Innovation versus copyright

It’s been hard to avoid the piracy debate this week with the SOPA/PIPA blackouts. Once again, the sheer amount of misinformation is staggering. This was summed up for me this morning by an ill-judged article on tmz which not only breaks Godwin’s law but also basic common sense. The claim that “Both ISPs and search engines are profiting from the raping and pillaging of the content creation businesses” is, assuming it’s not grade A link-trolling (oops I’ve fallen for it haven’t I), tea-party-esque insanity. What most angers me about this article though, and similar responses to the blackout, is the lack of positive vision provided by the incumbent companies who have had ample opportunity to innovate through the cultural changes in media consumption.

In replying to a facebook thread about the article, I wrote this:

“Can we stencil this on the CEOs of all these media companies: “For the millionth time, build a better bloody service.”

People do not value individual pieces of content anymore, but they do, massively, value service provision. Instead of wasting all this time bringing about legislation to restrict innovation that will do nothing less than help bring your business models into the 21st century, just build a better service. There is a massive appetite for the consumption of digital content at a fair price, delivered on demand without restriction so that it can be used on all of the amazing toys from the future that we all own these days.”

See Steam for more details.

The way to get through this “crisis” for rights holders, artists (and I am a signed musician whose work is all over the torrent networks myself) and media distributors is to innovate our way through it, providing a service with value. If the mediacos spent the same amount of money and effort on research and product development as they allegedly do on lobbying and lawsuits, they would find that they have a motivated consumer, eager to spend what little disposable income they have in the current economic climate on quality entertainment, delivered swiftly and conveniently. This has ALWAYS been the promise of the digital revolution and it makes me very sad that we are 15 years into it and are still bitching about our goddamn percentages instead of building better worlds.