Age of the Internet as a Democratic Equalizer is Dimming.

When I started my law practice, the options for marketing were limited to expensive Yellow Page and newspaper ads, and networking.  Some of you may not even know what those terms mean.  They have become relics.  The same was true of all professions and trades, as well as hobbies and artistry.  If you simply wanted to express your creativity or opinions, or share your knowledge and discoveries, your options were limited to a few established publications.  Moreover, somebody else got to decide whether your writing, videoing, or topics were worthy.  In an age of dramatically increasing inequality, the internet has powerfully swum upstream as a democratic equalizer.  It has created opportunities for the smallest and most underfunded entrepreneurs. It has given a voice to people who would otherwise be stifled.  At the same time, it has felled giants and made enemies of the powerful and entrenched.

Unfortunately, the entrenched forces appear to have figured out how to put the genie back in the bottle.  Whether it’s legislation driven by the powerful people and enterprises threatened by internet democracy, or it’s litigation trolls seeking to extort money, the age of internet innocence appears to be coming to an end.  Perversely, these forces are frequently marshaled in the name of protecting the vulnerable and the weak.  Closer examination reveals that such claims are often disingenuous.  The EU Copyright Directive and the FCC attack on net neutrality protect the interests of major media outlets.  Litigation trolls profit from legal ambiguities and the threat of litigation expense.  The small creatives whose interests they claim to be protecting are just a public relations tool.

The First Amendment suffers.  Democracy suffers. Equality suffers.  Established and wealthy individuals and their powerful enterprises again become the gatekeepers of advancement and expression.  They protect and grow their wealth from the toil and talent of others.   The world is restored to the pattern of thousands of years – dominance and exploitation.

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