Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Regulating Digital Media

Regulators and politicians worldwide have recently come up with all sorts of attempts and proposals to regulate P2P file sharing, enforce IP rights on digital content, punish unruly behaviour (e.g. PirateBay). So far, little progress has been made:

  • Lots of arguments between stakeholders (see, for example, this from Quintarelli)
  • Little agreement on what the debate is about (this, again from Quintarelli, who's been very vocal about the issue, especially on his Italian blog)
  • ...and very little meaningful progress.
Now Giavasan (via Mantellini) comes up with an metaphor for the whole thing.

After all, when refrigerators became affordable (1927), consumers (families) could access new ingredients, created new recipes, and ultimately had much richer meals at home, while businesses and professionals (such as restaurants and restaurant chefs) certainly had to adapt to the new environment.
  • Restaurant chefs, for example, now publish recipe books (instead of asking regulators to uphold their IP rights over a recipe and try to prohibit everyone else from "copying" it!)
  • Restaurants surely had to diversify their offer: more sophisticated, exotic, or otherwise "special" (instead of asking politicians to ban the use of refrigerators at home!).
Are artists the new chefs, and media companies the new restaurants?

I think so, and maybe artists and media companies would do better if they spent more time researching alternative business models, rather than fight a battle that they can't seem able to win.

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