Imagine there is no copyright and no cultural conglomerates too...
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|Editor:||Institute of Network Cultures|
Copyright gives authors exclusive control of the use of a growing number of forms of artistic expression. Often, it is not the authors who own those rights, but gigantic cultural enterprises. They manage not only the production, but also the distribution and marketing of a large proportion of films, music, theatre, literature, soap operas, visual arts and design. That gives them far-reaching powers in deciding what we see, hear or read, in which setting and, above all, what we don’t see, hear or read.
Naturally, things could get to the stage where digitalisation will rearrange this highly controlled and over-financed landscape. We can’t be so sure of that, however. The amount of money invested in the entertainment industries is phenomenal. They operate worldwide. Culture is the ultimate excellent money-maker. There is no reason to suppose, at the moment, that the cultural giants of this world will easily give up their market domination, either in the old material domain or in the digital world.
We are now therefore looking for the alarm bell, so we can ring it. When a limited number of conglomerates control our common area of cultural communication to a substantial degree, then that undermines democracy. The freedom to communicate for everyone and everyone’s right to participate in his or her society’s cultural life, as promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, can become diluted to the unique right of a few heads of companies and investors and the ideological and economic agendas to which they work.
We are not convinced that this is the sole option for the future. It is possible to create a level playing field. Copyright, in our view, presents an obstacle. At the same time, we have noticed that the bestsellers, blockbusters and stars of the big cultural enterprises are having a disadvantageous effect. They dominate the market to such an extent that there is little room for the works of the many, many other artists. They are pushed to the margin, where it is difficult for the public to discover their existence.
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