New choke points

The Nieman Journalism Lab is wrapping up 2011 with a series of guest posts looking at what the new year will bring in journalism. I was particularly taken with one that Dan Gillmor posted last week, in which he claimed that "2012 will be the year of the content-controller oligopoly".

Because the Nieman folks focus on journalism, Gillmor names several choke points (search engines, wire-line ISPs, mobile carriers and Apple) but bypasses Amazon, which in the book and some magazine spaces could be considered a throttle on open dissemination of content.

Gillmor also talks directly about what he calls "the copyright cartel" (in his view, Hollywood and its allies) and efforts of both Congress and the current administration to reduce or eliminate the use of due process in taking down Internet content.

The debate about the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) and its companion bill, "Protect IP", often focuses on movies and music, but many of the supporters of the bill are so-called traditional publishers. Gizmodo has compiled a list of firms supporting SOPA, including ten trade, four higher-education and two periodical publishers, as well as the AAP.

With all of these organizations vying for a seat at the table, Gillmor sees 2012 as a year in which we move from an oligopoly of content providers to an oligopoly of content controllers. He hopes journalists start to more vigorously examine the implications of legal initiatives like SOPA. That's a 2012 resolution I could get behind.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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