Opinion


"No law can be successfully imposed on a huge population that does not morally support it and possesses easy means for its invisible evasion."

-John Perry Barlow

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John Perry Barlow Writes for Wired Magazine.

Legislation cannot stop the digital duplication and sharing of media. It is not a moral issue: right vs. wrong; more like old versus new old versus new. Digital technology has and will continue to change the way that intellectual property is used. This is not a matter of legislation, but empirical reality. There is no stopping it.


Those who push for new laws to enforce traditional intellectual property ideas have a vested interest. They seek to maintain a profitable business model. Why not develop new distribution models that incorporate the advantages of the new technology, and still have a way for artists to be compensated?


The difference is embodied in the contrast between two producers of intellectual property: Metallica and Stephen King. Metallica was one of the first music artists to sue to protect their work from being shared over Napster. The result was a legal victory, but a PR disaster. In the end, Metallica was seen as going against their own fans. King has been an innovator in digital distribution. He has experimented with releasing stories on the Internet using several different payment methods, including the honor system.


Metallica represents fear of the new and protection of the old and comfortable. King represents innovation and understanding of the inevitable. An artist cannot only be an artist. In the digital age, one must also be part marketing and distribution strategist. But this is not really new. Artist has always had to think about how to survive. This usually means the need for benefactors (the record company, the government, the church . . .). Now there is the potential to cut out these middlemen and have a more direct relationship with patrons.


There is still a gap between what can be experienced in reality, and what can be digitally encoded. This is part of the explanation for why old media continue to exist and even thrive. Sean Carton urges "old-line content companies" to concentrate on selling the experience, not just the content. For those who seek to innovate with new media, it is perhaps more interesting to contemplate not what old experiences cannot be encoded, but what new experiences can be created?

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Sean Carton Writes for Clickz.com.