Journal: 100 years of Big Content fearing technology—in its own words

03 Economy, 04 Education, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Ethics, InfoOps (IO), Methods & Process
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For the last hundred years, rightsholders have fretted about everything from the player piano to the VCR to digital TV to Napster. Here are those objections, in Big Content’s own words.

By Nate Anderson | Last updated October 11, 2009 10:00 PM CT

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.

So here they are, in their own words—the copyright holders who demanded restrictions on player pianos, photocopiers, VCRs, home taping, DAT, MP3 players, Napster, the DVR, digital radio, and digital TV.

Phi Beta Iota: The secret intelligence world feels similarly about Open Source Intelligence (OSINT).   To understand the recent history of opposition without foundation to making better use of OSINT, check out HISTORY.