What I noticed in my classmates’ blogs and comments was that people seem to be very skeptical about people’s ability to push back against corporations in areas of copyright. As zad007 commented on my last post, “big corporations think they can bully the individual and with the convergence of media companies buying up all forms of media, it might get worse.” Pull-down requests on YouTube and public lawsuits over filesharing are very visible examples of corporations using their financial resources to protect their assets and, in this way, control the way that people engage with them tactically. What I think is worth pointing out though is how ineffective most of these attempts to control copyright have actually been. Almost all of the stuff on YouTube is copyrighted content, and as soon as one video of a popular song is pulled down, three more emerge. Part of this is that Google is hesitant to crack down too hard because they know they get most of their traffic from people wanting these materials for free, but it’s also a sign of how the size of the public makes it very hard to regulate. And that’s even leaving aside networks like ThePirateBay which have managed to operate outside of corporate spaces for many years, in spite of attempts to regulate them. The number of people successfully prosecuted for downloading copyrighted material is the tiniest fraction of the number of people who actually do it.
The greater danger to a cultural commons is the attempts by these corporations (record companies, movie studios and their parent corps) to change the way the internet is regulated by lobbying governments, especially in Washington; what this represents is an attempt to change the nature of the internet itself in order to protect copyright interests. As of now, there is “space” online to create cultural commons’ by using channels outside of the corporate world (independent mashups and remixes, appropriation, even actual original art) and distribute it through these Guerilla channels, but it is the goal of corporates to strangle this. If this happens, we might see a return to more geographically-concentrated subcultures as in the pre-internet times, mostly in urban areas where physical objects or digital art distributed on more direct person-to-person or group to group basis might constitute artistic and cultural resistance. There isn’t yet as much regulation pending about what people mail/email to each other, so if people adopt a “cell” based structure, like insurgents, it would be harder to crack down on the spread of democratic cultural production.
Other Classmate Blogs*
* these are the ones I commented on because their posts were finished