Copywrong

I’ve been reading a thought provoking book, the cult of the amateur (subtitle: how today’s internet is killing our culture) by Andrew Keen, which touches on the socio-cultural consequences of the supposed democratization of new media brought about by “Web 2.0”.  As I’ve not yet finished the book, I won’t say a lot about it at this point; it is, as I said above, thought provoking — but in reading it, I do find that I swing between agreeing with Keen on a point and then strongly disagreeing on another.   Often within the space of a page or two, even within a single passage.

At that, I’d still recommend reading it, even before having finished it — whether or not you agree with his conclusions, the points he raises are ones we should all be considering, as they concern more than just new media and “Web 2.0”.

What really prompted me to write was a recent post on Mr. Angry’s blog in which he speaks (in his inimitably candid and refreshing manner) about the hypocritical behaviour of big business toward copyright infringement.  His rant, er, post was prompted in turn by the situation Christopher Knight found himself in, as described on his blog The Knight Shift.

Christopher Knight is an independent filmaker, according to his blog, who created a video for his campaign for election to the local board of education.  In addition to airing the piece on local TV, he posted it to YouTube.  Nothing too unusual in that, in these Web 2.0 days (q.v. Keen’s book).

Where it gets interesting is that VH1, a Viacom show, used his YouTube video in an episode of their show Web Junk 2.0 — without obtaining permission, a clear infringement on Knight’s copyright.

Turns out this was not a problem for him — he was pleased at the exposure, even though Viacom was making a profit off his work.

Where it gets interesting is when he posted a clip, featuring his work, from the Web Junk 2.0 show on YouTube in order to reference it on his blog.  And Viacom slaps him down for… copyright infringement!  Talk about cajones

Evidently, democratization of new media a.k.a. Web 2.0 and money mix about as well as political democracy, old media and just about every other facet of life where big business thinks they can suck another dollar out of you.

When I’m done reading Keen’s book, I may have some more to say about it; even if I don’t, I suggest that it’s certainly worth your while to read it yourself.

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