Yochai Benkler - Conflicts in Cultural Production
Duration: 00:10:33; Aspect Ratio: 1.738:1; Hue: 350.124; Saturation: 0.363; Lightness: 0.275; Volume: 0.099; Cuts per Minute: 0.663; Words per Minute: 100.466
Does the end of exclusive control over copies spell the death of cultural production? Yochai Benkler thinks not. While the music industry makes money off CDs, musicians supports themselves with performances. He points out that the film studios, on the other hand, take a large part of their revenues from performance and less from media commodities. He outlines how the changing cost structures in film and music production are enabling new stratums of society to create. For more, see http://footage.stealthisfilm.com/video/15
This interview was recorded for Steal This Film II
. The project tries to bring new people into the leagues of those now prepared to think 'after intellectual property', and think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity. This is a film that has no single author. It makers encourage its 'theft', downloading, distribution and screening, and have made the entire film and its footage available for download in HDV format, on their website and on Pirate Bay.
Interview with Yochai Benkler
Steal This Film II
Manhattan, New York
Many of the battles
represented first by the DMCA
in the late 90s,
later on by the move towards trusted computing
and the effort to embed the same idea
have to do with trying to tame
digital computation and communications networks.
So that the same model,
encapsulating it in a discrete unit
and selling it,
remains feasible, remains sustainable.
How should we think about this?
Is it a good thing or a bad thing
that it's becoming harder, maybe impossible
to encapsulate information in discrete units
and sell them?
The simplistic answer
the answer that you get from Hollywood
and the recording industry
is, it's a disaster!
How will creators ever make money?
Before we buy that,
we have to remember that music
didn't begin with the phonograph,
and it won't end with the peer to peer network.
Theatre, narrative, stories,
didn't begin with copyright or end with it.
All information, knowledge and culture in our society
is supported by a diverse set
of revenue flows and business models
Not only the copyright system.
So most of our scientific research,
All of our humanities research,
is built on a model of
education and government funding
through universities and non-profits,
not at all based on copyright.
Most of our classical music today,
much of jazz,
much of music that is not roughly
in the segment of popular music,
is based on,
a combination of public performances,
and public support.
Much of how musicians live
is based on live performances,
musicians, not the recording industry,
the recording industry is very much based on,
the units themselves but the musicians,
very much live off public performances.
All of these modes of revenue,
all of these revenue streams
aren't threatened by the
de-stablisation of the copy at all.
what's de-stablised is, the set of business models
that depend on the copy as bottleneck,
That creates some problems
for certain business models,
it is far from an impending disaster,
for our cultural production system.
When one tries to think about what the world
of what artistic creation
might look like, after the copy,
the first thing to remember
is that different forms of art,
and different forms of creative expression,
have very different cost structures
and very different
social practices of consumption
And so there is no single answer,
after copyright for all forms of creation.
Music which has been most in the spotlight,
is actually relatively cheap to produce
in terms of physical capital necessarily
It is not the large movie studios,
First of all artists own their musical instruments,
For a long time the cost of recording,
or the equipment to record
has become much less expensive,
for relatively high quality.
The distribution network now doesn't need,
millions of copies to be stamped out,
or hundreds of thousands of copies
to be stamped out.
instead you can distribute on the net,
so all the core costs of music production
have gone to a level that,
artists who care about their music
can largely self-fund.
Now where will they get revenue?
Musicians by and large, musical performers,
live from performances, not from royalties.
It's also the case that for
some of the rights that exsist,
it is not the copy
but the right that makes the difference.
so for example when the musician writes music
and the music is embedded in a Hollywood film,
It is not the copy that protects them
but one of the rights,
that will remain between large scale organisations,
that have models of appropriation
and individual musicians.
That right will remain,
they don't need to control the single copy
against users in order to capture those revenues.
And so when you look at the relatively low cost,
when you look at the overwhelming importance
of performances to the revenue of artists,
and when you look at the possibilities,
that we're beginning to see now musicians experimenting,
with online downloading and
paypal based payment systems.
You begin to see if not the complete solution,
at least the makings, or the components,
of how artists can make a living,
in this new environment.
The thing to remember is that the recording industry,
has perfected, the art of extracting all of the value
from the CDs, and earlier the records, to itself,
as the marketer and externalising almost all the
cost and risk onto the creators.
And so in that system,
when you suddenly take out the CD,
the artists lose relatively little,
the recording industry loses a lot.
And the battle over the CD is a battle
over the recording industry not over the musician.
Things are different when we look at film.
Film is more expensive to create by and large,
but film also has two competing
and stable systems around the world.
There is significant public funding
for non-commercial film,
and that has been the source of a lot of some
of the most creative and insightful work around.
And then there's Hollywood, now, Hollywood,
has retained control over a significant
proportion of the revenues
from public performance.
So the social practice of going out to the movies,
the social practice of going out
to a musicians performance,
is what funds musicians and the recording industry
hasn't captured that
because they were focusing on the CD.
That's not the same with theatre distribution of film
more than half of the revenues of film come from
public performances, that's not going away.
Remember that the copy,
the single copy used by a consumer,
as a mode of appropriating film revenues,
is about twenty years old thats all.
Before that it was all theatre based
or attention based through television.
So both of those modes, attention based,
and we're seeing that attention based revenues,
are central to the web, and going out to the
movies, both of those remain sources of,
tens of billions of dollars a year
to support the industry.
So it's possible that we'll see a contraction
of the video creation industry,
well it's possible we'll see some displacement from
relatively high production value blockbusters,
that then can be replicated through multiple media,
to a few of those based on theatre appropriation,
and a bit more of smaller scale,
amateur video production
people will spend more of their time,
But again it's not the end of film,
it might be a contraction of the Hollywood model,
it might be an increase in the ethicacy of the
publicly supported model,
but in that industry too
it's far from doomsday.
I think more generally, the availability,
of cheap video recorders
that are relatively high quality.
The availability of cheap distribution mechanisms.
The availability of opportunities
for people to see film.
respond to it care about it, opens up a new domain
of non commercial film production
or small commercial film production,
by which I mean,
something that won't be the primary way in which
somebody makes a living, but is a part of
the mix of things they do for their life
To allow thousands or tens of thousands,
or possibly millions of more people
to engage in film production.
The other thing thats happening
and thats maybe more short-term,
but it may actually not.
Is that as people get into the habit of spending
time viewing much shorter pieces
caring more about the content of the narrative
than the high production value,
that too opens up
a new opportunities for all sorts of creative people,
again both commercial and non commercial.
To use these platforms for new innovative
forms of using the film medium.