Daily Archive for Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

TOP 2009 EVIDENCE EXAM question 2

Excerpt of Remarks to RIAA/MPAA Joint Luncheon

… Joel’s supporters have a have a bold vision for the future. They see an open net, an artistic culture of sharing and collaboration, a culture of unbridled creativity and innovation. Beyond this, they see the net as a means of reorganizing and democratizing society; of breaking down centralized power structures and propaganda systems, and of breaking out of outmoded mores and traditions. They argue that existing intellectual property law stands as an obstacle to their imagined future and the benefits it promises.

The fact is that openness, creativity, innovation, collaboration and freedom are all desirable goals. If we are seen as opposing these things, we will lose. Joel’s supporters have framed this as a battle between the future, which they represent, and the past, which we represent. Our challenge is to demonstrate that Joel’s supporters have not set a realistic path for achieving these goals, but that we can.
To do so, we must first be honest with ourselves. Our industry is, to borrow a phrase from social science, “path dependant.” Our options for future evolution are constrained by the inertia of the systems we have developed over the past century. Countless peoples’ time and resources have been devoted to developing this way of creating and distributing art and culture. This is not simply a matter of sunk costs and it encompasses more than just our shareholders, our employees and our artists. It encompasses the local economies of which we are the lifeblood, the human capital, the specialized expertise developed to produce our products, the distribution networks, infrastructure, financing systems, talent scouting and on and on.

What the internet vanguard fails to recognize is the extent to which they too are dependent on this path. We represent more than just a way of doing business—we are the way culture is financed and created in our society. Joel’s supporters believe that we can simply be consigned to the dustbin of history—as if having reached the top rung you could saw off the ladder beneath yourself. They ignore the enormous downside risk to abandoning this path. Starve us of revenue and musicians are not paid, movies are not made, and the engine for cultural production collapses. Without the mass culture we create, there would be no shared experience to forge our national identity; to serve as the glue that holds our society together; to enable us to relate to one another in a meaningful way. Without mass-culture there would be no counter-culture. Without the art we create, what would there be to share, to borrow, to respond to, to remix, and to define oneself in opposition to? Art and information must be, for lack of a better word, commodified in order to be organized and integrated into a coherent social fabric.

Our copyright laws are imperfectly suited to the realities of the internet and must be reformed. However, if we did not resist the virtually unlimited free distribution of our products that is taking place over the internet, we would be bankrupt long before any reasonable accommodation could be reached. Joel’s supporters must recognize that our industry plays a vital role in fueling the creativity of the open net. In turn, we must recognize that the collaborative net culture creates genuine value. Together, we must find a way to harness and monetize this creativity and innovation without dislocating everything that has come before. …