Algorithmic Control I: Intellectual Property and the Content Control Industry (#bcm112)

What is an “algorithm”? It depends whom you ask | MIT Technology Review
Image found here

Welcome to the first blog post where we are now discussing Algorithmic Control!

Algorithms are what control what content we could see. Take YouTube for example, if you watch a video on how to bake a cake, chances are there are going to be more videos in your recommended about cakes, baking and baking cakes. Sometimes the algorithm can take you to completely different videos that are not relevant to the sort of videos you watch such as ‘how to craft a cake in Minecraft’, kind of the same but in a different context and your recommendations will thus change again.

When it comes to Algorithmic Control, there are four basic parts;



Content Control

Creative Commons

Lets first discuss about Industry

When we say industry in this context, we are referring to large big companies that have a large span of control over such content. For example Disney; Marvel is currently owned by Disney, Lucas Film is also owned by Disney, they even have an 80% stake in the sports channel ESPN. Its practically guaranteed that whatever you you watch on TV are owned by one large company, same goes with news papers.


Back in the ye olden days before copyright, everything that had been created by a person could be modified, copied and sold by others. This was because all ideas were considered public commons. You might ask ‘Why bother creating anything if there’s no protection for the creator?’. Well there are many inventors and creators that are very well known today if it wasn’t for their work, which had been created a long time ago, such as Shakespeare’s plays and Newton’s Law of Gravitation; content was much more open rather than restricted today. If Nils Bohlin patented his three-point seat belt invention, the very one that appears in most cars today, chances are you’d be only seeing them in Volvos.

These days there are many sorts of copyright

Digital Rights Management (DRM): Controlling access to content; what place, location and at what time. This can be used through encryption and licensing.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): Makes it so circumventing any or a DRM a criminal offence

End User License Agreement (EULA): An extended ‘contract’ if you will; expanding copyright control. This can be seen when you create an account or install an online game – you accept the EULA and receive the permission to play said game.

Content Control

When there is scarcity, there is value. When there is copyright, there is artificial scarcity. The industry’s aim is to have complete control over the content they produce. Want to use the same thing as another company, but its licensed? Theres going to be a huge fee, because they also want to protect the ideas and possible uses of the information.

But, there is no scarcity inherent that is present in digital content and does not cost anything if you want to copy it.

Creative Commons

When it comes to Creative Commons, it is much more lax compared to DMCA and DRM, as if you use something that is labelled under ‘Creative Commons’ you can pretty much use it for anything that isn’t to do with a commercial/business context. This practically means you can distribute it for free, and you must not charge people to use the same content you got which was under Creative Commons, otherwise you might get into a bit of legal trouble.

Made myself, don’t worry you can use it for anything

2 thoughts on “Algorithmic Control I: Intellectual Property and the Content Control Industry (#bcm112)

  1. Great work on exploring this topic, Anthony! Your remediation is not only funny and relatable, but very on brand with what it explores. I love how you included the level of access you envisioned for your creation – that was a really nice touch. You went into depth with the ideas above, though I may suggest writing a little more succinctly or breaking up the text with some more images. Apart from that, spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Anthony,

    Your blog post this week was really well thought out and your definitions and explanations made it really easy to understand the concepts behind your ideas. I like the points you make here about the benefits of the public commons in the past as I had never considered this before; it made me consider how the use of such things could benefit creators today. Personally, some examples I could think of could be Triple Josh recent Unearthed competition where famous artists upload there unused lyrics for upcoming artists to experiment with. This got me to thinking how I could encourage this in my own DA by creating a public space for writers to share their “rejected” work to create inspiration for other writers. Great job with the blog post!

    Liked by 1 person

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