There’s two ways to approach this weeks topic. There’s the obvious one, talking about media regulations, legislation and restriction in a simple, rational sense and recounting how this dictates certain aspects of the media/space relationship; then there’s the weirder one where I ramble on about the philosophical and metaphysical implications of media restriction, the shifting relationship between media and mechanisms of control as media ceases to necessitate a physical form.
The word counts for this subject are weirdly long though, so I’m just gonna do both.
First, as old mate Gambino suggests in the .gif above, let’s talk about what is probably the most personally interesting development in the regulation of Australian media of late, the site-blocking potential of Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 and the general cock up that was the Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) debacle. So, first up, the federal government pushed through an amendment to the 1968 Copyright act last year that would allow copyright holders (media companies like Time Warner, Village Roadshow, EMI, etc) to request that sites hosting or enabling the unlicensed distribution of copyrighted material be blocked. Specifically the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 states that …
“the Federal Court of Australia may, on application by the owner of a copyright, grant an injunction referred to in subsection (2) if the Court is satisfied that:
(a) a carriage service provider provides access to an online location outside Australia; and
(b) the online location infringes, or facilitates an infringement of, the copyright; and
(c) the primary purpose of the online location is to infringe, or to facilitate the infringement of, copyright (whether or not in Australia).”
Home made gifs and a legit legislation in one blog post. What will they think of next.
The DBC debacle basically involved DBC LLC lawyers attempting to legally get an ISP, specifically iiNet, to give up the names of the 4726 iiNet customers that illegally downloaded the film (Shepard, 2016). They failed and it was all pretty embarrassing.
So, there’s that. A real life example of someone trying to prevent me from accessing media. Not that I would pirate. The problem now is relating this to space, because this all exists in the ethereal. As much as I would love to quote Hagerstrand and the obvious capability and coupling constraints, all I’m left to discuss is the obvious authoritative constraint. An authority, specifically the government, has declared that I should not be able to access something in a particular space, that being the intrinsically intangible cyber space. It’s worth mentioning though that it’s, literally, the easiest thing in the world to bypass. Moving on…
This leads up to the great philosophical section of the discussion. As the split between media and physical space grows, those that previously regulated media have been caught trying to dominate the immaterial nature of modern media with a philosophy tied to physical media. Whereas in the past, to steal a movie meant to physically deprive someone else of their copy, the digitization of media allows for effectively limitless recreation without deprivation.As the media has outgrown the physical necessity, legal regulators failed to understand the shift to the digital and still carry on like video piracy is theft. When it’s only, like, sorta theft.
And this, dear reader, is when we come to the crux of not only the topic, but this class. Media is no longer restricted to the cinema or the living room. Moreover, where once media would interact with the physical space and the humans within it, the internet has switched this and allowed for the creation of an intangible, ethereal media space that we interact with. Coming to grips with the new digital age is not simply a matter of understanding that movies aren’t on DVDs, but rather the very concept of space has forever changed.
Campbell, S 2016, ‘Village Roadshow Using New Laws To Block Australian Pirate Sites’, Gizmodo, 18 February, viewed 1/10/16 http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/02/village-roadshow-goes-to-australian-court-to-block-solarmovie-piracy-website/
Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015
Shepard, F 2016, ‘The Dallas Buyers Club case has been abandoned but illegal downloaders may still face trouble’, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 February, viewed 1/10/16 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-12/dallas-buyers-club-case-abandoned-illegal-dowloads-pirate/7162180