The debate about managing and protecting copyright is in full swing. It is taking place against a backdrop of technological innovation that is changing marketplaces rapidly.
Copyright and innovation have had a tense relationship over decades of innovation. Website Ars Technica throws oil on the fire by looking at historical innovations that were strongly opposed by those worrying it would damage copyright irreversibly. Technologies the article looks at are the Gramophone, the player piano, photocopiers, the VCR, cassetes, DAT, MP3, Napster, DVR and simply ‘digital’.
For anyone involved in the debate it’s worth keeping an historical perspective when judging the influence of technology on copyright issues.
“It’s almost a truism in the tech world that copyright owners reflexively oppose new inventions that do (or might) disrupt existing business models. But how many techies actually know what rightsholders have said and written for the last hundred years on the subject?
The anxious rhetoric around new technology is really quite shocking in its vehemence, from claims that the player piano will destroy musical taste and the “national throat” to concerns that the VCR is like the “Boston strangler” to claims that only Hollywood’s premier content could make the DTV transition a success. Most of it turned out to be absurd hyperbole, but it’s interesting to see just how consistent the words and the fears remain across more than a century of innovation and a host of very different devices”