Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Internet to Traditional Media: We Are Better At This Than You

Those of us who are in our early 30's are part of the last generation who remembers life without the internet. If you did not know, there was in fact a time when there were no email, chat rooms,social networks,youtube, google, wiki, smartphones or downloading. There was even a time, not all that long ago, when traditional media WAS the media. Yet, those days are long gone. Now the internet is at the center for all human thought and creativity. We have also reached a point in which the internet has become better at doing what traditional media used to be the kings of. The internet is now better at, not only creating and spreading media, but also better at making money from all that creating and spreading.

If you are willing to spend enough time and effort on the net, you can make a whole hell of a lot of money. There are countless people making a boat load of cash by creating and spreading their own media. The net has allowed all of us to get a piece of the action. The basics of the net model is actually pretty simple. It has two basic forms. One form is to give all your products and services away for free to the end user. You develop all the products and services yourself and tell everyone to 'come and get it!' If what you are giving away is useful and popular, you generate a lot of traffic pretty quickly. There are also a lot of other people who want to sell their products but lack the amount of traffic you got. So, you sale ad space to those people who want to sell something. In turn, you make a lot of money from ad revenue. Everyone wins! The prime example of this is Google.

The second basic method is to form a partnership with a company or another person. Let's say someone has developed a really cool way to distribute content but they cannot produce all the needed content to drive enough traffic to sale ad revenue. So, they partner with other people to produce the needed content. The partners make a little money every time their content brings traffic. Again, everyone wins. Youtube is the prime example of this.

These two very basic methods of making money on the net sound like something everyone would be on board with; right? WRONG!  There is a big problem with making money on the net which makes traditional media damn angry. The net cuts out the middle man and allows everything to be shared, downloaded and viewed by pretty much anyone at anytime. You no longer have to turn on the TV,  go to the local news stand,go to the CD store, a rental shop or even a movie theater to get the media of your desire. You can get any type of media you want quickly from your fellow net users. There is no way in hell traditional media can match the level of distribution the internet can. Traditional media is dead in the water if the net keeps developing in the way it is now. The outdated traditional media needed to find a way to stop this crazy thing called the internet. What did they come up with? Copyright laws!

The outdated media is now attempting to use their outdated laws to shut down the internet. Sounds crazy but that is exactly what is happening. At first, the old media did not have much success using their outdated laws. Then in 1992 the Audio Home Recording Act came into law(know as chapter 10 in US copyright law).  It did two things: It allowed people to make home copies of copyrighted material and share it between friends. It also required that all DAT recorders to included The Serial Copy Management System; which prevented the end user from making a copy of a copy.  Well, this worked for a while until, of course, people found a way around this. It seems that people were way more creative then the old media thought they were. In 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act came into law(known as chapter 5 subsection 512 of US copyright law). This was the first law used to limit the internet. It was not exactly what old media wanted but it was close. The DMCA made it illegal to store or transmit material which was copyrighted. It also made it harder to use parts of copyrighted material to create something new. Although, it did not make it illegal to share something copyrighted or to provided a link to something which was copyrighted. So, if you stored something copyrighted and transmitted it over the net, your ass was busted. It did not make service providers liable or require them to police which material is transmitted over their networks. Of source, you cannot enforce such a law on the net because the net behaves in such a way which leads to copyrighted material being used in a way which the old media never intended. So, the net laughed and kept on making money using the new internet model.

As the internet continued to evolve and new and exciting ways of creating, sharing and making money developed, the old media damn near had a heart attack. It became very clear that the outdated copyright laws were unable to control the internet. It was even more clear to the internet that the outdated copyright laws got in the way of being creative and cutting out the middle man. Then along comes SOPA(known as HR.3261.IH in the US Congress). SOPA, as most of you know, would finally give the old media exactly what they wanted. It would make it illegal to share, link, talk about or transmit any material deemed to be copyrighted. Also, service providers and websites would be liable for the actions of users. SOPA, as we all know, would kill the internet. There is no way in hell the internet could operate under SOPA. The net has evolved way past SOPA. The framework of the net is not designed to be manage in such a way as SOPA thinks it does. So, the net finally fought back. Major websites carried out a blackout to show Congress, and net users, what a SOPA net would be like. Common since won out and for now SOPA is dead.

Yet, the attack on the net took a very different turn. By way of the UN, another weapon from the old media has hit the net. ACTA(link provides all sections of the treaty)  is now the latest attempt to stop the net from doing what it does best; create, share and make money from the fluid open flow of information without the use of a middle man.  ACTA is being carried out though the UN. Using the UN in this way is a excellent way to by pass the people of all sovereign nations. ACTA creates an international agency to police anti-piracy in several industries including the internet. It does pretty much the same thing SOPA aims to do but without the consent of the people of sovereign nations. And as you might have guessed Obama signed ACTA while giving strong support at the same time. ACTA is the real internet kill switch everyone has been talking about for several years now. A independent agency which answers to no sovereign government would have the power to shut down any part of the internet at a moments notice if a company says a website has something copyrighted on it in any way shape or form. So, many leaders from many nations are signing up for ACTA without approval from their domestic governments. The battle for a free and open internet is not over by a long shot. Until then the internet will keep doing what it does best; being better at doing what the traditional media used to do.     

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