By Stephen Carlisle, Nova Southeastern University
If you read the internet, copyright, and especially long copyright terms are an unfathomable evil. In their eyes copyright “hinders learning, destroys our cultural legacy, hurts innovation and the general public, but most importantly it impedes filmmakers, artists, DJ’s and other content creators that need to be able to build upon the work of others to create new content”. There are lots of dire pronouncements, with lots of invective and insults hurled, particularly at the Walt Disney Company (quote “responsible for one of the greatest thefts in world history”) . Yet as typical with such cyberspace broadsides, there is very little explanation of precisely how this suppression of innovation occurs.
That’s because copyright doesn’t suppress either creativity or innovation. And here’s why:
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In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch (Paul Newman) sits astride his horse outside the same boxcar of the same train he’s successfully robbed over and over. Frustrated by the railroad owner’s ceaseless but futile attempts to thwart the hold-ups, Butch proclaims, “If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him!” Of course it isn’t true, is it? Neither the character nor probably the real Butch Cassidy would likely have given up the life he knew for something as boring as just money.
If you wanted to watch this classic film directed by George Roy Hill right now, you could do so on Netflix or Amazon Prime or rent it from iTunes for four bucks. None of these innovations existed just a few years ago, and those who have repeatedly insisted that they “only use pirate sites because affordable, flexible, online alternatives don’t exist” are starting to sound a little dumb. This is especially true as of yesterday, with the release of a new report by Dr. David Price of London-based NetNames, entitled Sizing the piracy universe.
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It appears that Jaron Lanier is not the only one who is coming to terms with the broken promises of internet hype.
I believed the same lies that you still believe, for a long time. I was in college during the early days of the World Wide Web, and like others, I rejoiced in the incredible access to knowledge it provided, and diversity of thought it promoted. So when I first read in 2008 about how the Internet had a negative impact by narrowing modern scholarship, I didn’t believe it. The Internet was great, and was making us more productive, more creative, and more innovative. That’s what we were promised.
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YouTube’s biggest partners are learning there’s nothing innovative in the exploitation of labor. David Newhoff at The Illusion of More offers this insight…
…the first and most important story is this one about YouTube’s biggest producing partners coming to realize that their revenue doesn’t exactly coincide with increases in viewership.
I can’t say I was surprised to read, “These partners feel that YouTube’s business approach enriches YouTube without making them nearly as wealthy.” Presumably, this is simply a failure of the partners to embrace the new model of “you make product, we make money.”
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