Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who are they protecting anyway...?

After reading Information Feudalism, the current political climate came into perfect focus. What is it about humankind that lead them to take laws, that are clearly intended for the welfare of the public, and skew them in favor of their own private interests? Furthermore, what is it about American politics and corporations that make them feel they have the right to dictate to the world the laws of copyright, intellectual property, and patents? Is this an extreme case of ethnocentrism or just greed? OR, perhaps both?

From the very start of this debate American interests were arrogantly put ahead of the rest of the world. For example, America took issue when foreign countries translated and published American authors' work. They called it 'piracy'. However, the same America would not allow foreign authors to be protected in the US unless their work was published here at the same time it was published in the "country of origin". "The London Times saw this as an attempt to make New York the centre of world publishing."

In the same vein, Hollywood began their global monopoly of the entertainment industry as early as the 1920s. The political leaders of the time, and since, have been in complete support of this complete domination all in the name of money. As the author(s) recall, "trade follows the film". Hollywood has been given so much protection based on intellectual property that they dictate the level of competition allowed in foreign countries completely independent of the US government.

 "The end game for Hollywood is no restriction on its capacity to reach any type of screen in the world at any time and place".

"...the output of the US film and TV industry serves to dilute national cultures".

In view of this, I ask again. How can one country claim this kind of global control? Hollywood is an independent, international cartel endorsed 100% by the same people who create the laws concerning intellectual property, copyright, and patents.

Drahos suggests that his use of the word "feudalism" in the title of this book is too harsh. However, I'm not sure I agree. It is very clear who the controlling power players are in this scenario; the conglomerates who own the rights. These conglomerates, or monopolies, are way beyond acting in the interest of the welfare of the public. Using Hollywood as the most extreme case, they have no competition therefore they can charge what they want, which goes against everything we know about laws concerning monopolies. And like the pharmaceutical companies, they are allowed to copyright most everything they do.

The question now is when will these corporate giants, monopolies, conglomerates, etc. sink their daggers into the free flow of information that travels across the internet? Drahos has already made the point of the importance of knowledge. With that, I digress for a moment. Again, not a new concept, question, or speculation, but if all of the research scientists were allowed to share their research/information with each other instead of being forced to tuck it away behind patents, imagine how much further the world would be with respect to cures for any number of diseases.

So, how long will the free flow of information remain free? The US has already forced imposition of its intellectual property laws on Sweden, a country that doesn't have any such laws, and doesn't, by international agreement, have any obligation to do so. However, Sweden obliged. Will the regulation come in only the form of Hollywood protection, or will it come in other forms? This story has yet to be written, but somehow I fear the outcome. The US powers that be are very good at disguising their greed by wearing masks proclaiming concern for the good of the people. My only question now is...which people?


  1. Excellent question. I would follow with questions about what we, as concerned citizens of a democracy, should do about it? (Not that I expect you to have the answer, just that it is important to channel our anger and distaste somewhere productive)

  2. Witch people??!!! LOL, no I'm just kidding... it's from a movie. :P

    Terrific post! That is a rather intriguing question because I agree the government does disguise certain laws and changes etc. as being good for the American people, but it doesn't end up being carried out that way.