Friday, February 17, 2012

About #entertainment, #copyright and #representation

The American entertainment industry is struggling to increase its margins. This is done on the basis of "ownership of the industry". Read this Politico article for an update on how they want to sway your opinion.

There are several things in their approach that upset me. They call Wikipedia a company and by doing this they deny the existence of the community that created the wealth of knowledge embedded in our projects. The Wikimedia Foundation is like them, not an organisation that creates content but an organisation that represent those that do... with one stark difference; it is not business the WMF represents but people.

In the Politico article, it is said that putting the "stars" in the limelight of their campaign may hurt their value. It hurt Metallica in the past and it may hurt others in the future. This is in stark contrast with what happens when content is not an "industrial product". Our community does have people able and willing to explain the value we represent to our world. Its true value can be measured  for instance in our traffic statistics for Wikipedia or in the CD's and books provided to schools all over the world. We do not complain when people reuse the content of our Wikis, we know it increases the number of people our content reaches. When it does, it eventually has more people come to us directly and contribute. The same mechanism works for the industry; the people who are branded as "pirates" spend most on industry produced content.

The RIAA and the MPAA are proud to be American; it is in their name. This begs the question if they represent the industry as a whole or only American companies. When what they propose is implemented, it will affect the Internet negatively and it will have its effects beyond the US border.

Compare this to the WMF; it is proud to support over 280 language communities. It provides infrastructure to all of them and it will welcome even more people and even more languages. The people it enables are industrious and they provide the world with the quality content they create. They do not need "industry representation" to make it useful or valuable. Sadly it is the distorted message of how industry is represented that makes it necessary to waste time, effort and emotions on what should be a non-issue.
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