Monday, June 05, 2006

blogocombat: Boing Boing vs. MSM

As a gut reaction, I'm cheering on Boing Boing in its battle against a "first blood" manifestation (i.e., the media rep attacked first) of the MSM (mainstream media).

I'll delve into this more deeply, but as hardcore bloggers, we must have certain trained reflexes when we leap into some juicy blogocombat zone. This Boing Boing vs. MSM story is really hairy. You can smell the stench of an Old Economy dying and flailing around in its filthy ugly death spasms. Good riddance, I say.

Boing Boing's hostile act against a mainstream media player is wonderful, charming blogocombat at its best. The frontal bluntal. Whoooosh. Done. Repercussion-injurious, vainglorious-triumphus.

That's how you have to fight in blogo-land. Massive, lightning retaliation. As hateful and precise as possible, with no personal emotions, just a professional explosive saber of loathing and domination down upon the opposing, quivering side.

To give you the big picture, I got an email from Dave today. Dave Taylor emails me, and a bunch of other bloggers, when he's on the soapbox, usually taking an extreme position that is untypical of the blogosphere. I usually argue against him. That's how we bond as friends, I suppose. See, blogo-land is very different from the legendary, semi-apocryphal offline world.

So to ease things up speedily, I'll just quote Dave's entire post, then my clever, alchemy comment in response.

But my "fear and ignore" verbage comes from Dave's email to me, in which he says he's concerned about corporations being repulsed by Boing Boing's hostile retaliation, since they already fear and ignore the blogosphere.

Yeah. That's always been our strategy. Make them fear and ignore us as we dominate the information field with our grassroots web democracy revolution.

"Baker McKenzie Tries to Protect FIFA World Cup So Boing Boing Attacks?"


Let me get this straight.

Infront Sports & Media, the company that owns the broadcast rights to the most popular sporting event in the world, the 2006 FIFA World Cup, is trying to protect its digital interests by having its law firm, the massive Baker & McKenzie, send out pre-emptive warnings to very popular Web sites about the copyright of said content, and the blogosphere is already turning on the attack?

Exhibit A: Consider this sophomoric response by Mark Frauenfelder, part of the editorial team at Boing Boing, to what I will conceed is a rather heavy-handed notice: "Hideous company sends Boing Boing a pre-emptive nastygram".

Yes, the letter is heavy-handed, with threats like "you should be aware that Infront and its agents are actively monitoring your website and others to identify unlawful activity..." but I am again dismayed at the reaction to legal and corporate activity in the blogosphere, and from Boing Boing, one of the most popular weblogs on the Internet.

What bothers me about this situation is that it's just inevitable that this is going to prove a tinderbox and within 72 hours there'll be dozens of bloggers following in the footsteps of Boing Boing, trying to humiliate and harass the Baker & McKenzie team, without anyone even bothering to ask what I believe is the key question:

How do companies protect their content rights online?

I know that there are organizations like the perhaps even more heavy-handed Motion Picture Association of America who like to sue old ladies and kids who haven't figured out that illegal downloads are, well, illegal, but at least with the iTunes Music Store and others, there's some effort in the online community and industry at large to figure out how to create legal movie and video downloads.

But what of live broadcast? Between TiVO units - and the dozens of digital video recorders ranging from Mac and PC-based solutions to Dish Network and cable TV DVRs - and the seamy world of Bittorrent and the like, it's usually only a few hours after something is broadcast that it shows up for free download or copying.

Say what you like, it's hard to deny that this is actively defrauding the copyright holders and if you had just bid hundreds of millions for the broadcast and later Internet rights to a major event how would YOU work to defend those rights and ensure that you could later monetize that content?

(Oh, and if you're like the editors at Boing Boing and just too Americentric to not know the staggering popularity of FIFA World Cup football (think the NBA + the NFL + the Superbowl), here's just one number to think about: 215 different nations will be glued to their sets, watching the games).

Maybe the letter from Baker & McKenzie was the legal equivalent of a bull in the proverbial china shop, but I am just plain disappointed that the Boing Boing people have returned fire with its daft threats back to the law firm:

"Baker & McKenzie, be on alert: henceforth, Boing Boing will be actively monitoring your website to identify dumbass activity and will, if necessary, take appropriate action to point out instances of wasting clients' money by sending out unnecessary and obnoxious warning letters."

In this situation, I am confident that I will be the lone business blogger with this particular viewpoint and that waves of other bloggers will no doubt aggressively attack my position. As a content producer myself, however, I believe passionately in the importance and legality of copyright ownership and want to retain rights to my own works, so I can completely understand the position of Infront Sports & Media.

If you do disagree, let me ask you a question. What is it that you don't understand about this situation that you think Boing Boing is acting honorably and appropriately in this situation?

Posted by Dave Taylor at June 5, 2006 12:10 AM


I want the corporate Enronish world to fear and ignore the blogosphere. I don't want their wet pants joining the blogosphere and polluting our realm with their DRMs and copyrights and all that crappy Old Economy BS.

Broadcast vs. podcast/blogcast/webcast.

Broadcast is dead and is being eaten alive by the geeks. Let's hasten it on and kick it while it's down. MSM has lied and bullied people long enough. Now it's time to destroy them while they're weak and confused.

Posted by: Vaspers the Grate on June 5, 2006 08:56 AM


...None of the commentators here have addressed what I believe is the key question: if you were Infront, how would YOU be protecting your online rights to the broadcast and later streaming of the World Cup games and events?

Posted by: Dave Taylor on June 5, 2006 01:46 PM

Here you go then: "protecting your online rights to the broadcast and later streaming of...etc." is Old Economy, poor outmoded strategy, like wishing there were no mosquitoes at night, and making laws against their biting, but reality happens.

Fighting, protecting, safeguarding, DRM, exclusive rights to a public event, etc. are all Old Economy drivel, and fading fast.

As Alvin Toffler is announcing in "Revolutionary Wealth", there is a Korporate Katrina coming, and it is this "protect broadcast and every other conceivable format of media and distribution of this PRODUCT" that will be devastated by the New Share Economy Technology, driven by the faux inevitability engine of The Technological Imperative.

Technology and info dissemination is racing ahead of law and command-and-control territorial organizations.

Public events occur in the digital effluvium now, as YouTube has demonstrated, and everything is accessible to everyone in any sequence, in any format, at any time, in any amount.

Corporations and media conglomerates must launch guerilla marketing forces, in niches and crannies, to work with, and not whine against, the new methods and tools of "content creation, distribution, and consumption".

Posted by: Vaspers the Grate on June 5, 2006 02:11 PM


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