The decision in Capitol Records v MP3tunes neatly encapsulates the different tensions that US legislators faced when they put together the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - and in particular the rights of creators and content owners to protect their content and monetise that content, against the rights of technology companies and internet service providers to develop new technologies and new systems in the digital age, without unfair restrictions and the threat of endless litigation. Or put it another way - were the US content industries (film and television companies, record labels, music and book publishing companies, and the games and software companies) worth more or less to the US legislators than the new technology and internet companies - Apple, Amazon, Google, the telecoms giants and the ISPs - to name but a few! Surely Professor Hargreaves' review of Intellectual Property law in the UK was written against a similar backdrop.
According to the Observer, in Free Ride, Former Billboard magazine editor Robert Levine argues that the worldwide web took the content industries by surprise and in the ensuing melee it was the technology companies who were far more adept at exploiting the confusion and lobbying for favourable laws such as the DCMA. Levine argues that these legislative changes, coupled with academic and other social comment from 'internet gurus', promoted a new environment that was toxic to the content industries, saying "for media companies, getting advice from technology pundits was like letting the fox lead a strategic management retreat in the henhouse".
Is online piracy and the 'free culture' business model slowly destroying culture - or at the very least the culture industries? Make up your own mind, but Robert Levine's thoughts can be found in Free Ride available for £15.99 from www.guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call (UK) 0330 333 6846.