SOPA/PIPA: A Turn from Old to New Media?

The SOPA/PIPA battle isn’t just about who controls intellectual property, it may also represent a decisive watershed in how people see Old versus New Media.

The struggle is nowhere near over: the IP regime is not dead. But many in the ancien regime are surprised by the vehemence and strength of the uprising.

The New York Times reported that a former MPAA aide, complaining about the massive response of online users to protest SOPA/PIPA, explained,  “The problem for the content industry is they just don’t know how to mobilize people.”

Is that a joke? The “content industry” controls the media outlets! The “content industry” is in the business of influencing people through advertising. And yet, this former MPAA aide complained that the “content industry” just doesn’t know “how to mobilize people.”

Implied is that somehow new media/internet companies have an unfair advantage. Google and Wikipedia can “mobilize” users directly through their sites that people use every day. But what can Hollywood do? Make ham-handed documentaries claiming jobs are at stake, jobs most users don’t have and so don’t care about.

The irony is brilliant. The influence peddlers, once so-called, are at a disadvantage and are enraged. Where are the millions defending their right to watch expensive movies at high ticket prices? Where are the millions demanding to watch more television commercials in order to support expensive television programs? They aren’t there.

But the millions who use Wikipedia and Google daily understand there may be something to defend. The Old Media’s dismissal of their concerns is just another sign that the tide has turned.

For an “annotated” critique of Viacom’s pro-SOPA video, featuring many employees worried about their jobs, watch:

2 thoughts on “SOPA/PIPA: A Turn from Old to New Media?

  1. I’m in the content industry. As a freelancer who writes reasonably high-level ed content and isn’t always attached to a university, I appreciate how well the JSTORs, SAGEs, and others have managed to retain control over their properties. I often need to use those journals and can’t. And I don’t begrudge them that control, though it’d be nice if they allowed me to buy my way in. As it happens, the bulk of my employment this year will come from a museum that, happily, does take IP seriously, and is paying to have me redo the work of a freelancer who plagiarized liberally from all the nicest sources.

    I’d be very happy to see the cops going hard after content plagiarizers, even if it means yanking the plug on a site until the offending content is removed. I’m not sympathetic to Wikipedia’s outrage; anyone who’s posted or edited an entry there knows they have a veritable gray goo of humorless self-appointed content police ready to delete any entry that offends the Wikipedian sensibility. I’m sure they can extend their police actions to deleting stolen content.

    The industry’s not managing to mobilize support because most people have no interest whatsoever in IP. Most people don’t depend on sales of music, writing, film, etc. to support themselves and their families. Least of all academics who are expected to publish, but not to sell. (Indeed academics whose work is popular are still regarded with suspicion by their colleagues.) Which is why the IP industries shouldn’t bother. It’s a losing battle. Go straight to law, and bulldoze the Lessigs of the world while you’re at it. Lessig may be an okay lawyer (I wouldn’t know) but he’s hopelessly impractical as an artist. Has a whole romance about what being an artist is. He’s a consumer and an internet utopian, is all. The utopian part I can get next to, but not at the price of ripping off the people who already forgo real money in order to make the most interesting stuff.

    I don’t mind paying for movies, books, music. Rather I’d say that the beauty of the internet is that creative artists and intellectuals can publish on their own and cut their own marketing deals, rather than relying on megamiddlemen who take most of the profit and can’t afford to be hopeful about the audience’s taste.

  2. Pingback: A Little of this and a little of that~recapping last week~By rj sigmond | Project World Awareness

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