The two articles this week seem to have opposite viewpoints. Ham and Atkinson’s article addressed the fact that technologies are created faster than the laws that govern them, which has been a common theme in our recent readings. With amendments to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, they assert that the market for music can indeed be a market again, instead of the anarchy that napster presented. The two guys who wrote the piece assert that creator’s rights to their creative property gives people incentive to create. This makes sense- if your work will just be pirated you have less incentive to create.
But Bailey’s article says kind of the opposite- that when more works are in the public domain (and they’re easily accessable), they enrich our culture. This also makes sense to me, because it does seem like big media is manipulating the law to earn more money and to increase their control over media distribution.
I’m not sure what stance I’d like to take on this issue. I enjoy getting free stuff from the network, but I also don’t like stealing. I have indeed grown up with the belief that “consumers should not have to pay for music at all, that the very concept of intellectual property should go the way of the horse and buggy.” But in the end, for the good of myself and for the good of the long-run state of the internet, we should err on putting more content in the public domain, imposing less controls over content, and generally giving more rights to users.
I don’t like the dangers of stronger copyright, DRM, and weak net neutrality. The internet is still an untouched, virgin landscape, and I see big business trying to put up ugly, confining structures and consume all its resources on their road to profits. I feel we do live in a decisive time where if politicians are swayed sufficiently by media companies, we could all experience a dearth of (legal and illegal) free content, which we have grown so used to and which we have based our fascination of the internet upon.
There is an argument that net neutrality could be a good thing. We all use google anyway, and if the ISP’s give special preference to google then it could even serve us better. The same may be true for youtube or any other number of popular sites that everyone uses anyway. In the long run, however, I don’t think this is good for the advancement of the internet and our culture. New, innovative services or websites that could become very popular or useful would not be able to find success if the bandwith of the internet was taken up by a few giants. If weak net neutrality were to happen, we would be resigning control of the internet, this beautiful, unlimited frontier, to a few giants, and then they alone would be responsible for defining and addressing the needs of internet users. I find that quite dangerous; akin to publishers holding such a strong influence over defining the sphere of legitimate debate during the era of newspapers. The problems would be what they defined them as, and we would have to use their solutions or their applications, even though they may not be the best ones or the ones that we need the most. With more lax copyright policies, perhaps freeware would be a more democratic way of seeing what software people need and then addressing that need through peer to peer creation.
So we need file sharing services, because there are plenty of legimate and even essential uses for them. I hope lawmakers recognize this, as well as the need for an increased public domain, so that users can keep their power over the internet.