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setting the intangible free, why not licence piracy

April 30, 2010

I am constantly amazed at the efforts that the RIAA and MPAA and other affiliated organizations and companies who either represent artists whom are copyright holders or who are owners of copyright in their own right and their efforts to constrain consumption of the goods that they hold copyright on.

They do this in the belief that unauthorized consumption is piracy and that it is also represents a lost sale, neither of these beliefs hold true.

I am a 44-year-old consumer who grew up in the old days before the advent of internet and the almost instant availability of nearly all the media that Western Society had consumed in the last 30 years, as I alluded to I am amazed at what I read in the media today regarding the actions of these two organizations to stem so this called piracy, but I have an idea, well a suggestion to end the farce but first a look back at the trip that lead to this me to a revelation.

Before the internet we had our, records and tapes, the radio, and a little while latter video and video recording was just amazing, but we purchased all our media because we had to.

Now that might sound like we would not of purchased media at all if we were had not been some what compelled to, but that’s  true, it’s just it was a closed shop, the medium the records and the video cassettes were not able to be produced by any one else but big resourceful companies. There were barriers to entry and there was a supply monopoly, so if we wanted to own any music or video we either made an inferior analogue copy of the record/tape (assuming we had access to the original) or we purchased it. I did an awful lot of purchasing.

Mind you an interesting story about the VCR is that in the early 1980’s the same MPAA fought to suppress the device from the consumer market, claiming “savagery and the ravages of this machine” and citing concerns about copyright violations and yet this device turned out to be a major additional revenue source for the members of the MPAA that it set out to protect the interests of.

So as we entered the digital age the music industries were the first to adopt with the introduction on the CD, an amazing disk that revolutionised the music industry .The CD when first introduced just like its predecessor the vinyl record was a non reproducible medium for consumers and thus had no Digital Rights Management.

The problem with that for the music industry is that CD was about to become the most ubiquitous storage device for the computer industry and that music CD’s could not only be copied but they were an exact copy. But worse because the CD was a standard not controlled by the music industry and they were powerless to add Digital Rights Management to them.

The Motion Picture industry did not make this so-called mistake when they transitioned from the Video Cassette to the DVD, although their encryption system was quickly broken.

So as the digital age advanced the ability of computers and the advent of the internet changed everything, no longer were consumers barred from entry when it came to copying, sharing and distributing media, the medium was irrelevant.

I still purchase a lot of media today I have an internet account and I have a Pay TV subscription I just don’t purchase in a physical medium anymore.

I still have all my records, I don’t have the VCR tapes anymore the player died and DVD was just better not that I use that any more either. I still like the physical media it’s just technology has changed and now I have a media player and it plays digital content and so digital content is what I want.

So here we are today and the MPAA and RIAA want to shut down the best distribution medium ever, I think that they should use it along with their commercial endeavours.  The medium that I refer to is piracy

If other people are distributing your products for free, that is free of any costs and of course revenue why not licence people to use it.

Now I know that there are issues with copyright, but why not sell consumers a license that allowed them to source their personal use media from anywhere on the net.

Now this may sound ludicrous but if you are unable to sell to this segment of the market the media in your prescribed form then why not licence them to use the media that they source independently.

This strategy does not inhibit the MPAA or RIAA from enforcing their rights against those whom have no licence to distribute copyright material. It allows them an opportunity to profit on the actions of others and offers a totally free distribution channel that is hard to control, monetize privacy if you will.

This strategy removes the need for 3 strike enforcement, it removes need to impose liability on third parties such as ISP’s and it offers a way to engage with a section of your market that is not buying.

This approach would allow ACTA to refocus on the core objectives of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which should be commercial counterfeiting and not copyright enforcement.

So like the VCR of the eighties maybe the internet can be a valuable source of new revenue to the media industries it just may not come the way MPAA or RIAA envisioned it should be, the way it used to be before the intangible was set free from the medium.

Obviously there are more issues and these would need to be ironed out but I think this is at least worth exploring rather than criminalizing the users of your products, what do you think leave a comment.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    May 5, 2010 12:45 am

    Love the idea… however… how big a license fee, to cover who, how much material and how often? This only holds true for large corporate distributors of product under contract to them, in cases, up to fiver years or more, or in oldspeak music biz. up to five albums, or at least oldspeak filmbiz three films depending on who and how big based on hard top distribution and DVD sale/hire release. Unit volumes are possibly big enough for them. Units of product equal income turnover. The idea is great but the math needs a bit of rethinking, especially when you take into account the growing number of indie music and film releases by small and large acts or companies that in include free downloads. Even the biggies wouldn’t survive on the license scheme…show me the money…

  2. May 23, 2010 7:33 pm

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  3. May 25, 2010 9:25 am

    Thank you Christian,

    It can be a hard thing putting a blog out there, but your kind words make all the difference.




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