On regionalised media in a global world

Thanks to the tyranny of distance, Australians of the past were used to getting things well after the rest of the world. We really didn’t know any differently, so it didn’t matter, in years gone by, that our television was months behind it’s US release, or our books came out two years later, or fashions, music and film were far behind their original releases. But this thing called the world wide web now means we KNOW when new shows, films, music and so on is released. We are well aware of the first release date of new books from our favourite authors, and we get the buzz on the next hot thing AS IT HAPPENS. 

I believe firmly in creators receiving income for their work, and I’m more than happy to pay for film, tv, music and books, so I can ensure the continued existence of the creations I love. But right now, it’s becoming very clear to me exactly WHY people pirate, illegally download and torrent these things. Why SHOULD I have to wait for a film, a television series, a new song or a new book for weeks or even MONTHS after it’s release for it to be locally available? If someone can explain to me exactly WHY I have to be dependent upon unreliable distribution via television networks, or hyper expensive distribution of local ebooks retailers, or delayed release of television shows on iTunes in my region, when the web makes access to these things instantaneous, I’d like to hear about it.

Surely the paying market for these things would increase significantly if we were given global opportunity to purchase at reasonable prices upon release? The illegal market would significantly decrease, because legal access for all would be immediate, meaning we could acquire the media we wanted through legitimate channels. Am I being naive? We who are lucky enough to live in a first world country live in a connected world (and yes, I’m well aware this is a first world problem and thus not important in the grand scheme of things) and it seems ridiculous to continue the regionalisation of media in this global world. What barriers are there to global release of media, and how can we cross them?

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “On regionalised media in a global world

  1. Anonymous

    You make excellent points (of course!) but it *feels* like it should be easier though? The future is here in so many ways, and I think that trying to continue to use old systems in this future world is self-defeating.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is the future is here but people’s paradigm is still the old (see HarperCollins 26-book loan limit for example). And that’s to be expected since those in power are those who benefit the most from maintaining the status quo.

      • Anonymous

        True. But *sigh*. Can people power force corporate status quo to change?

      • Anonymous

        Yes but slow. Some die a slow death and resist until the very end (i.e. Borders). Others are adapting (i.e. Google). Most are somewhere in between. (Just look at eBook adoption for libraries; 2 of the Big 5 publishers aren’t selling to libraries at all. HarperCollins is actually the ‘tweener but drawing the most flack.)
        What you need to do is takeover the world, then rule as Overlord Tehani. Problem solved. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Done! Will you be my advisor? 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    Yeah. As a consumer I feel exactly that way.
    As a writer, if someone wants to buy my world rights, they better have a track record for actually promoting the product in all those other countries, not just whacking it up on an English-language website where francophones will never find it while the publisher sits on the French rights.
    I have big fights between myselves all the time, I tell ya 😀
    In the case of TV series, imagine if there was a global TV download site called iTeeV and you need a DooDadiTeeV Viewer to get the shows and they are all DRM protected and everyone pays like good little consumers…then I, who have no such thing as the DooDadiTeeV Viewer might be forced to get into fightfights with all you DooDadiTeeV owners because it would be your fault that the shows (however unreliably) were not on free-to-air TV anymore.
    YOU AND YOUR INSTANT GRATIFICATION PROBLEMS AND YOUR FANCY GADGETS AND YOUR WORLD RIGHTS!
    Just sayin’ 😀
    Thoraiya

  3. Anonymous

    I’ve had this discussion many times over 🙂 Lawrence Lessig has written some *brilliant* stuff on this whole idea, from the stifling of creativity, the origins of copyright and how far from that original intention it has now become, also the way in which we’re currently in the midst of a generation who do pirate, and don’t mind seeing themselves as criminals – that this is where the law shows up as lagging, when people shrug and don’t care that it’s ‘illegal’.
    First world problem? Yeah, in some ways, but if the status quo is changed and we make both accessibility and creators income the priorities, then everyone wins. I also make wild assumptions here that different language rights should be in useful accessible places for people who’d be seeking the text/media out.
    Global education models? Connecting the various groups of ‘them’ into an ‘us’? Just within reach…. just out of reach.
    It frustrates me and makes me sad. And thinking about this, this morning makes me think that maybe Kant had something to his idea of principles of autonomy and to not use people as mere means (ie with subjugation/deceit/coercion as the underlying principle).
    Global accessibility of people’s works – including people who’s works would never usually have that potential widespread impact under current systems – capacity building, ‘us’ building…
    *sigh* I am wishful, and I’m learning how I can have more of an action role in supporting the creation of these (imo) necessary cultural shifts.

  4. Anonymous

    Although charlesatan has taken quite a bit of the wind out of my sails by hitting the nail exactly on the head, I do have one thing to add. The tension between the old guard and the new paradigm is a story as old as time itself – and eventually, the old guard dies, the new generation takes over, and their kids repeat the process. What we’re seeing now, though, has an extra element to it.
    It’s not just your standard old-vs-new debate, it’s post-scarcity technology operating in what is still a scarcity-based world. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of making it in the first place, it costs effectively nothing to create more copies of digital information – it’s post-scarcity, I can make a hundred trillion copies if I want. So since you don’t really have any costs associated with making it, it messes with our notions of theft – if I pirate something, I haven’t actually taken anything from you, I’ve just taken away the hypothetical dollars you would have liked me to pay.
    In a world where everything could be replicated in such a way (or was otherwise so massively abundant that we could abandon our notions of ownership and just let everyone take what they want) calling this piracy ‘theft’ would be silly. You’d be creative solely for the joy of creating, and that would be enough – all you’d want would be for your work to get out there, and for people to appreciate it.
    But that’s not the world we live in – creative people need money to pay the bills, and so they need to be paid for their creative work. They are forced to attach arbitrary prices to items (it’s not so much the case now, I don’t think, but at first they just gave digital items the same prices as their physical counterparts, despite the difference in production costs) because the prices on the stuff they need are less arbitrary.
    The thing is, we might not be that far from some form of 3D printing being common, but it will be a long time before we go completely post-scarcity. So this tension is something we’re going to have to get used to. There are a lot of people finding workarounds, though – webcomic artists have really been the pioneers of it, using the groundwork laid by the Creative Commons people.

  5. Anonymous

    I totally agree with you. I’m a Doctor Who/Torchwood fan and it was frustrating having to wait for months and months to watch them. It also meant avoiding spoilers just about everywhere on the internet, especially on the status updates of my British friends on FB. We got the Christmas special only the day after the British last year, so maybe the ABC have finally realised we need these televised in a timely manner, to avoid illegal downloading.
    I’d happily pay an annual fee to the BBC and other British channels to be able to download my favourite programs. I bet lots of other people would too.

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