The masses have always been at the mercy of the gatekeepers of media, and were only exposed to what those chosen few allowed the masses to see. But with the convergence of all mediums, the gatekeepers of media have lost their reign of dictatorship on what we hear and see. And as time and innovation progresses, we will see that the new gatekeepers of media will be us; the people. The internet has made it possible for us to consolidate all the mediums of old into one. It has enabled us to gather our information and entertainment in an individual and independent fashion. Thus, the future power of producing content for the masses lies with us also. To keep this power of content in our control, we must not let those who monopolize the mechanism of data transfer (Cable modem, DSL, etc) or the older mediums gain the ability to regulate our independent power to gather and/or produce content in any way. Those who will want to regulate the gathering and production of content will be those who used to substantially profit from gate-keeping the content. We have begun to see this with the mp3 pirating debate in the medium of music and radio. The music industry has gone as far as to shut down independent internet radio stations and subpoena people to court because they downloaded a single song from another individual's computer in the privacy of their own home. This subject is very dangerous to our internet freedom.
The argument for copyright infringement is baseless as it pertains to peer-to-peer networking. A computer is a product and becomes property when purchased. When two computers willingly connect through a network connection in any process, the data and information exchanged between the two parties should be confined to the privacy of those two computers. Unless there's proof showing that one of the two computers are generating substantial profits based on copyrighted intellectual properties not belonging to them, the music or which ever industry has no authoritative right to invade our digital privacy.
The film industry is no saint of free data exchange either; they have pursued criminal charges on those innovators that have helped reduce the mega-byte size of films without the reduction of quality. And they have constantly changed industry codec standards so that they can completely prohibit the duplication of film. But same baseless copyright infringement arguments for the music industry, applies also to the film industry. Just because these industries have lost their strangle hold on the content monopoly, doesn't give them the right to become the authority of technological advancement. Anyone else who utilizes the digital tactics used by the music and film industry to monitor supposed illegal activity would be convicted for computer crimes.
The TV networks will be the ones biggest hit by the evolution of content gathering and production. In the supposed golden-age of television, there were only three choices to gather one's content. And the only way one was able to hear and see these three choices (ABC, CBS, & NBC) was via a local network affiliate that relayed a satellite broadcast from the original network's source into antenna based television receivers within a geographical area. Aside from relaying network broadcasts, these network affiliates also supplied local based information and entertainment. Hence, the local news and other programming. This structure was extremely costly and was probably the main reason why the three-choice channel system was the only game in town for a long time. But with the innovation of cable, it allowed other concept networks to produce content without the costly infrastructure network affiliation. Cable companies hard-wired the infrastructure in local communities eliminating the need for user-end satellite reception, but this came at a monthly monetary expense. Moreover, users were at the whim of the gatekeepers of content at cable companies. So content choices where somewhat extensive but still limited.
With the internet, content becomes unlimited to gather and even more possible to individually create. This doesn't mean that the gatekeepers of old will become extinct, they'll just have to adapt to the times. For example, for the past 10 or 15 years we saw old mediums such as AT&T and Time Warner gobble up every phone, cable, and internet provider company that they can sink their capitalist teeth into. Both companies now are offer several mediums of old consolidated into a single bill, because they understand the convergence is coming and both had the foresight to adapt. If these two entities decided to fully merge in the future, they could literally monopolize the broadband internet access market. This in essence means they could become the single-handed gatekeeper of what we hear and see. This is another important issue that puts internet freedom in jeopardy.
The future of television will consist not of a high priced cable bill, but that of an expensive broadband access bill. Instead of being limited to a predetermined list of numbered channels for one's content, there will be millions of websites to gather content. And if one can't find the content that appeases them, then they can create their own. We're beginning to see companies like BlogTalkRadio.com and You Tube.com become innovators in aiding individuals to creating there own content.
Advertising and paid subscription services will still be the key to monetary success to any content producer of the future. This is why companies like BlogTalkRadio.com and You Tube provide an avenue for content production and broadcast so they can attract more content producers. They understand that if their company has the more attractive content, then they can increase their advertising prices because of their prominence in a worldwide audience. Just imagine, presently a local television commercial that includes the cost of production and a couple of weeks of primetime rotation in a mid-size United States city (San Antonio, Phoenix, etc) could cost an advertiser $15,000 minimum. An advertiser can only expect to expose this local advertisement to about a hundred thousand content gatherers, and that's if the advertiser's lucky. Compare that to the ad price of a content provider that attracts an average 10,000,000 content gatherers a month worldwide. How much could an advertiser expect to pay then?
In the near future, content producers of all kinds are going to be sought after from every crack of the globe. Content producer stars will probably become the hardest working individuals on the planet because they've got billions of potential content producers that will continue to get more and more creative to contend with. No longer will we have to palate Radio, TV and Film stars, directors, or producers just because they are force fed to us by gatekeepers. Content gatherers will genuinely appreciate the content producers they read, watch or listen to because they have the legitimate choice to go else where for their content. It will be a never ending world of information and entertainment that would occupy the span of a thousand lifetimes.
But this future potential evolution in human creativity can become sidetracked by those who wish to monitor or police content gathering and/or production. This is why the people of the world can let no company, governing entity or bureaucratic consortium regulate the way we obtain and/or produce content via the Internet. To attach any form of regulation will only infuriate a potential digital revolution of information that could create virtual black markets, cyber extortion and private or corporate espionage; all of which would stagnate and retard the evolution of technology and creativity.