The counterbalance to this is ability to produce your own artworks, at several important levels.
- First, it needs to be legal and possible to do the actual artwork. This would compare to being allowed to own recording equipment at all, if you're a musician. This is tough to lose- it would be tyrannical and indefensible to eliminate it, though you'll see just this happening indirectly- you're taxed on blank media by the industries, supposedly to defend against 'pirates'.
- Second, it needs to be legal and possible to distribute your artwork. There are some ways to challenge this, though it is tough. This is the level of ability to record your own work on media that is played on industry standard consumer level players, such as CD players. Soon it will be a question of making your own DVD desktop films and being able to give friends your work to play on their consumer DVD players. I _think_ DVD already punishes independents in that you can't do that yet, you have to be a licensee for huge sums or you don't have ability to record that format and play it on a consumer deck. That's bad, very bad, and it must be changed.
- Third, you need to have the ability to go somewhere and get 1000 CDs/DVDs pressed. Here, CDs have traditionally been strong- there are many small outfits that will burn a case of CDs for you. I think there is a concerted effort going on to make it so no such availability will be there for DVDs. If you have a hit underground rock album and enough grassroots/net distribution to justify pressing them in the thousands, you can do that today. I'm not aware of any way to legally and practically have a hit underground _film_ and press DVDs of it in the thousands, and this is a very serious problem and concern for freedom. We are not talking about pirates here, we are talking about the voice of the artist or independent filmmaker.
- Finally, you get up to extremely heavy distribution. There may be a problem in getting along with the big entertainment trusts, but if you're playing on those levels you already have your own distribution networks and can cut deals from a position of strength, by shipping X many products and saying 'There. I could move 6X as many with your distribution. You can have a cut of that, or you can sit by and I'll get someone else for it or grow until I'm doing it myself'. At this level the artist does not need that much protection as he or she has _arrived_ and is doing business effectively, with extensive distribution already.
That's basically 4 levels. Currently, with regard to CD-Roms, the levels to watch out for are second and third- if new consumer CD hardware refuses to play the existing format, it would be suicidal but would also be a way of 'taking back' control of CD authoring from the independents. More significantly, the people who can press 1000 CDs for less than a grand have to be protected- if they are harassed out of business, the independent would have to try releasing their work on blue dye-CDs pressed one at a time, and that doesn't scale. Access to the industrial duplicators _must_ remain.
With regard to DVDs, it looks like the entire first three levels are at serious risk. I'm not certain you can burn the DVD format at home with your own material: THAT has got to change (rejoicing if I'm wrong here, but I kind of doubt it.). By the same token, if you can't burn it you can't give it to a friend, the datasizes are not comparable to the industry offerings, and if it's made illegal to 'pirate' defined as burn movie content onto a DVD (backing up HDs OK but video content, you're not allowed to?) then level two is shot- if you distribute your own work burned in DVD format you could get done for piracy even though it's your own work. Finally, the third level is the volume producers- if they are stamped out in the name of antipiracy it is an incredible imposition on the independent artist, because without that ability to work hard enough to earn the money to ship the commercial grade content on standard media in volume, nobody is ever going to get to stage 4, the stage of jockeying for position and making room for yourself at the table. To do that you _have_ to be able to move the units yourself and present the big distributors with a fait accompli- giving them an unsolicited tape will not cut it, you have to show them your network and the amount of units you're currently doing.
Are we going to let the industry BAN us from producing artworks as independents? (insert 'poetic license' joke here!
:P ) Are we going to focus so hard on the desire to run off a copy of the Matrix for personal use, that we're _blind_ to the steady erosion of our abilities to create in the digital age? How far will it get before something is done? Who is willing to consider this in terms of the rapidly approaching era of desktop filmmakers (live, CGI, cel-animated, all types) and the systematic slaughter of all of their distribution options?!?
The _first_ order of business should be getting control of the ability to master consumer DVDs, just as we are able to master audio CDs legally and unharassed. If that means losing the encryption so be it- there are important issues at stake for the millenium. The technology _will_ come, and people _will_ be able to do desktop filmmaking. It's a question of whether the consumer media becomes a wholly controlled property of vast conglomerates, or whether individual artists will be allowed to pursue their artwork using common consumer media for output. You can burn a CD and play it for people (especially if they have a CD-Rom, but maybe even on their CD players.) What if you were only allowed to record on DATs and had to go to Atlantic Records to be allowed to have it made into a CD?