Online Marmite – you either love it, or hate it (if you’re a media exec)

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The online world can’t do right for doing wrong – on the one hand it’s being praised for feeding the growing appetite for entertainment, media and social interaction; on the other, it’s being panned for helping to facilitate ‘mindless criminality’ through the likes of Blackberry Messenger and Twitter.

Following last week’s cries for ‘social network blackouts’, the internet now stands accused of all but ‘destroying the market for films, music and newspapers’. Robert Levine, the author of Free Ride, has warned that ‘digital piracy and greedy technology firms are crushing the life out of the culture business’.

His criticism is not aimed at ‘fast transmission’ of digital data, but more the regulation of it – or lack of it. I’m somewhat torn by his argument. Several years ago, as a fresh-faced journalist, I sat and watched the anguish on the face of my publisher as he attempted to defend the local paper against the advancing online world. Years later and that advancement has not abated (although the paper still lives on). I have great sympathy for those executives who are fighting against modern technology – whether in the newspaper, music or film worlds. But, as a consumer of online media, I want to flip open my laptop, or flick on my ‘phone, and delve into the worldwide web without the hassle of having to go to the nearest newsagents, book store or video shop.

Levine is right, however; the law does need to be enforced online, although in my opinion, in a dosage that still allows the online world to do what it does best – enabling us to see, hear and read everything and anything at the click of a button. The question now is: who will stand up to the technology magnates and dare to be the enforcer?