Sunday, November 17, 2013

On Modern Propaganda Promoting the Idea of Copyright

It's interesting how copyright propaganda changed over time. Historically, copyright propaganda made a moral argument: it's simply wrong to copy. Why? People depend on creative works for their livelihood. If you copy, you harm the industry's continued existence and its ability to create. You can see this in the famous "Home Taping Is Killing Music!" campaign or the original "Don't Copy That Floppy".

This approach was largely abandoned in propaganda produced after the mainstream rise of computer networks and the widespread copyright infringement that followed. Perhaps because the actual moral qualms come about over restrictive copyright? Perhaps because more music is being made then ever despite this "industry's" virtual existence on life support? Hrmm? I'm not sure really, but it's interesting.

The new copyright propaganda is based on fear. They try to scare people into submission. You can see the moral viewpoint shown in the new "Don't Copy That Floppy", and other propaganda videos such as "Downloading Movies Is Stealing" or FACT videos on copyright. The point of these propaganda videos is to show the legal consequences of copyright, like for instance showing like a mass infringer making hundreds of thousands of dollars and that he's in jail. Great. The problem is, the vast majority of copyright infringers aren't like that. So they are using hyperbole to attempt to scare people. Maybe it's wishful thinking.

They also have made arguments that copyright infringement is equivalent to supporting terrorism. This almost feels like it belongs in a parody of copyright propaganda, but it's the real deal (see: "FACT Anti-Piracy PSA"). I almost feel like this kind of thing goes down with something like "Fuck it. Terrorism is bad, lets go with that. Film the stupid video and lets go the pub already." I feel like I could be a good propagandist for them. Imagine a plane crashing into a skyscraper, dramatic music, people screaming in the background, followed by a narrator saying "this happened because you downloaded The Hunger Games yesterday. I hope you are happy." Instant success!

Also interesting of course is the always present cultural references, for instance, Star Trek characters in the new "Don't Copy That Copy". It's possible that they utilized them with permission, but it's not out of the ordinary for copyright propagandists to regularly violate copyright themselves often in their efforts of promoting it.

It will be interesting to see how copyright propaganda evolves in the future, but one thing I feel is certain: they aren't getting their message across.

Is copyright simply not compelling?

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