get tempted by their dissemblage.
Take Friday’s speech by Neelie Kroes (Les rencontres internationales de la culture, de l’économie et des médias), European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda: it is so full of purple prose that I fear the lady doth protest too much. But it is also seductive. Consider
It is no different in the case of the internet revolution, which is unveiling the unsustainable position of certain content gatekeepers and intermediaries. No historically entrenched position guarantees the survival of any cultural intermediary. Like it or not, content gatekeepers risk being sidelined if they do not adapt to the needs of both creators and consumers of cultural goods…
Just like cinema did not kill theatre, nor did television kill radio. The internet won’t kill any other media either.
By jingo, the lady has a clue! I take this as saying that existing publishers (the current ‘content gatekeepers and intermediaries’ between the artists and their audience) have no God-given right to maintain their position. That suggests to me that Steely Neelie (not my epithet I hasten to add, but I hope she lives up to it) will not simply fold to the rights-holders’ demands to control the internet and criminalise downloaders willy-nilly.
Then experience and reality sets in.
Instead of a dysfunctional system based on a series of cultural Berlin walls, I want a return to sense. A system where there is scope to create new opportunities for artists and creators, and new business models that better fit the digital age. We want to help you seize the opportunities of this age.
In conclusion, let the debate continue. It will be fierce, there are indeed hurdles. But our job is to look past them in order to clear them.
Fine words, signifying nothing. The reality is that Neelie Kroes says nothing at all in this speech, except that she believes in culture. You get the feeling that she could be a breath of fresh air; but there is nothing to say that she will be. So here’s my prediction:
- No politician is going to take on the strength of News Corp
- No Government can take on the combined might of the rights holders: News Corp, Microsoft, Disney, Sony etc etc etc
- The EU, and all of our craven governments, will endorse and ratify the ACTA treaty, thereby confirming and strengthening the ‘position of certain content gatekeepers and intermediaries’
Do not believe a politician. Any politician. Ever. Their purpose is not to serve the people, but to stay in power. And that requires disassembling the truth, so that we believe one thing while they do the other.