In response to
I remember this kind of idea coming from the utopian folks on the
mailing lists a few years back - the kind of "it'll all be alright
if we just co-operate" scenario. Unfortunately, and I'm cynical
having spent time embedded in the commercial side, I think it's
well off the mark. But...
Is a subscription-model an industry solution? I don't think so.
Is it an excellent business-model for companies? Certainly.
We need to create structure around all that exists, stop suing
people and just focus on being constructive. These things are not
going away, but neither will CD sales for a long time.
We need to build more bridges between the online and offline worlds.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if we just give the "music"
away and charge for a product associated with it (which, after all
is what we do with CD licensing already). The associated product
might be a CD or a memory stick, but it will have a picture on it,
and some perceivable creative and unique value beyond a "device"
that carries a signal. Your CD covers are more valuable to you than
you might have thought....
What I think the current EFF is missing:
1) Intellectual Property-based commerce relies on geographic boundaries
Getting a commercial collection agencies to work with "the whole
web" on behalf of "the whole industry" seems really naive. Why,
or how, would a Chinese record label use or trust a US collection
agency to get a chunk of its $5. It's akin to creating a global
tax for music, a tax that is paid to lots of profit-driven labels.
I don't know of good examples where some company in such a situation
wouldn't try and do everything humanly possible to "win"
over the rest. Never mind trying to create some kind of international
tax-tracking to pay the import and export duties...
In the same light, *any* analogy to radio or broadcasting does
not apply because broadcasting is limited by the technology to physical
demographics. It is not a good model for any internet commerce.
Broadcast licensing is already a complete mess -profit and business
growth is *engineered* around selling rights in different territories.
This is an economic cat that does not want to be put back in its
bag, so there will be massive opposition to it. The rights organisations
hardly ever agree and thank god they don't otherwise Europe would
have followed America's "lead" a long time ago - PPL in the UK is
*still* trying to sue Virgin Radio for webcasting its on-air output....
that's 8 years.
2) Distribution is an industry
"No CDs to ship". This is a perfect example - there is a huge industry
out there which is based on CD distribution, not just licensing.
They also sell DVDs and merchandise. They heavily promote artists.
They are not going anywhere soon. HMV/etc. have "essential"
commercial relationships as part of the economic ecosystem on which
the music industry is based.
3) Computers are good at counting
"divvy up based on popularity" - measuring the charts is hard
enough. It might be technically possible to have some trusted measurement
network, but, well, do you believe the top10? In the UK they will
start to count Digital Downloads in the UK charts later this year
- but they are still part of an ecosystem. Never mind the tax issues
Although it's arguable that every time a track is played it could
be measured, but over what timescale? Every form of playback device
would need to be internet-enabled. So what do we do for the next
4) If we built it they will pay
"The vast majority of file sharers are willing to pay a reasonable
fee for the freedom to download whatever they like" is completely
unknown. I hear it all the time and we all want to believe it. If
this is the way we wanted to consume music, we'd have all signed
up to Time-Life.
There is a real point here - we like to own things. We've like
to own the physical product that accompanies our music as well as
the convenience of portable playback. I favour models that combine
the physical product we can own and the digital product that gives
us the connivance.
I know someone who has 200GB of MP3's and has stopped buying CDs
altogether. If they *really* think someone deserves it, they just
**buy the CD**. It's neat, simple and fits the existing commercial
models. Personally I'd rather be evangelising the message: "If your
MP3 player registers you've played a track more than 5 times, show
some respect and buy the album from the shops"
5) The Movie and Software guys are getting their faster
("The movie industry, in contrast, is having its most profitable
years in history"). Movies and software are a great examples,
but not in the right context. Movies have turned on the head of
a pin and created the "slightly too much data to make it worthwhile
ripping" DVD format, and you get a nice box.
ADSL just isn't quite fast enough to treat movies like music -
this is just a quirk of physics. We needed 256Kbps to get to good
music sharing speed. We'd need 2Mbps for movies and that's some
way off for home use. The movie industry needs to look out for when
we have 100BaseT to the home. Oh, and software is still based on
a "proprietary hardware solution".
Feedback to gavin [at] dgen.net
V1.2 1st March, adding related links
V1.1 29th Feb, after feedback from Danny
V1.0 Gavin Starks, 28th Feb 2004