Monday, October 25, 2010

The RIAA today

We had an hour-long discussion today with one of the Vice-Presidents at the RIAA.

(If you are wondering why we are talking to the RIAA, or why we talk to anybody, please see this early blog post. In short, we talk to everybody who has a stake in music, videos or books. The RIAA certainly has a stake. There are no winners or losers when the Digital Content Exchange is implemented. This is because it is just a better way of doing things, period.)

The discussion was initially quite rocky. There is a "mind set" about what works and what "can't work", which was fully on display. (Of course, the definition of what "can't work" in the music business is everything-they've-tried-for-the-last-fifteen-years.)

To their credit, however, the RIAA veep worked through that mind-set, we ended up having a good exchange of views and they have requested a further round of discussions.

One of the reasons that it is so hard for folks in the music business to "get it" (myself included*) is that the DCE involves Outside Know-how. Understanding the DCE invention requires the setting aside, momentarily, of everything you know or think you know about the music businesses. The DCE employs novel and non-obvious aspects from other industries/fields that are not thought to be directly related to music. These industries/fields include financial securities, commodities trading, escrow, banking, depositary institutions, currency (medium of exchange) and the use of Registries in either law or voluntary arrangements. These industries/fields have all faced a problem similar to the one presently faced by the music industry. In our analysis, the problem can be summed up quite handily as a counterfeiting problem. (More precise than the word “pirating”). Among the solutions we borrow from these other situations are: verification, immobilization, registration, digitization and ‘recognition of fungibility’.

Then, we talk with the IFPI tomorrow.

* I am what is known as an entertainment lawyer, though most of my current work involves what I call meta-entertainment. Once the DCE restores the music business to profitability, I can go back to being an entertainment lawyer full-time (because I love it).

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