Sunday, 13 November 2011

what is that new country-code, top level internet domain for obamastan?

The United States Congress is poised to pass yet another regulation that will severely curtail creative expression and make the make internet a more impoverished place. H, earlier in the week, spend some time at the footlights of one of Germany’s bigger entertainment awards ceremonies, by coincidence, and was in close proximity to some of young darlings of pop music that were not only discovered through the internet, were continuously promoted, aggressively disallowed to sink into obscurity, by the same medium, at a time when monotony of the radio just does not cut it anymore.

And it made me wonder how those celebrities, though already made and secure, might feel about the chances of the future artists they hope to inspire, when, if such trends succeed, everyone would have to go through a very litigious checklist before posting or sharing anything, if they can even find a forum to host it in the first place. The proposal, drafted and sailed through legislation is of course sponsored by an entertainment industry that knows no shame, dark and divorced from their product and producers (actors, actresses and artists), would not only protect, hermetically seal, both stale and inviolate renditions by making it a crime to cover, parody or re-mix the copyrighted work of another, the industry with the support of the American government would gain broad and arbitrary (without appeal or recourse) to shut down large swathes of the internet for infringement. Of course, every host would recede at the merest threat. So much for derivative talent and inspiration, but then, one might expect that this change might promote the truly original and talented, without acknowledging that the most productive practice comes from revisiting the classics. That hope is also dashed by this legislation, however, because there are yet more insidious parts to this bill: alternative and independent news sources would be edged out, because citing or referencing the copy of mainstream sources would need to be vetted through permissions and licensing—for each and every link and citation. There would be no more American Wikipedia, though seeking hosting outside of the bill’s jurisdiction is becoming more and more attractive. Even enriching the internet with original art and information with blogging could be made prohibitive, because the bill strongly encourages private contributors to register their works with a media clearing-house, so their unwanted patron can determine how their work is shared and held in trust. The whole world is hoping that Americans do not go quietly down that dangerous path, but given the political will in general there and the practices that have eroded privacy in the name of security, maybe the best the world can hope for is that this trend does not spread and other countries can play the gracious host.