Open Power: Why You Might Have More In Common With Feargal Sharkey Than You Think
The Pirate Bay released a fabulously entertaining press release yesterday, containing the memorable claim that “we’ve done what they [Hollywood] did”, meaning circumventing legislation to open up a restricted field to business and the public. Techdirt examined this claim, and found historical evidence for it. About one hundred years ago, Thomas Edison’s “Motion Picture Patents Company” tried to monopolise film equipment production, but Carl Laemmle’s Universal Pictures refused to bow down, and cinema-goers flocked to the “illegal” movies of Laemmle, and fellow independents.
From playground pecking orders to international affairs, hierarchy affects every field of human endeavour. We all want to be number one, at least potentially. So people in relatively weak positions will favour strategies that improve their standing, whereas people in powerful positions will favour strategies that maintain the status quo. Hence Pirate Bay vs. SOPA.
None of this is particularly enlightening. The intriguing aspect is the source of the principles. How personal is the motivation? Take the journey of Feargal Sharkey, from new wave frontman to head of UK Music. Seen in this light, his early music career was more about personal desire than any wider political interest. Unlike, say, John Lydon. “Teenage Kicks” matter to a teenager. Protecting music copyright matters to an ageing rocker.
Orwell said [something like] “all intelligent, young men are revolutionaries”. Whether today’s generation of copyleft supporters remain so into old age will be interesting. History suggests that the majority of them will go the way of Laemmle and Sharkey. Michael Gove, scourge of public education, once picketed for the NUJ. Have a look at the picture. He was much younger then.
Perspective relies upon where you stand. It might just be worth bearing that in mind, as you sign the anti-SOPA petition (which, incidentally, I really urge you to do).