Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Can Piracy and Digital Rights Challenges be Overcome?

Today I'll be at the IPTV World Forum speaking on a panel about "How Can Piracy and Digital Rights Challenges be Overcome?".

My answer is the the 'three Cs'.

First of all, Commercial. We now live in a world of digital not physical pricing, and as eBooks has show, lower prices and greater volume can generate a higher yield than higher prices and lower volumes. It's quite funny looking at some of my old CDs from the nineties and realising that I was often paying £17 back then for them - today the equivalent price for digital download would be under half in real terms, and prices need to keep on falling.

Of course there are other commercial models that are evolving such as flat fee subscriptions. This has been particularly successful for some of the TV service providers such as Sky.

The second C is Convenience. Why is it, with all of the technology we have, so difficult to get access to the content we want. This of rugby or soccer matches. These are often shown live, are available on demand or as highlights for a while, and are then locked away in an archive.

Worse still is the fact that many rights are just locked away without being exploited at all. At Rights Tracker we're on a mission to liberate content and make it available anywhere, any time on the right commercial terms.

The final C is Compliance. Once content is cheaply and freely available then there has to be an onus on giving virtual property the same moral protection as physical property. This is already occurring, albeit with a somewhat heavy hand sometimes, and proposed legislation like SOPA is probably a sledgehammer to crack a nut. However, it is raising consciousness about piracy.

Also important is policing the piracy and actively knowing where is occurs: a field where our colleagues at Klipcorp excel. In the case of digital rights management, we need to move away from restricting to measuring.

At TV Everywhere we're working on a project to track content wherever it is used - and by content I mean the metadata and rights as much as the physical video file.

As bandwidth improves the policing will become easier. Consider digital cinema, where there are no longer projectionists to pirate the reels, but rather files are downloaded, shown and then deleted from the device. We are moving into a world where only one copy of a video may be needed, which will naturally make it easier to protect.