Inherent Instability at the Internet – Entertainment Industry – Digital Property Rights Management Law, Nexus


And if you think that anyone who posts a title like that has got to be pretentious, then you may well be correct.

Here’s a bit of a quotation from a guy called Cory Doctorow, an industry pundit and commentator.  It is a little scary, but also outrageous the way he describes some of the more ‘Wild West’ aspects of things we think are permanent.

"I think that Hollywood loves sequels, so they want to make a sequel to the Napster wars.  And I think they are hoping that they will turn out slightly differently and I think they’re wrong.  Napster eventually had a business model which was: ‘Figure out a way to raise money for Napster, probably subscriptions –  more than half their customers were prepared to pay $US15 a month to access it – raise enormous piles of money and give giant whacks of this to the entertainment industry.’  But the entertainment industry said, ‘No, we want to do this on our own, and we’re going to do it on our own terms, we’re going to do it with DRM (Digital Rights Management) and we’re going to restrict how people use works and so on, and we’ll sue you until there’s nothing but a crater.’  Then they totally failed to produce an offering that anybody wanted anything to do with.

Then with the void that was left by Napster you got services like Kazaa.  Their business model was: ‘Incorporate in Vanuatu – make themselves hard to find and hard to sue – do deals with spyware vendors to infect people’s computers in exchange for money and if you happen to destroy the record industry in the process… well, who cares?’

This was bad news for the record industry and the motion picture industry seems bent on doing the same thing.  So now in that industry you have things like YouTube and The Pirate Bay.  YouTube has a business model which is: ‘Get bought by Google.’  And Google has a business model of: ‘Figure out how to pay the entertainment industry for video.’  But instead of the entertainment industry lining up to get paid, they are lining up to sue YouTube, and wanting to create their own competing services.  They may in fact convince Google (who do have to answer to shareholders and regulators) to back away from the whole entertainment scene. 

At  which point The Pirate Bay will happily step in and supplant them.  And The Pirate Bay is run by Swedish anarchists who believe in the abolition of copyright, and whose business model, loosely stated, is: ‘To destroy Hollywood before Hollywood destroys Swedish culture.’

The record industry is somewhat melting down due to a combination of the shareholders punishing them – because it’s not profitable and it’s not such a good idea to keep suing your customers, and the music industry has sued 20,000 American music fans so far, and 700 more every month.  And we’re also seeing that the older executives have been forced out or left or retired… They’ve seen the unholy mess that they’ve made, and they don’t want to be left holding the bag when the whole thing comes crashing down around their ears.  This is not yet true of Hollywood.

A person at NBC recently told me that, ‘They need a good strategic law suit to scare off YouTube or anyone else who wants to do a YouTube-like thing.’  That will leave a void for hackers and crooks, who are going to be a lot less friendly to their interests than invested commercial enterprise ever would be."

Seems the Internet is still more in Wild West mode than any of us realised. 

Inviting comments from people more knowledgeable than me on this subject.  Is Cory Doctorow correct in his views?

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