The arrival of the Internet and then social media has provided global citizens with access to information on a scale never before imagined. What happens in the world is fact, and generally people like to know those facts. Where those facts are subject to someone’s interpretation of the importance, influence, or underlying nature of those facts, can we then assume that’s when it becomes “news”? Does this analysis of why, how, and what it means, make it subject to an intellectual property right? How is such a right, if it exists, then affected by the owner of the opinion openly publishing it online?
One of the things that surprised and impressed me about the early Internet was its magnanimous nature. People were building websites merely because they wanted to share information. Whilst many websites are still merely providing information, we all know that the Internet has become less about magnanimity and more about “how can I make money from this”.
Before the Internet, traditional media companies controlled access to and the publishing of information. For the privilege of having access to such information we had to pay, generally by purchasing newspapers and magazines, and through advertising on TV. There were little other means to know what was happening in the greater world beyond our locality. These media companies now seem to not understand that the world has changed. We, the consumers and creators of information, are in control; or are we?
If the media are meant to objectively report the news in an unbiased manner, what intellectual property do they add? Any news will be distributed across the Internet in a relatively short period of time. Do media companies therefore believe that their ability to source and report the news the quickest gives them their intellectual property such that they can charge anyone who might access and use it? Further, media companies rarely report without bias, using a raft of commentators, reporters, and editors to filter, colour, and regularly ignore, anything they believe might compromise their sustainability and financial best interests. And they want us to pay for that by attacking the likes of Google and Facebook?
I am frustrated and offended when I click an article link to a news site that requires me to sign up to see “their” news. IT IS NOT THEIR NEWS; IT IS MERELY WHAT HAPPENS IN OUR WORLD! The ability I have to not pay for such news and instead access it via other means eg social media, blogs, chat rooms, word of mouth, etc, should be sacrosanct in an open and democratic world. Traditional media companies were part of a plutocracy who controlled the globe. You might say that contemporary IT global giants now have that control, but at least they share the access to information benefits with a global user base, for no upfront fees.