Course blog for CSP 11 (Fall 2012) @ Occidental College

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The relationship between media industries and their consumers has always been a rocky one. It’s become quite unclear whether said industries are there to give the people what they want or to force unwanted products down their throats. The media industries have the mentality that they and only they possess the right to create and innovate new things. This in itself hurts the companies because many of them are still stuck in the past instead of trying to adapt to the many facets of the modern world. This problem could be circumvented if they were to acknowledge that authorship is not a solo act, but should be treated as a collaboration between the industry and the consumer. What they fail to see is that such collaboration could actually aid their company’s success based on the fact that consumers are the ones utilizing these products, so why not let them have a say? Patry adds to this argument that “Innovation is the solution because innovation provides the means by which new content can be created and then distributed to consumers in a form and manner consumers desire” (Patry 22).
As a result of the industry’s current state, they seem to have taken absolute control over the consumer. This aspect of the industry/consumer relationship, albeit in an exaggerated manner, was depicted with a hint of accuracy in the “HUMANCENTiPAD” episode of South Park. Showing how owning a certain product, in this case the iPad, can “elevate someone’s status in society” and make them feel like part of an elite group truly speaks to how controlling today’s industries are. They have practically brainwashed the consumers into believing that if they don’t own their product, then they are outcasts. This exclusionary tactic is also a way that the companies sell more products because the people who already own them don’t ever want to be the outcasts, so they make a point to purchase the subsequent products. When Kyle accepts the Terms and Conditions of iTunes and thinks nothing of it, it struck me that majority of today’s society actually does this. “Who just agrees to something they don’t read?” recounted several of the characters in the episode (Parker “HUMANCENTiPAD”). What if we were actually signing ourselves over to a company for experimentation? We wouldn’t know it because we didn’t read it.
The confusing nature and loopholes is another major problem within the copyright system. The system’s confusing nature has led to people being thrown into a “digital guillotine” in which some customers of ISPs have been presumed guilty without any sort of due process (Patry 13). The Terms and Conditions of YouTube explicitly say that “YouTube reserves the right to remove Content without prior notice,” and it’s clauses like this one that get people in the end (“Terms of Service”). If more people saw this then there’d be much more fighting back instead of consumers just accepting what happens to them. Users of websites like YouTube shouldn’t be getting trampled over, they deserve to know the reason as to why their content has been taken down.
Unless consumers actively attempt to reform the current copyright system, the media industries will continue to take advantage of them in any possible way. The only way that the two sides will ever be able to coexist humanely is if the industries acknowledge the necessity of the consumers, whom create the difference between the industry’s failure and its success.

Works Cited

“HUMAN CENTiPAD.” South Park. Dir. Trey Parker. Comedy Central. 27 April 2011. Television. 8 September 2012.

Patry, William. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2009. Print.

“Terms of Service.” YouTube. 9 June 2010. Web. 8 September 2012.