Associate Director, Membership Management, Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, MIT
This column in the Boston Globe by John E. Sununu supporting Lawrence Lessig in his court battle with Liberation Music is really striking. That a former Republican Senator would come out so strongly for fair use at the expense of entrenched corporations shows just how far the discussion has come.
Digital technology may make it tougher to protect copyrighted works in the absolute sense, but it also can expose that work to a wider audience than most musicians could have dreamed just 30 years ago… Ultimately, it allows artists to establish successful business models from activity that was once considered copyright infringement.
Today, performers are separated from fans by just a mouse click, and the resulting downloads are easier to audit than the shady music-industry accounting of yesteryear. The new business models are far from perfect, but they’re improving, and they’re putting more power into the hands of creators.
The only losers are the dinosaurs — high-cost music distributors that used to control everything from promotional dollars to the timing of new releases. Although Apple and YouTube are simply new middlemen, they’re also driving the innovation. That’s something record companies should have done themselves. Unfortunately, they were busy monitoring your grandparents for illegal downloads. Some still are. Read more.