What’s “The biggest threat to the internet that you’ve probably never heard of?” This video, released by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), states that twelve countries are now secretly discussing various trade agreements, including how to restrict some types of sharing on the internet. Another headline reads “DRM and HTML5: it’s now or never for the Open Web.”
While I agree that Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) must not be allowed to keep internet users in the dark, I am paradoxically perplexed about intellectual property enforcement and Digital Rights Management (DRM). The argument for both is that tighter restrictions will create more jobs.
Think about how very little knowledge a person needs today in order to create a new app. Prohibiting the average-Joe from building upon what was previously created by someone else may generate a new need for “experts.” And experts will have to get paid!
Would the world be such a bad place if it were less about sharing and more about respecting expertise? Some rapper who builds a career out of hacking up old songs and lip-syncing is NOT the same as an artist who composes songs and actually plays an instrument. Right? And would the world implode if teen or retiree volunteers earned stipends or an hourly wage?
Hey, I share. I created and write this blog (that no one reads) for free. I write a monthly column in a local newspaper for free. I pay to join and then participate with professional organizations for free. I share, post, and discuss on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, etc. for free.
What has all this sharing gotten me?
Six months into my social media experiment, and I’m only now realizing that I’ll never be equipped enough to be considered “cutting edge.” Technology changes too fast. Plus, everyone else in the universe is doing the same thing, so my experience won’t prove that I am unique.
I think of all the time I’ve sat here pecking away at this here keyboard or swiping away on my tablet (for free), and I wonder if, when I die, I’ll regret it. Will this year of social media experimentation be one big blank when my life flashes before my eyes on my deathbed?
It’s true that I have learned some groovy stuff and met some interesting people, but I haven’t EARNED anything other than experience. If I’m not getting paid, shouldn’t I instead be spending my free time gardening, playing music, writing poetry, remembering birthdays, hosting parties, shopping with friends, walking in the sand at the beach?
Due to an economy that worships the bottomline, lots of under or unemployed colleagues are banging their head against the social media/internet wall as well, hoping for some sort of big break. Some hope for recognition or momentary fame on Youtube. Others long to be offered a new job by a head-hunter on LinkedIn. Some want to invent the next app that will solve the world’s problems… and make them a millionaire. For others (like me), it’s the fear of becoming obsolete well before retirement age that keeps us glued to the monitor.
Whatever the reason for devoting time and energy to sharing ourselves with the World Wide Web, is there a return on our investment? As a librarian, I support intellectual freedom and free access to quality information. That doesn’t mean I have to be pro-perpetual-sharing.
Like I said, the TPP should NOT be allowed to create policy without input from consumers and users. That’s a huge no-no. Be sure to read The Guardian article to find out how to protest. If, however, producing more DRM gets us to recognize, hire, and pay people for their creative expertise (and get us some better music), then I’m on board. If enforcing stricter intellectual property-rights will get us to stop the modern expectation of sharing expertise with others for free, and will create more jobs, then I’m all for it. Go ahead and call me selfish!