Entertainment's future: Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley

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This is one in a series of year-end stories that look back at the most memorable pieces KPCC reporters worked on in 2012 and look ahead at a key issue that will be the focus of coverage in the coming year.

Two of California's most important industries are having a little problem: they can't get along. And they may never get along.

Hollywood is the world's entertainment capital. Silicon Valley is the world's technology capital. Hollywood represents Southern California and "laid back" Los Angeles. Silicon Valley, meanwhile, represents the nerdy, youthful energy of hundreds of San Francisco Bay Area startups. Riches abound in both realms.

Hollywood has been making people rich for a century. It’s old money – mansions and Malibu. 

Silicon Valley’s riches are much, much newer. People there care more about the size of your brain than the size of your house.

Despite that, Hollywood and Silicon Valley realize that they need each other. But their business models are fundamentally incompatible.

Hollywood wants to keep content under copyrighted lock-and-key and avoid the fate of the music industry and the news business: Thorough technological "disruption" by the likes of Apple, Google, and Facebook. Silicon Valley wants content to be freely available, plugged into the manifold platforms it launches at a frantic pace.

The biggest battle so far occurred in 2012, over anti-piracy legislation. Congress nearly passed the Stop Online Piracy Act, "SOPA," under lobbying pressure from the Motion Picture Association of America and other Big Content advocates. Only an 11th hour push by Silicon Valley and Big Tech, including a 24-hour Wikipedia blackout, turned the tide and killed the legislation.

There will likely be many more such battles in 2013.

Increasingly, the site of these battles won’t be California, but Washington — as Hollywood and Silicon Valley look to the nation's capital for the power brokers who can determine their fitfully shared destiny.

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