What Did Black Out Protesting SOPA Just Achieve?
COMMENTARY: With everyone and their mother decrying the passing of the SOPA bill, the White House eventually made its presence heard and also spoke out against it.
In an age of quickly accessible information sharing, the Wikipedias and Googles of the world were quick to denounce any moves to restrict the freedom of this information. The fact that original bill supporters are now jumping ship shows the power and influence that these organizations have. It was also a huge PR plus for the “opposers” in light of recent Occupy movements. In taking a stand, Google has aligned themselves with the hip kids, and pit themselves against the mighty machine, even though they themselves are part of that mighty machine.
Let us not forget that however misguided and ulterior motived the actual SOPA bill was, its full title was the STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT. The danger of such wide damnation of this concept, is that those who are the intellectual copyright owners of the material trying to be protected, are being pushed away in favor of the amateur majority who post on sites like Youtube using copyrighted material.
The shift has been towards protecting the part timers who casually integrate other peoples copyrighted work, simultaneously disregarding those who own the material as being elitist or nescient if they don’t comply.
The situation has become discombobulated because the old school elite had it so good in their day, that they are now seen as the enemy to some extent. Meanwhile, the old school, seeing their once booming income being depleted, see progress as the enemy.
The simple fact is the value of content is being so drastically reduced, and the major players response is to cave to this inevitability. Dutifully accepting the fact that music is worth the miniscule amounts that Spotify and other streaming services value it at. The Majors are of course being paid off the top, so the full impact of such a move may not become fully obvious until these streaming companies are not able to balance the books and keep everyone happy.
If this does become the case, has the music industry shot itself in the foot and ruined a perfectly good business model that was under our noses the whole time? iTunes was a hub for legal sales, good returns for the artists, and a widespread and easily accessible user interface. It will surely be hit hard if Spotify takes a big percentage of the market share. Those without high level Spotify deals, the independent artists, will also be heavily affected in this scenario.
Meanwhile people have further been led to believe that music holds no worth, and can be shared or streamed at little or no price. Piracy will remain as prevalent as ever having seen the legal alternative settle so low, and the artists, content owners, and creators suffer even further as they try to cope with ever diminishing returns.
Is it not Google’s and co’s duty to use their same power in vetoing such a bill, to find an answer to the problem. Enabling a system for the copyright owners to earn the money to continue to create the content everybody craves?
Yes we all want to move forward, we all want to embrace new material and new forms of distribution. But if what we make is seen to be worthless and that becomes legally acceptable, what impact will that have to the future of content ownership and copyright control.
Robin Davey is an Independent Musician, Writer and Award Winning Filmmaker. Follow him on Twitter @mr_robin_davey
Image via BuyBackWorld