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All the "innovation" we can stand

August 18, 2007

I was on a public policy panel in Seattle this week and had an exchange with another panelist that bears repeating. In the context of a discussion of the woes that have befallen the music industry at the hands of technology “innovators” such as Kazaa, Grokster and YouTube, I was admonished that as a matter of policy it was important to protect “innovation”.

My response to that was, no more of that kind of “innovation”, please, we’ve had all the “innovation” we can stand. The kind of “innovation” we get from the technology community by and large involves them getting their hands on our work product for free. I never see any “innovation” that helps artists get paid–anything–for their work aside from SNOCAP. (And SNOCAP’s filtering system could solve the YouTube problem very quickly if YouTube wanted it solved.)

My friend Andrew Bridges was in the audience. Andrew has made something of a career out of defending clients against lawsuits by the RIAA, and I think it is fair to say, hates the music industry, or at least the organized music industry. Andrew seized upon my “no more innovation” line (which, by the way, brought the house down) and said that he was going to hang the statement “No more innovation” around my neck and that he’d already “sent off emails” to start that process, although it didn’t occur to me until it was too late to ask exactly who in the world would be so interested in what I had to say that Andrew would feel the need to send off emails to some unnamed person. (Now, I really like Andrew Bridges and I take strong issue with the characterization of Andrew by some that he is the Roy Cohn of Silicon Valley. Cohn represented convicted criminals, and none of Andrew’s clients have been convicted of any crime yet, so the analogy is inapt.)

That line was clearly the use of irony in an attempt to point out that the only kind of innovation we seem to get most frequently from the tech community involves them getting rich off of not paying us anything.

I’m sure–or I hope–that Andrew won’t stoop to the same kind of ad hominum attack so common with the mob–that is not the Mob, but the mob–but in case he does, the record speaks for itself.

We call these things jokes, people. I’m sorry, I have to laugh occasionally at the situation.

OK, OK…laugh a lot.

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