Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Possible (Fictional) Future of Content Creators

The latest trend on YouTube is #WTFU (Where’s The Fair Use?). This refers to the content bots on youtube flagging videos created by content providers despite the fact that all the flagged videos follow the guidelines of the Fair Use doctrine.

Better people than I have explained what's going on here. These people have also explained how the content bots hurt the content providers’ business model. I am not here to add to any of those conversations. What I will do is try to show how this may have affected content creators living in the fictional world of Star Trek
in the 24th century. I can already hear the cries of Wait, WHAT? Yes, I’m about to postulate how youtube’s draconian measures may have already affected a fictional future.

Has anyone else noticed the lack of content creators in the world of Star Trek? Because I sure have. Think about this. They have the holodeck, which has the potential to be the greatest content creator ever, but very few people actually create good, original content with it. Most people in the Star Trek universe use the holodeck to experience content already made. Let’s name the few content creators in Star Trek:

Reginald Barclay – He made at least two holographic works (the garden in which the Enterprise crew is depicted differently, to say the least; and he helped Alexander create a depiction of the Ancient West).

Felix – Doctor Bashir’s friend who also created two holodeck programs (Vic Fontaine’s Lounge, and the Secret Agent program in which Bashir is a super spy).

The Voyager Crew – They took a holonovel (Insurrection Alpha) originally created by Lieutenant Tuvok and expanded on the story, each crewmember putting their own spin on the story.

The Doctor (Voyager) – He created a holonovel (Photons Be Free) about the struggles of a holographic doctor on a fictional starship (obviously based on his experiences on Voyager, which paints the rest of the crew in an unfavorable light).

Various authors of children’s holonovels and Quark’s holosuite programs.

Notice how all of the above holographic programs are original works. Almost all other holodeck programs depicted in Star Trek (and there are many) are either adapted from other works (Macbeth, Sherlock Holmes, Captain Proton, Dixon Hill, etc.), training programs, games, or various people, places, and things.

You would think that given access to the holodeck, almost everyone on board these starships and space stations would be creating tons of imaginative, original content. But we are never shown this. I postulate that the punishing of today’s content creators by youtube have crushed creativity and the imaginative spirit to such a degree that there would be fewer and fewer independent content creators over the centuries (and the possible future conflicts of the Star Trek future, such as the Post-Atomic Horror, and the wars with the Klingons and Romulans would not help matters). In fact, notice how, other than research papers, very few Star Trek characters (major or minor) have published or otherwise distributed original works such as books, art, music, etc.

But there is hope. By the time Star Trek: TNG started, holodecks were only just starting to become widely used.  By the time Voyager ended, holographic technology has been around for 15 years. The Federation may look forward to the biggest burst of creative output in history, thanks in part to the popularity of The Doctor’s holonovel “Photons Be Free” (in the Voyager episode "Author, Author"). A lot of sentient beings throughout the Federation may be thinking “if a hologram can create a popular holonovel, why can’t I?” Remember, youtube was created in 2006. Look at what it’s become in 10 years.

Aside: note how "Author, Author" is the only episode, that I recall, that indirectly addresses artists' (which I extrapolate to include content creators') rights to their works, and how and when it should be distributed.  


I know that all of the above is absolute, total head-canon. I merely present this as an extrapolation. But I also present this as a cautionary tale to everyone who is involved in punishing content creators. Also as a plea to content creators to never give up the fight for fair use, and as a message to everyone else who is even mildly interested in this issue to learn more about the Fair Use doctrine, and persuade lawmakers to strengthen and uphold the doctrine.

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