“In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Public policies treat culture as a potentially lucrative sector of the economy, which should be verified by the market. Both the production and distribution of culture have undergone significant centralization, there has been convergence of competence and control in the circulation of culture. Just a few major players are in possession of both services and resources used by the majority.

1. Society - structure and shared values

In this scenario the social stratification is increasing. The state believes that the development and prosperity is directly proportional to GDP growth, and the free market regulates the distribution of goods in the best way. It is also believed that according to “trickle-down theory” economy will make the richest profit to the benefit of those lower on the social ladder, because the rich will create new work places. Also those areas belonging to the state, such as education, culture and health, should obey the logic of the free market, introducing the criterion of profit. Culture must pay for itself, just as the state railways.

The most valued in society are a career and achieving an adequate census of property. Therefore, people tend to focus more on that than on the work for the good of the community. It is difficult to make it otherwise, since “community” is a term with no meaning: it means no one’s property. Also, the dominant commercial culture, aimed at entertainment, hardly builds a sense of community or teaches critical look at reality. It is also difficult for users to participate in culture in a creative way and pursue their own passions.

In this world it is advisable to be a media celebrity, banker or representative of some free profession of the top shelf. Or at least such ideal of success is created by “dream factories”. For the rest the ideal scenario of stability in life is to be an employee of a corporation, or salaryman, and maintain this position as long as possible. From an early childhood you hear that you should be able to sell yourself well. Students are advised to draw attention of corporations or take part in auditions for talent shows organized by big media companies.

Spirituality is also associated with the work ethic: the religious model of the good life is one in which the man realizes himself through work. Still, all possible family scenarios are acceptable, if corporations (“dream factories”) may profit from them. Samesex couples are thus welcome as they are usually well off (better education, less children).

2. Economics of culture and the creative sector

The market of information and culture, similarly to other sectors, is dominated by monopolies or strong oligopolies, where the winner takes it all at all levels. This is a sealed system, which is dominated by vertical integration - one company sells a client devices, content, and services of various types. To the customer diversification does not pay, as it hits him painfully in the pocket.

In this world, everything revolves around product placement and advertising. Here is the most money. Celebrities take it all, they earn a fortune, because they provide the best monetization (the most ads you can sell around them). In the information noise they are able to sell everything - from T-shirts with their own likeness, through cookbook or a reality show of their own life, in which so very little is happening.

The rest takes part in the “copyright lottery”, trying their hand in the creative sector in the hope of becoming a celebrity, but their chances are statistically insignificant. Some will give up while others will create infotariat, a poorly paid class of subcontractors, or hired craftsmen, who, for example, write jokes for the celebrity appearing on the TV show.

Content created by non-professionals and distributed in the Web is appropriated by media companies. In the case of remixes - by purchase or copyright claim. An author of a popular blog eventually will be working for a big company, leaving his readers a convenient illusion that she is as fresh and independent as ever.

It is hard to gain independence and niche also because in this oligopolized world there is no choice - the market is dominated by a few major information hubs (today called information portals and social networks). This sealed system hardly provides space for cultural freedom. Everything can be monetized in one or the other way - as an opportunity for advertising, or an opportunity to advertise (for a tasty morsel are also data on user preferences).

3. Situation of artists of critical or “high” art

In this world, where the tastes, and what you need to think and what to like, is decided on by employees of corporation supplying entertainment, professions such as journalism or artistic criticism disappear. Because any critical outlook is disturbing in a world where content needs to sell. What sells well is pseudo-criticism, aimed not at undermining clichés, stereotypes and truths, but at calling an artificial conflict, which will raise the rankings of the audience or click-through rates.

Freedom of artistic speech is theoretically possible, but in practice a niche, because it does not sell. Big corporations do not need critical artists - unless it is an online mocker, whose videoblog will be watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators. You can, of course, rebel, but what for when no one would notice, because you can only see those who have support of concerns.

An ambitious artist, whether critical or simply demanding savvy audience, can hit for a private sponsor/foundation that see the value in this type of art. But in the absence of a broad education focused on the art more difficult in perception, there is no audience.

4. Education

Social stratification and targeting on profit in the most prominent way is reflected in the education system and health care. The elite is taught in expensive private schools, and the rest in declining, under-resourced public schools. Also higher education is segregated - there are elite universities, which ensure the completion of a career path in management boards, supervisory boards and private practices; specialized learning centers or even co-funded by corporations that produce experts and conduct research; finally dying, “worse”, underfunded public universities.

Educational resources are privatized and narrowly available. Open educational resources are rudimentary, prepared by NGOs with small budgets, subsidized neither by the state nor by the business. Open cultural resources are mainly the work that has already passed into the public domain and are has been digitized by NGOs.

5. The impact of technology on the consumption of culture

The development of technology is subject to the dictates of the interests of the monopolies. At each level of technological development content is determined by the tool - like smartphones and tablets today organize way to deliver content through closed applications. About what is available via closed applications depends on their owners. Thus the development of both technology and culture is not independent and organic, but planned by an agent, who absorbs innovation. Sometimes it happens that the same innovator creates its own content and services conglomerate, but it is rarely so, due to the lack of access to markets, resources, and personnel.

Technology can track user behavior, including whether they use unauthorized sources of culture. After analyzing this information, the users are profiled and then offered the products they are likely to purchase.

Copyright law

Position of the authors is weak:

In practice, only the most recognizable and most-selling authors may negotiate with corporate lawyers beneficial contracts for the grant of a license to use the work. The monetization of the authorial work is usually one-off, and it occurs at the time of selling copyrights. For this reason the role of collective management organizations is marginal. Furthermore, the author has no impact on how corporations will prescribe the fair use of her works. And it may happen that they will organize a drawing moustaches competition using portraits of her authorship.

Position of the users is weak:

The content distributors monopoly means that no one can escape their walled gardens and, in practice, everybody is forced to bear the costs they dictate. With advanced tracking systems any unauthorized use - not only by the illegal distributor, but also the common user - becomes virtually impossible. P2P networks, incompatible with the market-oriented ideology, because they do not increase GDP, are eliminated by the state. Free licenses are unpopular, and the scope of fair use is very narrow. Schools and libraries must pay subscription fees to corporations that are holding rights to content.jest bardzo wąski. Szkoły i biblioteki muszą płacić abonament koncernom będącym właścicielami treści.

Position of the intermediaries is strong:

The copyright law serves the oligopolies controlling the content distribution. Such solutions are enhanced by international treaties, negotiated in favour of Big Content and converged intermediaries. Media companies use the increased control over the legality of content covered by copyright law in order to - through pressures and financial incentive - take over the copyrights to the largest possible amount of works; not only to those viral created by amateurs, but to works derived from other works, such as remixes and pastiches, demanding either their removal from circulation or money.