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141

The Double Anchor

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Taylor, A. (2014). The Double Anchor. In Taylor, A. The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. Fourth Estate, pp. 141-176

163

The problem, though, is that it is not clear how file sharing actually addresses financial improprieties or points the way to an arrangement that’s more equitable: unlike a label or studio, where a percentage of profits trickles back to creators, peer-to-peer sites and online locker services return nothing to artists, though they can be incredibly lucrative for those who run them.28 The Pirate Bay, for example, is bedecked by advertising. The now-defunct Megaupload (parent company of Megavideo and Megaporn) made its flamboyant owner, “pirate king” Kim Dotcom, over $40 million in 2011 alone (wealth he famously flaunted all while comparing himself to Martin Luther King). Meanwhile, piracy has set a new, low baseline for artists’ negotiations. Where free culture enthusiasts justify their position by invoking the exploitation of artists under the old model, digital capitalists, looking to build profitable businesses by storing or streaming creative work produced by others, defend microscopic or nonexistent payments by arguing that the alternative is nothing at all.

need to figure out how to address this critique from the left

—p.163 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

The problem, though, is that it is not clear how file sharing actually addresses financial improprieties or points the way to an arrangement that’s more equitable: unlike a label or studio, where a percentage of profits trickles back to creators, peer-to-peer sites and online locker services return nothing to artists, though they can be incredibly lucrative for those who run them.28 The Pirate Bay, for example, is bedecked by advertising. The now-defunct Megaupload (parent company of Megavideo and Megaporn) made its flamboyant owner, “pirate king” Kim Dotcom, over $40 million in 2011 alone (wealth he famously flaunted all while comparing himself to Martin Luther King). Meanwhile, piracy has set a new, low baseline for artists’ negotiations. Where free culture enthusiasts justify their position by invoking the exploitation of artists under the old model, digital capitalists, looking to build profitable businesses by storing or streaming creative work produced by others, defend microscopic or nonexistent payments by arguing that the alternative is nothing at all.

need to figure out how to address this critique from the left

—p.163 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
166

Of course the advertisers themselves want nothing more than for all of us to encounter their offerings, to “engage” and “interact” with them. We have known for years that culture can be a commodity even when you don’t have to pay for it outright. Those who would protect the cultural commons must see that the challenge is not only copyright, but those who own the platforms and channels through which culture is increasingly shared. On their watch, the cultural commons has become little more than a radically discounted shopping mall, a consumers’ paradise of free entertainment propped up by advertising. What’s being hoarded now are the means of delivery, the channels through which the economic value of culture is realized. The commons can be commodified without being enclosed outright.

—p.166 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

Of course the advertisers themselves want nothing more than for all of us to encounter their offerings, to “engage” and “interact” with them. We have known for years that culture can be a commodity even when you don’t have to pay for it outright. Those who would protect the cultural commons must see that the challenge is not only copyright, but those who own the platforms and channels through which culture is increasingly shared. On their watch, the cultural commons has become little more than a radically discounted shopping mall, a consumers’ paradise of free entertainment propped up by advertising. What’s being hoarded now are the means of delivery, the channels through which the economic value of culture is realized. The commons can be commodified without being enclosed outright.

—p.166 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
168

Cohen is highlighting a value that has long been central to any progressive movement: respect for labor. From this angle, it’s clear that “copyleft,” as the free culture position on copyright is sometimes called, is not “left” in the traditional sense. As Richard Stallman told me, he designed copyleft to ensure the freedom of users to redistribute and modify copies of software. Freedom to tinker is the paramount value it promotes, but a left worthy of the name has to balance that concern with the demand for equality, for parity of wealth and redistribution of power.

Copyleft, with its narrow emphasis on software freedom, even when broadened to underscore the freedom of speech implications of such a position, offers a limited political response to entrenched systems of economic privilege, and it does not advance limits on profitability or promote fair compensation. Free culture, with its emphasis on access, does not necessarily lead to a more just social order. To pay to watch an independent movie does not mean capitulating to the privatization of knowledge but rather recognizes the work that went into making it and provides some support so that the effort can continue.33

—p.168 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

Cohen is highlighting a value that has long been central to any progressive movement: respect for labor. From this angle, it’s clear that “copyleft,” as the free culture position on copyright is sometimes called, is not “left” in the traditional sense. As Richard Stallman told me, he designed copyleft to ensure the freedom of users to redistribute and modify copies of software. Freedom to tinker is the paramount value it promotes, but a left worthy of the name has to balance that concern with the demand for equality, for parity of wealth and redistribution of power.

Copyleft, with its narrow emphasis on software freedom, even when broadened to underscore the freedom of speech implications of such a position, offers a limited political response to entrenched systems of economic privilege, and it does not advance limits on profitability or promote fair compensation. Free culture, with its emphasis on access, does not necessarily lead to a more just social order. To pay to watch an independent movie does not mean capitulating to the privatization of knowledge but rather recognizes the work that went into making it and provides some support so that the effort can continue.33

—p.168 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
173

The commons are accessed asymmetrically, like the massive repositories of genomic data that have been made available online by scientists who hoped the repositories would become a “global resource, shared equally,” but which have been overwhelmingly used by private biotech firms in a handful of wealthy countries. The romance of the commons—the idea that a resource open to all will be accessed equitably and create a more just outcome, that differences evaporate online, openness ensures fairness, and the goods can be “free” to all without negative consequence—ignores the problem of inequality. In reality, differing circumstances, abilities, assets, and power render some better able to take advantage of a commons than others.

—p.173 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

The commons are accessed asymmetrically, like the massive repositories of genomic data that have been made available online by scientists who hoped the repositories would become a “global resource, shared equally,” but which have been overwhelmingly used by private biotech firms in a handful of wealthy countries. The romance of the commons—the idea that a resource open to all will be accessed equitably and create a more just outcome, that differences evaporate online, openness ensures fairness, and the goods can be “free” to all without negative consequence—ignores the problem of inequality. In reality, differing circumstances, abilities, assets, and power render some better able to take advantage of a commons than others.

—p.173 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago