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Ronan's report

Sunday, 29th November 2009

There's an interesting thread on the board about internet technology and copyright. I've been involved in various aspects of this debate professionally and socially for some years, and one thing is brutally clear – this genie isn't going back in the bottle, no matter how much some people would like it to. For one thing, the hackers are just more tenacious and inventive than the regulators; for every copy protection mechanism or piece of file-sharing legislation, there's an army of very smart and highly motivated people queuing up to break it.

And that's just the first problem. A much more interesting one arises when you start tinkering with access to the tech itself. Internet technology is what allows the Sexyloops community (and uncountable thousands like it) to exist. It allows the members of those communities to share ideas and knowledge in ways unimaginable even two decades ago. The same technology lets us admire wonderful photography, enjoy surreal entertainment and learn important stuff in new and exciting ways.

Like any useful technology – fluorocarbon, combustion engines, cellphone masts – it has its downsides and detractors. Does any fisherman want their closely guarded secrets revealed? I doubt it. Will they live with it so that they can have detailed weather information or up-to-date river conditions? They will (and they'll have to) because the broader benefits far outweigh the downsides. And this is the lesson that regulators have yet to learn; by stifling the usage of internet technology everyone suffers, including the governments that bend over to protect a couple of high-profile industries at the expense of all the others.

It doesn't have to be this way. Many highly imaginative people are finding new ways to preserve the best things about entertainment legally and creatively, and the economic and social possibilities are only just beginning to become clear to us. Do we want to shut those down to keep our politicians in nice holidays? You decide.


(PS: I have Spotify invites! Ask and ye shall receive, but check this first).

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