In 1710 copyright was created to guarantee artists (of all kinds) fair recognition and income for their work. In the contemporary world copyright seems to benefit conglomerates. The Music, publishing, imaging and movie industries have the power to decide wether their materials can be used by others and if so for what purpose and price. This means that we may be moving towards an era of content control, artificial scarcity, few to many, hierarchal structures and the privatization of an ever increasing share of cultural expression. This is what copyright can do when in the wrong hands, take away our democratic right to our freedom of cultural and artistic exchange (Smiers & Van Schijndel 2008).
Although, as we all know, information just wants to be free. The wonder of the web is its ability for information flow, built in plenitude, many-to-many capabilities and its distributed networks. Millions of people are exchanging and sharing music, movies and images over the net everyday. Refusing to acknowledge that these illegal activities are a form of stealing and refusing to accept that huge companies can own the rights, for example, to millions of Mp3 files. As with most out-dated systems digitalization is shaking the foundations of copyright.
Introduce the Digital Rights Movement (DRM). The digital revolution has allowed for new and innovative ways to use and share digital content. As a result it has made it almost impossible for copyright holders to control the distribution of their property. DRM is a movement or management strategy that aims to stop or ease the practice of piracy. It takes the control from the person in possession of the digital content and hands it over to a computer program. You know all of those terms and conditions you agreed to but never read? End User License Agreements, encryption even spyware. This is all to restrict and control how you use content. An abstract example of the extent to which this content could be controlled is if Google determined what you could or could not write in Gmail, for example you cannot use the letter ‘F’ or ‘A’. They could also claim ownership over everything you write. Information wants to be free but it also wants to be expensive. Creative Commons is something of a compromise between the restrictive copyright and complete freedom, as it allows for some flexibility and some control. However the issue still remains, will copyright lead to the end of cultural expression?
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/07/opinion/07iht-edsmiers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& ((Smiers, J & Van Schijndel, M 2008 ‘Imagine a world without copyright’ The New York Times)