Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest, richest tech corporations in the world to pay for computers, smart phones, data plans, high speed access, ereaders etc, but not to the companies and individuals who create the content itself?
Rockstar and university professor David Lowery is my guest on "Crazy Tuesday", March 5th, and is highly entertaining and quite provocative.
David Lowery makes his point about the shift in social morals with soft spoken, beautifully modulated dialogue:
Networks: Giant mega corporations. We say, "Cool. Have my money!"
Hardware: Giant Mega corporations. "Cool. Have some money!"
Artists, 99.9% of whom are lower middle class. "Screw you, you greedy bastards!"
Why is that? Why does society beat up on the little minority guy, pretend that they are sticking it to The Man, when The Man is Amazon, Apple, Google, PayPal, MegaUpload, Yahoo, Adfly, SocialGo, etc etc?
Why are our morals so skewed that we want to legalize the internet equivalent of looting, because looting is so easy and everyone is doing it? That is what the mega corporation backed "Free Culture" movement is doing.
David suggests an example: He describes a neighborhood or borough in a big city. It's called The Net. It has record stores and book stores and art shops just like any other part of the city, but, because of some antiquated laws, The Net was never given a police force. So, the populace goes into The Net and takes what they want.
They know that taking without paying in this one part of the city is wrong, and would not be tolerated in other parts of the city (where there is an established police force). But, they say that we should all accept that looting is normal, acceptable behavior.
That's not the worst of it, as David Lowery explains. I'd love to be taught by a professor such as him! I'll bet his Music Business course is fascinating. Anyway, to continue....
It turns out that big Phone Tech companies are charging the looters a toll to enter The Net and to get the "free" stuff. Mega Search companies like Google are selling maps (search results) so that the looters can find the "free" stuff they want to loot. Big tech companies such as MegaVideo are selling high speed looting services (premium downloads), and others are selling the internet equivalent of ski masks and other identity-masking services. Google and its competitors are selling advertisements in The Net neighborhood, which major universities, car companies, credit card companies, and more are purchasing and the revenue is shared with everyone except the musicians, artists, authors who created the content that is being stolen and monetized.
David Lowery contributes to an amazing group blog thetrichordist.com where you can follow many eye-opening, gob-smacking articles about the underbelly of the internet, and you can participate in some effective initiatives to bring about more fairness.
One final thing. The most surprising and encouraging factoid that David Lowery revealed in the hour long interview is that, despite what we might believe, speaking out against copyright infringement does not harm the careers of those who speak out. He's a mathematician. He has done a study. And, standing up for yourself does not hurt. In his experience.