January 8, 2010

This IS the Market, Stupid!

Working with Pirate MEP Christian Engström in the European Parliament, I often come in contact with advocates for Intellectual Property – e.g. lobbyists from the film, music and book industry. And one thing almost always strikes me...

They don't seem to have a clue about what's really going on.

They don’t seem to realize that we now live in an information society with hyper distribution. And if some of them might have some sort of a clue after all, it seems they think the Pirate Party or Christian himself invented the internet, free flow of information and file sharing. (We sometimes respond to that, saying “No, that was someone much more clever”. But they really don’t seem to catch the subtle humor, nor the message.)

What the Pirate Party does, is “just” to point out what policies are reasonable in our new society.

Billions of people are online. Al of them can, at least in theory, connect with each other. And there are often a surprisingly sort distance (or few links) between person B and person Q. A thought, an idea or an application can spread over the world in just a few days. All kinds of data that are on my computer could be transfered to yours. Or to that that of a bike repair man in Chile. If it is good and interesting enough.

Some entrepreneurs have got the message. They start net applications, they set up web stores (that often are more successful the more specialised they are), they start their own media channels and they start projects where people cooperate. In most cases it can be done with very little money. And if they choose, they can address a global market.

The IP-lobbyists from the entertainment industry, on the other hand… They refuse to see or to accept the real world as it is. They are upset, because people don’t want to go downtown to a store to buy their products engraved to plastic discs anymore. They go bananas if someone shares the information he or she has bought with someone else. They curse the Internet. They want so supervise, filter and control the flow of information. They want to cut people of from the net. They have no problem making the world a worse place for everybody else – e.g. all the entrepreneurs, scientists, students, activists, artists, blogers and ordinary people that every day spontaneously fills the Internet with life and creativity.

The IP-lobby does not make any real effort to accept, embrace and make use of our new reality and of the information society. They could, if they wanted. And they could make a lot of money doing so. But so far, they seem unable and unwilling to think outside the box.

Sometimes it’s almost amazing. We met with a person from the book publishing sector. That person told us, with a stiff upper lip, that the amount and the multitude of information on the Internet is a problem – as no one can handle the selection process, deciding what should be published and not. So… von oben.

An online information society with a multitude of information and hyper distribution is the new market. And in many ways it is a much more free market than the old one. You should accept it – or get out of the way.

And let’s face it. Some products, business models, concepts and stuff will end up in the trash can – as they don’t fit our modern society. And they should end up in the trash – making open space for things that are new, profitable, focused on the future, viable and blooming.

No one can tell what tomorrows business concepts will look like. But you don't need to worry. We'll find out, eventually. The market will solve that. On its’ own. There will always be talanted people developing new stuff for new markets. You might call it capitalism, spontaneous order, progress, the invisible hand, dynamic effects or what ever you like. But it will be there.

Trust the Force!

[This blog post in Swedish]

1 comment:

Johan Tjäder said...

And just because people are not willing to pay for bits of plastic to get content, it doesn't mean they don't want to be entertained or pay for that entertainment.

This is the key element of this discussion. Payment for entertainment is so fused with the concept of selling those plastic discs, even though that's a minor part of the economy as it is even today.

People are in for the experience. Provide it and you earn money.