Posts Tagged ‘Robert Levine

Information Policy and The Red Herring of a Media-Tech Industry War

In an article published earlier this year, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Sandra Braman defined “information policy” as positions and practices that concern the creation, processing, flows, access and use of information. The term certainly includes content, much of which is subject to protection under this nation’s Copyright Act, and the telecommunication pipes through which that content travels. Given this definition, it easy to see how businesses regulated by copyright and telecommunications law enjoy a synergistic relationship.

The Internet’s public availability in the early 1990s did not fundamentally alter this information policy landscape. But the Internet, along with simultaneous developments like unprecedented personal computing power, did make it possible for non-traditional actors to create, send, access and process significantly more copyright-protected information through increasingly faster telecommunication pipes. The rise of this non-traditional class also has spawned new businesses like Google (including its YouTube subsidiary), Facebook and, while encouraging or forcing traditional actors to evolve into new businesses (such as Comcast, a telecom company, buying NBC-Universal in a merger that was completed earlier this year).

Despite the historical and continuing synergy between copyright and telecom, there has been a recent, aggressive line of thought that argues these non-traditional entrants into the information policy landscape have grown powerful by free riding on the works of large corporate copyright owners. This argument arose during last month’s Governance of Social Media workshop at Georgetown, which Michigan State University’s Quello Center helped sponsor. The argument also manifests itself in Robert Levine’s new book, Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying The Culture Business, and How The Culture Business Can Fight Back (2011, Doubleday).

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Written by Dr. K Matthew Dames

07/01/2012 at 09:36

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