Uninventing Copyright

The recent hubbub about SOPA/PIPA and MegaUpload have reminded me of the wounded Black Knight in Monty Python’s the Holy Grail, who despite having lost several limbs, continues to fight. Yes, folks, the battle over copyright law is over. Big media lost, and biting at the public’s ankles isn’t going to change their fate.

Last week, I undertook a quest to remove all CDs from my home, adding them to my hard drive for eventual migration to Google Music or some other service. The idea of tossing that collection of hundreds of CDs, which took years and much money to accumulate, would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But this is a new age, the media paradigm has shifted and the value of physical media objects is approaching zero. In fact, if you take just online services like Pandora, the value of a song tied to a piece of plastic is actually a negative value in my opinion. In today’s market, music (and increasingly video) is ubiquitous in the online environment to an extent that the supply variable is off the charts.

I’ve always been one to grow weary of a song after a dozen or so plays. I really don’t understand how someone could listen to a Classic Rock radio station, where you’re guaranteed to hear the same 100 tracks every day for the rest of your life. That reminds me of the Night Gallery episode where the hippy goes to hell and must endure the same track of Muzak for eternity.

Give me serendipity or give me death!

US Bandwidth Consumption:

All of this makes me really question the very premise of the copyright issue anyway, which has been based on the century-long period where music and film were “things” you had to buy in order to experience. If you think about it, vinyl and celluloid were what made commodities of our human desire for melody and stories…those things that had filled our evenings since we were striking sticks together in caves. I can’t emphasize it enough: the commodity of music and drama has been a very brief anomaly in human history.

And that period seems to be fast expiring.

Check out Frédéric Filloux’s article Piracy is part of the digital ecosystem for an interesting analysis of the where the media implosion stands.

I recently finished Jeremy Rifkin’s The Third Industrial Revolution where he explores an emerging future that is much more collaborative thanks to new energy and networking technologies. In his estimation, all information will be free. And it won’t only be media companies that will have to respond to this new paradigm. Researchers, technology companies, governments…everyone will have to change. Technology will make it impossible to make money on ideas in the future because secrets and monopoly can’t exist in a world where everyone can hack everyone else.

Wikipedia and digital commons are the memes of the future.

Anyway, whatever the case, the fact is as I wantonly tossed my last CD into the bin, I can say that I felt liberated. Viva la revolucion!

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