Interview | Mike Masnick: Techdirt, Supporting Creators, the SOPA/PIPA Battle, and NFTs

Mike Masnick explores the intersection of technology, innovation, policy, law, civil liberties, and economics, being the founder & editor of the popular Techdirt blog, as well as the founder of the Silicon Valley think tank, the Copia Institute.

He notably talks about Techdirt’s creation, how copyright puts up barriers to information flows and hinders economic growth, the concepts of abundance and scarcity in a digital world, and how copyright’s original intent got lost to the detriment of the public domain. Mike looks at how opportunities for new business models arose that helped create a ‘flywheel of support’ for creators, whilst observing that copyright made creators vulnerable to exploitation by big content. He looks back at the impact the SOPA/PIPA fight made, and the powerful Internet blackout linked to the protests against these Bills. Mike explains his thinking behind the ‘Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech’ essay he wrote for the Knight First Amendment Institute. He also briefly talks about the EU’s new digital rulebook. Finally, he reflects on the idea that the NFT space, once the hype, nonsense and craziness have moved away, could help stimulate the thinking about how to actually support artists in creative and clever ways that make sense for everybody and that align the incentives much better.

Do you prefer watching our passionate interviewees talking about the 21st-century walls blocking access to culture? Then check out the vlog below.

Video highlights with timestamps:

00:00 Intro

01:47 Techdirt’s creation: copyright putting up barriers to information flows

05:07 From Thomas Jefferson’s thinking to copyright hindering economic growth

11:10 Copyright’s original intent got lost to the detriment of the public domain

15:47 Abundance and scarcity in a digital world

19:55 Creating a ‘flywheel of support’ for creators: opportunities for new business models

24:14 Copyright made creators vulnerable to exploitation by big content

26:54 The SOPA/PIPA battle put the breaks on the ‘clockwork-like expansion’ of copyright law

32:33 How activism drove the Internet blackout in protest of SOPA/PIPA

37:02 The SOPA fight put the breaks on term extensions

40:55 The thinking behind the ‘Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech’ essay

49:27 The EU’s new digital rulebook: portability vs interoperability

52:30 Reflecting on the NFT space’s potential value for creators