Recently by Nathaniel James, Community Engagement Specialist, Mozilla

At the risk of being accused of changing the subject, or worse, heresy, I want to offer the following:

Fighting on the policy front is not the only way for artists (or "creators" going forward) to maintain and expand their creative rights in our communications system. 

I'm going to argue that there are many points of intervention when it comes to the evolution of technology in society, that artists are already taking the lead on these other fronts (in addition to policy), and that recognizing and leveraging creators' strengths outside of policy-focused strategies will make the policy battles go much better for us.

Why am I doing this?  I have spent a few years fighting the good policy battle in the media and communications sectors.  As one of the wonkier NAMAC board members, I still do.  I can't argue with a lot of what's already been said...

Policy is hard. Check.
Big money tends to win in Washington. Check.
The groups working on cultural and communication policies for the public benefit need more resources. Check.
Representing and empowering "artists" in policy debates is a non-trivial proposition. Check.

However, I see at least two problematic trends in the conversation so far.  First, I don't want us to get stuck on what I would call policy determinism.  The idea that "getting the policy right" will make the world a better place for creators doesn't always work.  As the political is the art of compromise, no one wins 100% of what they want out of a policy debate.  Reforms come with new loopholes baked in (see campaign finance).  The result of government action are never predictable (see, ARPANET).  Regulators are captured by the industries they were meant to oversee (see, well, any regulator).

The bottom line is that policy changes are not the sole (or often the most important) mechanisms shaping the structure and impact of any technology or industry.

Second, I'm afraid we could run in endless circles trying to find the magic bullet that would strengthen the creator's voice in the policy debate.  I hope we have some great ideas, but we're up against several limiting factors. 

Leaders in every policy change effort are trying to get everyone, including creators, involved in their thing.  As I sat down to write this piece, I got an email asking me to help involve artists in the climate change fight.  There's only so much activism time in the day.
July 20, 2010 9:44 PM | | Comments (1) |


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