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On Black March

I'm going to sopasoapbox here for a second guys, sorry. But I keep seeing posts about Black March, and while I agree with it in principle, I can't imagine it having any significant effect on the MPAA, RIAA, etc. Why? Because while we are still part of the demographic that everyone courts... most of us don't spend a lot of money on our entertainment.

Instead of being symbolic with a lack-of-buying things we rarely, if ever, buy, I think it's far more important to be symbolic with what we do buy. Because there are media corporations out there that are doing it right. Research. Find the ones that are using business models that don't rely on the government knocking down doors to protect their income source. Support businesses that will kill Hollywood. Support small labels, support small pressess, support independent film makers. Support people that share your idea of how art should be shared. It costs a little more than simply giving up mass-market entertainment, but this way you still have entertainment, and it'll have an impact. Giant corporations getting a little less from each of us isn't going to make a difference. But a few hundred dollars more in the pocket of a business that's just a handful of people? That makes a big difference to them (and to the people who watch things like market trends).

Look at the difference it's made for the music industry. There's a vibrant, well-recognized network of independent labels and artists now--in part because the music industry was first to be hit by mass pirating (and we do need to call it that--let's not pretend Megaupload wasn't piracy) and didn't have the back-up it would have had from the other industries if they'd realized that one day the internet would be faster and their business models would be in danger as well. But mostly, the change in the music industry came because the people who cared about music spent their money on the music they cared about... not to support to discourage an entire industry. People didn't stop buying or pirating music because the RIAA fought back, but many people did stop buying music that the RIAA was behind. The people who continued spending money on music spent it on albums and labels that they really cared about.

I think this is the system we need--pay for what you enjoy. Because in this age, pretty much everyone who puts their work online is a busker: anyone walking by is going to be able to hear it and see it for free, but we'll only get to keep the ones we're actually willing to throw a few dollars to. Let's not waste our time making a show of ignoring the guy with the slick tent and the $10k sound system, let's just stick to the outskirts and make a show of putting a 20 in the bearded guy's guitar case.

And thus concludes one of the most hipster arguments I've made recently. You can now go about your business.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
21st Jan, 2012 16:37 (UTC)
In terms of media consumption (and certainly, media consumption I actually spend money for) music is the overwhelming bulk for me. And in that case, I do my best to spend money in support of the artists I enjoy. (Yet don't necessarily feel compelled to shell out any bucks to get Beyonce's latest single that has just happened to worm its way into my brain.)

As for movies, TV, books, etc. - Well, I rarely spend a dime. (Most of my books come from the library.) So honestly, my threat to boycott media industries during March is insignificant, to say the least.

But I don't think I'm a typical consumer, on LJ or elsewhere. People in fandom shell out big bucks for the media they enjoy. Sure, they may illegally download new episodes of their favorite shows as they become available, but then those same people will buy the boxed set when it comes out. I know the people on my flist are constantly seeing movies, and buying books, and contributing untold dollars to the media machine. (We're fandom: it's what we do!)

Whether or not we exist in large enough numbers to make a "significant" existence in big companies' sales? Well, who knows? But I think what we have to rely on most is the snowball effect of all the protests going on - that one person's decision to take a stand influences another. And really, I think any dip in sales is likely to be noticed by the media companies.

An addendum should be made to support small companies and even large ones that have come out against the censorship measures. However, I still think a general boycott is a good idea.
21st Jan, 2012 17:17 (UTC)
I'm not saying the boycott is a bad idea, or that people shouldn't do it, I'm just suggesting that there are other ways to supplement it that will help make more of a difference. These companies already know we're unhappy, but it isn't going to stop them from doing what they're doing, because they're convinced that they can't make money if people share things with each other or try them out for free before they buy them. Boycotts mostly work if they actually make a dent in profits, which I don't think will happen if we only take a month off. If we framed it as a way of proving that we do spend money on these things and aren't just pirates, it'd probably be more poweful, but we're not framing it that way. (I have a lot of issues with how the actual Black March image is worded, actually, especially the half-quotes around "piracy" and "conspiracy" in regards to megaupload. Has no one read about its founders? Has no one used megaupload? This is not a thing we should be making into a rallying point, because it's one of the most clear-cut instances of internet piracy ever.)

And it's not fandom I'm concerned about--most of what I've seen for Black March has been in other parts of the internet, where people mostly just pirate things and maybe buy a big-ticket video game once in a while. (Video gamers have a huge issue with DRM that they haven't found a way to avoid and still get the things they want, because non-PC video games are still reliant on game systems that are easily-controlled by their producers, which means access to indie games is still through the giant central corporation--which is another problem altogether (and is also why I'm very wary of Apple's business models in regards to computers).)

One thing I've noticed over the last few days, with all the SOPA/PIPA protests, is that most people are not on the same page as LJ/Reddit/etc. This will probably snowball within this sphere, but is unlikely to gain any traction with a significant number of people that aren't heavy internet users. (On Wednesday, I was flying interference in my office about "the entire internet being taken down" and "Obama shutting down wikipedia," and most people hadn't even heard of SOPA... which was, sadly not uncommon.)
21st Jan, 2012 18:57 (UTC)
You can say that about just about any bill being passed through congress: that most people haven't heard of it. :P

There's undoubtedly a lot of people out there who just want to continue getting their media for free, and couldn't give a damn about the underlying issues of censorship and lobbyist control of our government. Being a huge fan of television shows that are unavailable / not readily available in the US, I want to keep getting shows like Sherlock for free, without having to wait and then purchase the DVDs. (I don't think it's too much to ask. I may not pay a license fee, but with the amount of money I've shelled out for BBC merchandise over the years, I think I've made up for it.)

So yeah: there's going to be assholes in the movement. Not everyone will be in it for the same (or the right) reasons. I'm kind of OK with that.

If anything, people need to be more vocal about how they'd like to see the protest and the discussion framed, and put into words exactly what they hope to accomplish. I posted the "Black March" graphic on my journal as-is as a quick way to broadcast an idea I'm mostly on-board with. Closer to March, though, I'll come up with my own wording for what I hope to accomplish. I think your point, that we should send the message of how much money we do spend on media, is a good one. And we can damage their first quarter profits. As for the long term? Well, it would be hard to sustain.

Anyway. More discussion is good, is what I'm saying, I think. And it makes me happy when people can actually be moved to do do things, and inconvenience themselves in the name of a cause larger than themselves.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )