To Big Media All Media is Commercial, to Normal People Media is Part of a Conversation

All forms of media and broadcasted conversations were at one time only producible by Big Media companies. And most of it was for commercial use. This is the broadcasting, music selling, book selling; the licensing and permission paradigm.

When you are having a conversation with a friend at your home, you might talk about a piece of corporately owned media, and you might use that corporately owned media in the conversation. The conversation is private and non-commercial.

Now, when you try to take your conversation about media online (in a blog, video, or mp3 for example) and use the media in this conversation, Big Media sees this conversations as their exclusive right to have. And if you did not get the proper licenses, copyrights, and permissions to have an online conversations about the media while using (in it’s original form, in its partial form, or in a re-purposed form except in the case of parody), you are a pirate or a thief. And since it is online, it is assumed to be commercial or have commercial value.

This is the fundamental problem with IP and Fair Use today. To Big Media, all media is big media, and to regular people having a conversation, media is a conversation piece that will be used. Big Media is at odds with normal people’s use of corporately owned Media as part of commentary or conversation if it is online or in the public and for non-commercial purposes.

What Big Media fails to realizes is that conversations about corporately owned Media is not a substitute for media, is not a law enforceable business opportunity, and does not decrease or destroy the ability for corporately owned Media to produce more corporately owned Media. What normal people fail to realize is that Big Media assume they own all the rights to all forms of conversation about their media. But that is where Fair Use should and will be allowed present its case.

The way it looks today is that whoever has the money for a lawyer is allowed to exercise Fair Use. This means that most regular people, despite the ability to broadcast messages on the internet for free, are not allowed to comment by using corporately owned Media.

My favorite books on this topic are Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig (who is featured in the video above). You can buy it on Amazon, read it on Google Books, download the free audio book version, or check out all of the other free formats.

Update: 5/27/08
Techdirt shows how Viacom suing YouTube shows this difference perfectly. YouTube is about communication. But Viacom sees it as a broadcast, and so the laws governing broadcast should apply. YouTube sees it as freedom of speech and fair use.

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