Creative Destruction?: How the Global Financial Crisis and Content Industries’ Desire for Stronger Property Rights is Killing Open Internet Ideals

TitleCreative Destruction?: How the Global Financial Crisis and Content Industries’ Desire for Stronger Property Rights is Killing Open Internet Ideals
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Winseck, D. R.
Affiliation (1st Author)School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Section or WGPolitical Economy Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodePEW2a
Slot Code (Keyword)PEW2a
Time of Session11:00-12:30
Session TitleFinancial and Media Crisis
Submission ID6953

This paper will examine the media content industries’ responses to the harsh blows of the financial crisis of 2008, especially in North America and most of Europe, the rise of the internet and the growing dominance of telecom, internet and ICT firms in the media field. Media content sectors are pushing for stronger property rights to blunt the forces of creative destruction, but this has also put them on a collision course with much larger telecom, internet and ICT players, to say nothing of public opinion. While prospects for victory is slim, the toll already imposed on open internet and common-carrier principles is considerable.   The paper will begin by charting worldwide revenues for the telecoms, internet and IT industries as well as for the music, film, tv, press and video game sectors between 1998 and 2012. The aim is to identify media sectors that are growing, stagnating, or in long-term decline. I also want to assess changes in the relative weight of revenue sources in each of these latter sectors -- for example, between the domestic and global box, film and tv revenues, rentals and digital rights that make up the entire movie industry – in order to understand how media are being reconfigured in the face of new realities.   Media content companies have good reason to feel under siege and this has led them to adopt a series of measures designed to blunt the gale forces of creative destruction: (1) stronger, broader and longer copyright laws, (2) digital locks; (3) and three strikes laws that seek to enroll ISPs into protecting media companies’ copyrights. The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) assigned priority to the latter approach in its 2008 Digital Music Report and, with the support of the RIAA and MPAA, has scored a series of wins for three strikes laws in one country after another ever since: Australia, Brazil, France, Korea New Zealand, Sweden, the UK, Taiwan, and the US, among others.   The results have been more mixed than this would suggest, however, with key parts of the three strikes laws sent back for Parliamentary and judicial review in France and the UK. Canada rejected them in its new Copyright Modernization Act (2012). ISPs such as BT and Talk Talk in the UK, TekSavvy in Canada as well as iiNet in Australia have firmly opposed such measures, as has Google. Ericsson has also resisted intense pressure to design its telecom and internet equipment to serve the content industries’ desire for stronger property rights. Lastly, the three strikes approach has been condemned by the United Nations as violating freedom of speech and privacy rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Liberties (1966).   Ultimately, examining the contrasting fates of different media, and the tensions between the content industries and vastly larger telecom, internet and ICT players is essential to understanding the political economies of media in the early 21st century.

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