Content may be king but pirates could become prints in waiting.....

Electronic books simply don’t engender the cultural kudos or commercial mysticism that bootlegged ¼ inch audio tapes once did. Popular concert footage, with polystichous protrusions of photographically challenged would be videographers pointing multi megabyte camera-phones in the general direction of stage singing stars, is widely distributed long before the official tour editor ever eyeballs a frame – what a shame?

There’s no longer the need to freeze on O Connell Street bridge and hide the cough filled copies behind the button badges and reggae scarves. Modern mobile footage, lacunae like(ly) – leaps instantly across networks, dispensing with the need for mediation – its stored digitally, and goes from one device to the other below or beyond any human monitoring thresholds, as data, raw numbers, bits and bytes, via switches, hubs, routers and propriety cellular networks, it can be tracked and traced electronically but very seldom is. Only when such stuff garners mass attention are there more outcries and weeping than in a Johnny Depp death scene.

The idea that Digital Rights Management debaters and electronic book enthusiasts should jump into the school yard fight between the increasing irrelevant behemoth like record labels / old world media companies (from the push era) and the increasingly powerful telecoms and infrastructure providers (of todays pull paradigm) seems utterly futile, and like any school yard fiasco, its either the innocent bystanders or members of the cheering mob who end up getting the detentions. I, like others spend such times playing conkers in the corner, amusing myself and others with stories about sizes of those conkers that just eluded our reach… and other tales about pieces of string.

Oh to live in a stable meritocracy, to freely share and remix information or data, to be part of a society that engenders trust, confidence, opportunity and non judgmental optimism, erm no thanks actually, our growing and evolving little imperfect world is exactly that, imperfect and ours – meaning that we are going to have to learn how to deal with these ugly spates and argument about new things, evolving situations, ambiguous concepts, learn to accept certain opinions that we don’t particularly want to agree with or endorse but at least acknowledge the rights of every side – let them fight over there if they want, but make sure they know each other, that is an element of the current flaws in the structures of these ‘ownership debates’ – its all about us, our stuff, our profits, and the fact that those pirates take all that away – for free. By the rules of rights management Coldplay paid somebody to be allowed to play this song, who ?.. because, like him, love or loath him, the guy that made it famous is now dead... so he wasn't paid.

However grinding corporate PR machines ensure that any thirteen or fifteen year old using file sharing technology to send his/her mate(s) their favorite song, clip, album, purchase, photograph, media, whatever really, and a boat full of amoral, greedy, kidnapping, extortionist , killers should share the same ‘label’ as 'Pirates' – If you give someone you know a secondhand book – the prevalent storage technology of the last five hundred years – gosh look at the huge explosion there would be in ‘Pirates’. How many of us would be Pirates then?

Living on the border in Ireland for over forty years and all that goes/has gone with that, If I had a pound (sterling please) for every time I heard someone on TV puff up Red and shout ‘No Surrender’ then I’d have at least enough money to buy at least a small field filled with big conker trees. The truth is the only thing that was/has been surrendered in the name of political progress was mainstream ingrown bigotry, in order to achieve any peace and stability in Northern Ireland, both sides of the political debate (& I acknowledge that there is more than just two sides) had to abandon the idea of their exclusive right to be right, the idea that only they could have a valid position – as a starting point it is not compromise, it might be called concession by some incapable of entertaining or understanding it, its simply acknowledgement that no matter how unpalatable others’ views, they are views, each merits their own relative validity – that attitude is patently (sic) missing from these debates about file sharing – at least in public, I have yet to hear any individual on the side of the major publishers acknowledge that People should be allowed to share intellectual property, as easily as they have shared / purchased, second hand books.

You see the debate into which writers, academics and readers are being invited / drawn really concerns large commercial interests and just like those unruly school children swinging, puffing and scrabbing in the yard, what started the fight is now immaterial, what is at stake now is commercial reputation / commercial control and by inference commercial profits – it has little or nothing to do with the rights of individual producers or authors or anyone human – the clash is the clash of commercial machines and they will eat you and I up as the cross the yard if we let them.

back to my corner.