Producer and author Jonathan Taplin decries Big Tech's 'war on culture'
The Agenda


When campaigners first started calling for the regulation of Big Tech, the debate centred around issues like antitrust concerns and data privacy. But author and film and music producer Jonathan Taplin says there is another, often disregarded fallout from the rise of Big Tech: A war on culture.


Jonathan Taplin is a film and music producer who has worked with Martin Scorsese, Bob Dylan and The Band. He has also had several scholarly roles at universities in California specializing in digital entertainment and international communication management.

Taplin's 2017 book Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy tackles what he describes as the 'marketing monoculture' perpetuated by Big Tech.


Taplin speaks in no uncertain terms when explaining why he believes that Big Tech is killing culture.

"Companies like YouTube are a cancer on the entertainment business," he says. "Just look at the way music revenues have fallen over the past 20 years."

He recalls the story of Levon Helm, the drummer in The Band – whom Taplin worked with for many years alongside Bob Dylan. "Helm made good money whilst people were buying CDs – but when Napster arrived his royalty income came to a halt," Taplin reveals. "He got throat cancer and couldn't afford his medical expenses. These changes affect every single musician."


"You have to remove the safe harbor," says Taplin. He believes that Big Tech platforms like YouTube take no responsibility for the content they publish.

"If there was no safe harbor, then I could tell YouTube to take down my music or I'll sue," he says. "And boy, they would change in a heartbeat."

But his fear is this is unlikely to happen anytime soon and regulations that are in place don't go far enough. He says it's not about breaking them down, it's about removing their protections.

"Forcing Facebook to sell Instagram won't solve the problem – removing their liability shield will."


Former Facebook CEO for Australia and New Zealand Stephen Scheeler explains whether Australia's landmark media law will set a precedent for other countries aiming to make Big Tech pay for journalism.

Plus, as regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to agree on the best way to regulate Big Tech, two veteran tech journalists Steven Levy and Kate Russell discuss who we can trust with our data.

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