There is a culture war being waged. It is bigger than illegal copying or file sharing. It is the popular premise that controlling intellectual property is a waste. It’s all discussion and theory now, since nobody has proven pathways; there are no strategies yet that are backed with reliable metrics. All discussions are only speculation and contrived logic.
That makes it fun, in the face of the unsettling realities. But I think the protection of intellectual property is more important today than ever before.
All physical forms of expression of ideas are now at the mercy of the forces that destroyed every previous form of distribution gate-keeping, and at the mercy of the moral ambiguity that surrounds the ease of copying.
There no longer exists protection of creative content based upon closed systems of distribution or based upon the moral values of our society. Anybody can easily make a copy of any creative content, and few people are morally compelled to acknowledge or support the creators.
Protection of what is commonly referred to as “intellectual property” is the last protection available to content creators.
As society fails to acknowledge creators, the dinosaurs that built sustainable and profitable industry based on the efforts of creators will use draconian methods, such as, most simply, lawsuits, to try to thwart the evolution that is destroying distribution systems.
Society is tending toward destroying creators.
The moral ambiguity that allows the misappropriation of every and any expression of creativity will isolate the creator from a mass audience. Eventually, the only place creators will allow their content to be expressed will be within a closed-wall appreciative and supportive audience. The general public will be damned.
Creative people will be saying, “I do not want my creative work expropriated by masses who don’t give a shit if I create or not and, ultimately, if I survive or not.”
In the middle and dark ages, such an attitude was unknown because nobody was aware of the common life outcome of poverty-stricken and exploited artists. Today, we are fully aware of this outcome and can change our lives to do things differently.
The public does not like filmmakers. Constant insults include “They only make crap films” and other ridiculous statements to justify the taking of creative content. “Indie filmmakers are pretentious asses” is a common insult. It amazes me that any creative person would want to allow their art to be introduced into such a hostile world of animosity and theft. The public says to the artist, “I demand your creation, and oh by the way: fuck you!”
I think the ultimate outcome of this mania of our malaise is to no longer thrust creativity out to the public, begging for acceptance. Rather, the outcome will be to build closed tribes of support—moral, financial, and inspirational.
The romantic notion of the masochistic artist striving for mass approval by offering creativity to a cruel world is the most common illusion about intellectual property. Perhaps if artists can be both emotionally healthy AND creative (yes, I know that seems mutually exclusive), then we might find they will allow their content to be presented only in their own protective tribes: walled virtual villages surrounded by moats.
So, I’m guessing our society will split into two camps: the current public that proclaims, “Damn the artist, you can shrivel up and die for all I care” and new empowered artists that stand and say, “Damn the public, I don’t need hostility and theft, I shall no longer cast my pearls before swine.”
Strong, aware artists will find ways to build tribes and abandon the public.
What is an indication that points in this new direction?
In one of history’s best accidents, the upstart Diaspora* software, a proposed controllable and wallable social media network, went up on Kickstarter at, ironically, the same time as the Facebook privacy outrage blew up. What happened? While most Kickstarter projects pull in maybe $5,000, maybe $10,000, Diaspora* surged to $200,000 in donations from people who were thrilled at the prospect of a new down-scalable social media environment.
The brouhaha over Facebook and the amazing funding of Diaspora*, as well as the demise of Friendster and MySpace, are indications that people are beginning to think in terms of neighborhoods and chatting over back fences instead of world-wide openness.
Somebody will create walled, moated tribal villages where our creativity and our personalities are protected, challenged, fed, inspired. They will be built from scratch, being flung off from today’s massive social media.
I anticipate tribes of culture unlike any other time in history.