Monday, April 04, 2011

A Tale Of Two Contents

My colleague, Peter Lewinton, drew attention to how easy it is becoming to 'retransmit' pretty much any video broadcast, and we all know that it's been as easy as pie to share any video file with pretty much anyone in the connected world.

So, let's look ahead at two potential worlds.

The first is pretty straightforward, it's a lawless world where any TV signal or online transmission can be hijacked by anyone, where any concept of rights fast loses value as soon as the signal is sent from the location where it is being recorded. It's a world where broadcasters pay less and less for rights since they can't be protected and where sponsors and advertisers wake up to the fact that their brands are being used to support illegal activities and therefore scale down their involvements, or even take over the sports so that they can disseminate them with their messages embedded, a process wherein piracy becomes a good thing, it becomes distribution.

The second is a world where there is accountability, where the enablers of piracy, such as Google and many ISPs are far more responsible than they are at present. Where there is only one 'master copy' or stream of any piece of content, so that it cannot be copied, only consumed, and can be wrapped in decent rights management and DRM. And more than anything, where the rights owners try, finally to do something more than accept royalties (or are at least pushed into this since their business model is diminishing so quickly).

Climbing the fence to watch the match or festival for free is fine, but no one managed to repeat Woodstock, and the festival scene became lucrative for everyone - and probably is the current saviour of the music industry - thanks to an acceptance by all parties that there was a contract between the performer and the viewer and that fences, gates and turnstiles are what enable the stars of the future.