Ah, the last and final of our Pew Posts for this round. This week, we cover our last theme on digital rights management and sum up where we have been over our quick trip in the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Future of the Internet in 2020. We’ve discussed the rise of the device, privacy, augmented reality and now we can focus on our last theme – Digital Rights.
Digital Rights, content and Robin Hood syndrome. There will always be those who want to take from the seemingly rich (read: organizations) and give to the seemingly poor (read: individuals), or simply believe that content should be as free as speech. And to them, the study offers one of its more visually engaging quotes:
This is one of those issues people just lie about out. Partially because we put them in situations where they feel they must. I can’t say I know anyone under 30 who think the current approaches to rights management are normal. I also know a number of people over 30 who feel similarly. The best “selling” album on Amazon in 2008 was free: Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails made more money giving content away. And for those of you, like me, who follow the band, this must make the management types really feel like they have a head like a hole. ReadWriteWeb actively chronicles the stories here )
Categorically stated, there are hosts of people who feel that content controls and rights managements structures not only reduce creativity, they impede collaboration (Construct attributed to Rob Salkowitz). When we list the proponents of aggressive rights management, no one except the media conglomerates wants to shake their fists and rant. Their approach to rights management was tractical when music was more expensive to distribute. But when they have been so vehement, it’s hard to say “oops, we f*ed up. Never mind.” Especially of course when there is any kind of cash on the table.
Producing and releasing content is actually a lot easier for the media company now as well, however that has not impacted their pricing models. No wonder many people feel that media companies perceive an entitlement to which they are NOT entitled. Artists and other professionals, and even the companies supporting them do have a need to be compensated for distribution in some manner. But the vehemence only fans the flames of discontent against the entities that distribute – the companies, not the artists.
Change however, must come: Tech Analyst Gartner predicted that Christmas 2009 will be music-CD free.
Based on IBM’s Institute for Business Value Ananlysis, the music industry will have lost 35% of its revenue – with even more of that shifting to new players.
Ok – so I never downloaded “free music. ” I bought all of mine but only because I expect technology to make what I need to do easier, not necessarily free. And I love music. I have thousands of songs. All purely legal – something good and yet painful when I think of the investment.
What I find interesting, is that content sharing models actively point out the systemic flaws in the free or paid battle. Free content has a greater value the more its shared. If it is viewed by precious few people, you can say its free because it has little value. However, recently, there are three youtube videos I have been talking a lot about. They are: 1. The Message 2. Generation We 3. Insurance Company Rules . I haven’t paid a cent for them, but I have told hundreds of people about them. The value of that content is determined by how broadly it is shared. Does the same hold true for a piece of music or is the value determined by how much I paid for it? I may listen to the song one time or 762 (preferably not all in one day.) Are we truly misaligned on how value accrues to content? When I look at models like Zuda Comics where the community tells the company how valuable something is, I think there is a better demonstration of market forces…
What’s more: how far can rights management go in this “everyone’s an author” world? Are the online reviews I write about books or shoes mine? Photos I put up on Facebook? Are they really mine? My tweets? If someone forwards any one of those things, should I be entitled to recompense? How about the biggie here: I am referencing a study created by Pew and adding my own spin – does that make it mine?
I remember when Wired magazine put out a CD designed to let you rip from it. Their argument was that content should become freer and combinable in some way shape or form. That was years ago, and technology has enabled so much more than the sad constructs we still live under. Since media has become a consume-produce-share model, (paraphrasing something Clay Shirky said), we need to rethink how content is valued, dramatically reducing distribution costs.
On the flip side, even as users create and share content, there are still costs to exposing it. We have to pay – or someone does – somewhere.
And as far as that IP goes…our team in IBM recently had a set of slides for a major study ripped off by a competitor. Righteous indignation set in, as it does at big companies, and the lawyers went to work. Is a PowerPoint slide IP? Lots of people will contend it is. I know I am not allowed to share some content I create. I also know that lots of it ends up out there. I often see other consultants presenting with slides I know I made first (or am deluded enough to think I did). Am I going to rush out and claim no fair? Nope – it’s a free world. Share and Share alike.