Hometown papers’ editorials unpredictable, for once

Local dailies in Hollywood and Silicon Valley get counter-intuitive on copyright-vs.-progress story

Topics: Media Criticism, Copyright, Intellectual Property,

Hometown papers' editorials unpredictable, for once

Just as politicians tend to favor positions taken by the people who pay for their campaigns, local newspapers tend to editorialize in favor of the prevailing economic realities in their regions. That’s why it was surprising in recent days to see how the top daily newspapers in their respective regions of California handled Google’s victory, at least temporarily, over Viacom in a copyright case that’s one battle in the war over who’ll control the Internet.

You’ll recall that a federal judge slapped down Viacom’s claim that Google’s YouTube video service, by allowing its copyrighted videos to be posted on the site, was contributing to copyright infringement. The judge said YouTube was following provisions of the current copyright law that say, among other things, that a site owner is not immediately responsible for what others post there. However, once notified by a copyright holder that it’s hosting infringing work, the site is obliged to take it down.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times, which has often pitched Hollywood’s angle on a variety of issues, published a surprisingly perceptive editorial, very much not taking the film studios’ side. The piece observed that the judge’s ruling was a needed rebuff to yet “another effort to shift copyright holders’ responsibilities onto the middlemen who have opened new distribution pathways online.” It went on:

Those efforts are understandable, given how quickly works can spread around the world, and how many sites can become unauthorized sources. But speedy, low-cost distribution is one of the great advantages of the Internet, not a flaw.

There was more than a little sympathy for the Hollywood dilemma — way more than the Copyright Cartel deserves, in my view — but the Times editorial page showed worthy independence of immensely powerful local interests in its analysis. Two cheers for the Times.



But it’s just one cheer for the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board after reading its day-earlier take on the ruling — and that’s solely because the Chronicle didn’t genuflect to the Bay Area’s dominant local businesses in Silicon Valley’s technology community. They overwhelmingly sided with Google in the matter, for sound reasons that go beyond money. (My view on the case, as posted here last week, is that the ruling meant progress for free speech and collaboration much more than a milestone in a corporate war.)

 

The Chronicle’s editorial grudgingly accepts that the judge knew what he was talking about regarding the law, but that seems to be the problem. For the editorial writer, this is really about who’s going to control content on the Internet — and for the Chronicle, control appears to be binary:  If the creator of media content can’t have absolute control, he or she will be forced to give it away.

The final line is the tip-off to what’s ultimately on the minds of the editorial board: payment for creating media. Calling for new copyright laws — though what they should contain never makes its way into the piece — the newspaper says, “We can’t expect people to create things for free — unless we believe that the only people in our society who can be creative are those who are already rich.”

Actually, we can expect people to create lots of things for free, even people who aren’t rich. They always have, and always will. And we can expect the creative destruction of technological and economic competition to bring us adapted or new business models that will accept technology’s realities and not try to push the proverbial toothpaste back into the tube.

A longtime participant in the tech and media worlds, Dan Gillmor is director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Follow Dan on Twitter: @dangillmor. More about Dan here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>