Tuesday, October 26, 2010

R.I.P. Limewire. Long live: millions of mp3s

So Limewire has complied with a shutdown order from a judge. That appears to be the final nail in the coffin as a file sharing service. But if you think that Limewire is "over", think again. What happens to all the counterfeit files that Limewire users downloaded? They live on, stronger than ever, courtesy of software that helps you do state-of-the-art stuff with your music and doesn't bother to distinguish between stuff you lawfully purchased and bogus stuff.

State-of-the-art stuff like:
• Organize it
• Provide album art for it
• Upload it to neat mobile players and phones
• Stream it (and in some cases download it) back to you from the cloud.

Software like:
• iTunes software
• mp3tunes
• mSpot
• Simplify Media
• Soundcloud
• Audiobox
• drop.io

Since Limewire launched over ten years ago, that's got to be millions of mp3s out there. Diluting the stock tremendously. If I go to Amazon and look at the market for a recent best-selling CD and see dozens of CDs available for a penny one more time I am going to barf.

The Digital Content Exchange is a system for online verification of the valid ownership of music, books and videos without the use of DRM, scanning a person's hard-drive, invading a user's privacy or violating net neutrality. And it is completely voluntary. When will the content industries turn to it?

Update 11/19: RIAA wants revived LimeWire dead and buried. Good job, record industry. Now, what about the millions of mp3s that Limewire provided illegally? Gettin' around to that?? And what will the next Limewire be, and what will the RIAA do with all those counterfeit mp3s that will have flooded the market. In other words, when are we going to stop playing Whac-a-Mole and move to a registry system for music?

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).

Friday, October 15, 2010

The 'Out of St. Louis' Theory

People pay less attention to where you are located than they used to in business. Sometimes, they don't even know where someone is emailing or calling from, and don't care. But it wouldn't take more than a few seconds to Google the fact that the Digital Content Exchange is from St. Louis. Then, you would have to decide if it's likely that the solution to the Whole Digital Music Mess can come out of a city ranked only 18th in the US for population and equidistantly far from L.A., San Francisco and New York.  And would you pick up the phone if it was someone from St. Louis calling with that solution?

But it happened before, when St. Louis' Bridge Data Company provided the innovation needed for the financial securities industry to thrive and prosper under the new digital landscape of the 1970s. The technology developed by Bridge was sold for 40 times its original investment, purchased by Thomson Reuters, and aids in the buying and selling of stocks to this very day. The developer of Bridge's technology, James M. Yates, has been working exclusively on the media industry's digital problem since 2002 and filed US patent no. 10591416 (priority date March 4, 2004.)

I'll spare you all the theories about folks in NY and LA not being able to see the forest for the trees, about St. Louis being the crossroads like ancient Phoenicia, and that since St. Louis was started as a fur exchange that exchanges of fungible commodities are in our blood. But the music industry needs an Exchange and the know-how to create one is here, in 18th-ranked St. Louis, with Jim Yates and his tiny team of programmers. A good start would be for the entertainment and book industries to realize that they have a fungible commodity on their hands, and what that might mean.

I admit, I might not even pick up a call from Cincinnati or Des Moines. But I ought to.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Way for Artists to Monetize?: Get Paid to Stop Playing

A Seattle man has offered the band Weezer $10 million to retire. He believes the band should not be still performing, "15 years after they’ve [stopped being] musically relevant".

My only question is, how long before the "music should be free" chorus includes this in their list of the multifarious ways that you can monetize music without selling CDs or downloads?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meeting with IPFI Postponed

At the last minute, the meeting we had scheduled for yesterday with the IPFI (representing the worldwide recording industry) was postponed for two weeks by the IFPI. They have looked at our links and apparently want to talk to us. What about, we still do not know.

We want to be as open as possible about who we are meeting with and when. We do not want anybody to say, "Oh, they were having secret meetings with the record companies back in October 2010. They are in the record companies' back pocket" We will meet with anybody. This is because we are the solution for everybody. Not just record companies (though they need us pretty bad right now because their business model seems to be directly affected by the "incoherence" of digital space, which we resolve.)

We are the solution for listeners, watchers, readers and students. We are also the solution for artists, authors and filmmakers. We are the solution for music publishers, video manufacturers, retail stores, Netflix, Blockbuster, public libraries, universities trying to control the costs of education, Amazon and Kindle. All these trades will thrive and prosper under a Digital Content Exchange. In fact we are the solution for everybody, except the pirate. Him, we put out of business.