OH, the Tubes! or, Why I Don’t MySpace.

Thanks to everyone’s fake anchorman, Sen. Ted Steven’s tubular understanding of the workings of the Internets is gaining much more popular recognition. Now the NY Times has taken note, as well as the LA Times, and the Washington Post.

But one blogger apparently got his MySpace account temporarily suspended because he posted a parody song of Stevens’ internets tubes rant. Because Stevens’ comments were made during a Senate meeting, they are not under any copyright protection whatsoever. That didn’t stop MySpace for jumping the gun, even though they restored the account later. The blogger, Andrew Raff, told Wired News:

“I’m not at all upset about MySpace taking the page down — just curious as to why,” he wrote. “I have yet to receive a reply to my inquiry as to why this account was deleted…. I am very curious about the reasons why they took this down — if it is a case of extreme caution with regards to copyright or whether it is the result of some other influence (perhaps even good taste).”

Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge rightfully questions the MySpace incident, given that MySpace was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp this year, and that network neutrality threatens the passage of the Senate telecomm bill that would hand over big wads of power and money to Murdoch’s cable and entertainment interests.

Which leads me to the reason why I have not set up camp over at MySpace. I’ll admit that I’ve been tempted, especially noticing how effectively the site allows people to network together, and how it might help me connect with friends I’ve lost touch with.

But the Murdoch connection and the MySpace terms of service are really too much to swallow.

From leading the media campaign in support of Margaret Thatcher, and making Fox News the propaganda arm of the Bush Administration, to belligerently agitating for widespread media deregulation, there is very little good in politics and life that Murdoch and News Corp. stand for or do. Quite obviously, all that I do with mediageek stands in pretty stark opposition with everything Murdoch does.

I had this conversation with my pal John Anderson a couple of weeks ago, with him equating getting onto MySpace as getting in bed with Murdoch and Fox News.

If nothing else, creating independent media is about having control over distribution and transmission, not just production and creation. That’s why the Indymedia movement, for all its growing pains, is still important. Because Indymedia is a movement that attempts to take the shackles off distribution, so that corporate control can’t suddenly wipe a picture, story or video right of the internet.

That’s why I fund my internet hosting for mediageek myself. It is a small financial burden, but the tradeoff of having control is worth it. In my ideal world, I’d host the server myself in my own house, but I don’t quite have the resources to pull that off. But I want and need this blog and website to be subject to as few terms of services as possible. I don’t want some middle manager jumping the gun over something I’ve posted that might be infringing or just offensive.

I guess it’s kind of lucky that I’m not hip enough to have gotten on MySpace before the Murdoch buyout. It would kind of suck to have to close up a useful page because the MySpace boys decided to cash in to Rupert.

It is cool that free services like YouTube, Blogger, and even MySpace are there to allow people to post interesting content to the internet without charge. But the control these companies gain through their popularity should give us pause — how will they use their power?

At the beginning of this decade, there was this cool site called MP3.com that let bands post their songs on the internet for free. But then the site got bought, and the new owners wiped out everything. Ostensibly, their actions were more about finances and change of plan than politics — but did that matter to bands who lost their vital presence on the internet?

It’s a simple idea that gets proven time and again: ownership matters.


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