Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Whose Internet is it?

I am watching some watershed events unfolding now that may have long term repercussions on the Internet and how it is to be used to share information.Where once the online community freely traded, bartered and "appropriated" information, what we are looking at today is that suddenly the market has dropped in to regulate the chaos.

Although SOPA and PIPA were bloodied by an online revolt last week, they have in effect taken a time-out to regroup and figure out how to come out swinging again. But while we were distracted with the rhetoric, big business and the feds acted and took down Megaupload -- hardware, software, wetware and all. And, as the online rebels predicted would happen, similar file-sharing sites have opted to self-censor in order to evade the copyright avengers' threat radar.

The message is clear. Henceforth, no one will transact information with anyone else without the exchange of hard currency. The market has come to the 'net and, whether directly or indirectly, we will pay for what we wish to share and for what we wish to take. It may not have gone that far yet, but if the free users of the 'net don't make their voices heard, that will be the direction it'll go once we accept this incident as a legal precedent.

Here's the thing: who owns the interwebs and can hence act with impunity on it? Can we free users continue to flout legally established copyrights and enjoy others' works without paying them their due; or can big business take away what we claim is our right to share any kind of information as we please?

Sad to say, it is the latter to whom our digital playground belongs. Unless we have been able to build our Internet access infrastructure ourselves from scratch, our computers, operating systems, browsers and even our networks are store-bought (or subscribed to) from big business. While it served them to let us in and play for free, or at least cheap, they've decided that now we can't get enough of what we have, it's time to start making us pay for the privilege. Oldest marketing trick in the book.

'Revenge!' scream the hacks of Anonymous, who activate their LOIC to down the websites of the Authorities like the DOJ, MPAA and RIAA with DDoS attacks. Juvenile, and hurts no one that matters. No one visits those websites voluntarily, anyway. It's all just vandalism and venting.

There's one way we free users can take back the 'net, though. Last week's revolt showed us the way. But I doubt many of us would like it. If a 24-hour Internet strike worked well enough to make the legislative body rethink we'd sheepishly accept their hare-brained scheme to take away our freedom; think of what a whole summer's boycott of Hollywood blockbusters would do to make the moguls see what our freedom is worth.

Yes, I'm saying the heck with all the delicious, to salivate over, fanboy-orgasmic blockbusters! Though we may once have been frothing at the mouth downloading their trailers while waiting for opening day, now we won't even buy their pathetic 3D high-def Blu-Ray DVD releases after they bomb at the box-office.

But what will we do for entertainment then, you ask? I say, support all indie productions, all low-budget, freely-distributed online content made by amateurs who don't expect to be paid for their work but are happy enough just to be watched or heard. Lots of that around, since the Internet can make us media producers in one way or another. A few stalwarts still even blog text. Ahem.

So, Hollywood blockbuster boycott that will bankrupt the greedy major studios in 2012 and show them who the Internet really belongs to? Anyone?

No comments: