Archive for September, 2006

Lessig and Anderson on the Rise and Fall of the Blockbuster

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Luis Villa has a writeup of a debate between Lawrence Lessig and Chris Anderson (or, as Villa puts it, ‘Mr Free Culture‘ and ‘Mr Long Tail‘) at the New York Public Library. It seems to be a pretty interesting discussion about the interersection between Anderson’s argument about the long tail (i.e. that internet distribution renders the blockbuster obsolete and creates instead a mass of niche markets) and the IP issues that interest Lessig.

It’s a shame there’s not (yet?) audio or a transcript of the debate. Some of these NYPL talks do appear to be available online so maybe it will turn up one day.

De-Scribed on User-Generated Content

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

De-Scribed has an interesting post on the question of whether User-Generated Content, (as visible on Myspace, Youtube etc) really represents a new media paradigm:

The fact is that the new media paradigm wouldn’t be possible without an already existant brand-saturated culture. In other words, the vast majority of user-generated content – the volume with which YouTube, MySpace, etc depend upon to maintain some future – is built up around the “branding” of the people involved. Reviews, comments, demonstrations, novelty sneak-peeks, even “what I like” lists… We define ourselves according to what we buy, what we watch and what we listen to, and so our communications, and our “social indicators” (i.e. things that say “who will like me?”) reflect this utterly.

Up to a point I would have to agree with this scepticism, in the sense that a large amount of user-generated content could be as derivative from ‘old media’ content. However I can think of two responses to this. The first, an old media studies argument, is that it doesn’t necessarily follow from the basically parasitic nature of ‘fan culture’ that nothing interesting, creative or original is going on there . Bands and brands (or bands as brands) can be seen as providing contexts for conversations that are not solely defined or limited by those contexts.

The second response is that the fact that user-generated content is both coexisting and interacting with ‘big’ media doesn’t necessarily stop it from representing a genuinely new form of media: new media forms often seem to sit alongside old media forms without entirely replacing them. If the criterion for a form of media to be recognised as radical or a new paradigm is that it be a total break with existing cultural forms and conventions then we could be waiting for a very long time….

British Academy on Copyright

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

It seems that the British Academy, a major funder of UK research, is finally waking up to the risk that the erosion of copyright fair use represents for academic work:

The Academy is concerned that recent developments in technology, legislation and practice have meant that the various copyright exemptions, which enable creative and scholarly work to advance, are not always achieving the intended purpose.


All creative activity builds on the creative activity that has gone before … A regime which is unduly protective of the interest of existing rights holders may therefore inhibit, or even stifle, the development of original material.