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Dear Mr. Giles Clarke,
Well done. With your statement that Internet piracy is the "biggest danger to cricket" you have pulled off a rather wonderful trifecta: you join the ranks of those politicians and industrialists that persist in misunderstanding and fear-mongering about the Internet; you divert attention from far bigger dangers to cricket, including its relentless commercialisation, in which you have paid a notable part; and lastly, you show that when it comes to myopia, and sheer bloody-minded head-in-the-sandedness, there is nothing quite on Planet Earth, it seems, like a cricket administrator.
The curse of 'intellectual property' discourse already threatens to strangle creativity and innovation in an era, when, thanks to the technical affordances made possible by the 'Net, a chance is at hand to reconfigure the political economy of the world of art and cultural production. Those that are economically entrenched in this sphere, like the music, motion picture and software industries, will of course, fight these changes tooth and nail. But do we have to fall for their propagandistic nonsense? Only if our paypacket depends on subscribing to outmoded, monopoly-preserving doctrines.
A smarter option would be to figure out how cricket could prosper and flourish by utilising, to its advantage, the possibilities made visible by the brave new world of the 'Net and its associated methods of digital production and distribution. Let fans put up cricket videos of catches and favourite players on YouTube; don't send them cease-and-desist letters from overpaid corporate lawyers; ask for television-rights holders to make available highlights packages on streaming video; work to make sure television rights deals don't include onerous territory restrictions (I cannot watch the Pakistan-England Tests because the telecast, controlled by a monopolistic provider in the US, is only available in Canada.)
You want more fans? Spread the game to them, keep it visible. If the music industry, which has done its best to provide a passable imitation of a lumbering dinosaur, can make a start with on-demand-in-the-cloud-streaming services, then why can't cricket change its ways?
In this endeavor, Mr. Clarke, when you consider strategies for cricket's future, you might want to lend your ear to fans, not just large corporations. Those fans, remember, are the ones that will watch your telecasts. Get the game to them, in high-quality DRM-free streaming video if possible, and let them share it among themselves so that the game can remain their 'property'. You won't lose too much money; you'll create new fans; and you'll hold on to your older ones.
If you want to fight a fight, fight to ensure that the gigantic archives of cricket video footage, currently sitting and gathering dust in some vault somewhere, are released and licensed at not-onerous fees so that more fans can see them. Fight on the behalf of documentary-makers so that cricket's history can be highlighted. Give up this silly parroting of media corporation press releases.
Come out of the Cave, Mr. Clarke. The bright light won't hurt, and once you've figured how much better things are out here, you might want to go back down and fetch your fellow prisoners.
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets hereFeeds: Samir Chopra
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Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch