The Copyright Wars
I hope that we look back on the issue of how we handled copyright with bemusement and shame.
The trend seems to be turning a knee-jerk response into a range of all-powerful legal super-powers. A great example of treating the symptom while remaining stubbornly oblivious to the cause.
In days gone by, people of my (old) generation would copy records to tape, make compilations, lend trusted friends our records and even buy and sell second-hand records.
Today I could choose to share my music not just with my friends, but with the whole world. The scale has changed enormously.
In days gone by I could sell or give away my unwanted books, and as a teenager probably owned more second-hand books than new.
But I can’t share the many books that are on my Kindle, nor can I pass them on to someone else when I’ve finished with them. And there’s even a chance that something I paid for will one day no longer be available on my device.
If we address crime in our cities by building ever more sophisticated security systems for our homes, and choose to ignore what’s happening beyond our walls, we risk turning our homes into fortresses and eventually into prisons.
We’re not going to save the software/music/book industry by punishing existing users, or by stamping down on the people who facilitate the crimes. This is as ineffective as criminalising drug use and stamping-down on drug dealers.
The industry needs to accept that a profound change is long underway, and momentum of this scale cannot be stopped or ignored. You can choose to either adapt and flourish or resist and disappear.