April 4, 2012
Content and the Culture Business: Time to move beyond the rhetorical excesses of the copyright industry and its opponents
On March 30th, the Copyright Clearance Center presented a one-day program titled OnCopyright 2012: Advancing the Creative Economy at Columbia Law School. One of the featured speakers was Robert Levine, a fairly well-known journalist. He was probably invited by CCC to speak because of his recent book Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back (Doubleday (2011). Certainly the person who introduced Levine called attention to the use of phrase "digital parasites" in the work's title. From the book's blurb:
In Free Ride, Robert Levine narrates an epic tale of value destruction that moves from the corridors of Congress, where the law was passed that legalized YouTube, to the dorm room of Shawn Fanning, the founder of Napster; from the bargain-pricing dramas involving iTunes and Kindle to Google’s fateful decision to digitize first and ask questions later. Levine charts how the media industry lost control of its destiny and suggests innovative ways it can resist the pull of zero.
Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is the business history of the decade and a much-needed call to action.
paidContent's Jeff John Roberts reported on Levine's OnCopyright 2012 presentation. "Levine’s words are likely to please no one involved — and that may be a good thing."
Levine called out the industry for invoking loaded terms like “stealing” and “child pornography” as a pretext to obtain draconian enforcement powers. But he also had choice words for those who frame any sort of copyright controls as inherently oppressive.
In practice, this means major content owners should stop trying to pass off legal sledgehammers as scalpels. To be taken seriously, they will also have argue the case for copyright controls without invoking crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, their critics will have to acknowledge that thugs like Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom aren’t paragons of civic expression and that some forms of intellectual property are acceptable.
Quoting from Robert's Time to move beyond ‘sharing’ and ‘stealing’ in the debate over content.
Here is Levine's OnCopyright 2012 presentation. After watching the video, I decided to read Levine's Free Ride. The whole "digital parasites" thing had been too off-putting when I first spotted the book. [JH]