The dominant discourse pushed by producers is that intellectual property supports creativity and innovation by giving income to those who dedicate themselves. The corresponding assumption that some artists are more successful than others on the basis of quality underestimates the influence of marketing and public exposure. In reality, content as property enforces a status quo.
Content as Product
According to Lessig (2005, p. 66-79), piracy is wrong when it reduces the income of artists and goes on to suggest that the law needs to change as technology does because technology creates new opportunities for people to experience their culture. Lessig argues for a state of balance between producer and consumer access through limitations to copyright. But how then should copyright be enforced?
While it might be possible to enforce public exhibition of content in public places, as illustrated by Stehbens & Fisher (2006), the private use of content has traditionally drawn on the restrictions of mass (CD's, paper, video tape etc.).
The first solution has been to denounce and shut down the online circulation. The media appears to treat this as similar to a police crackdown. Primedia (2006) specifically draws attention to the guilty by association by opening the article with the legal pursuit of search engines and Riley (2006) titles the article “Recording TV no longer a crime”, which serves to suggest the normalcy of piracy. Moses (2006) argues that infringement corresponds with customer dissatisfaction by claiming that the motive for downloading television corresponds to sloppy scheduling.
The second solution, according to Doctorow (2006), has been Digital Rights Management (or D.R.M.) systems which use closed source encoding to disable the widespread copying and or certain uses for that content.
McBride (2006) provides an interesting example of how industry stands to benefit from file-sharing technology with the plan by Warner Brothers to use BitTorrent to transfer the content at a faster pace than a centralized server, and operating on the basis of selling content cheaply with anti-piracy encoding. This implies, along with other discourses about iTunes, that industry is not anti-technology.
The problem of intellectual property, thus, is that in order for content to be a product at all, there needs to be exclusivity in its distribution. Once the product leaves its manufacturer, what rights should the individual have to that content?
Consider the different ways that Riley (2006) from The Australian and Skatssoon (2006) from ABC News Online treat the same news about recent copyright reform plans. While the former places an emphasis on the consumer interest in content (presumably as people who only want to copy for personal use), the latter draws attention to limitations placed on creators who seek to share and manipulate content.