Monday, October 12, 2009

Nate Anderson on the Fear and Loathing of Technological Innovations

Then what of the national throat?
Will it not weaken?
What of the national chest?
Will it not shrink?"
John Philip Sousa
"The Menace of Mechnical Music"
Appleton's Magazine (1906)

Link to October 11 ars technica post, "100 years of Big Content fearing technology—in its own words".

Excerpt: 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.

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