Friday, July 1, 2011
The dream of the buzz app with the adorable name saving copyright for all mankind (Subtitle: A long-term solution for a short-term thinking world)
"If your method is so great, why haven't I heard about you?".
Answer: I am not sure. Since the web is a new phenomenon, there is really nothing in history to compare it to. What is the "way it's supposed to be done" when it comes to a problem this huge? Tens of billions of counterfeit songs competing with paid. Retailers like HMV at death's door. This is unprecedented.
Do you really think some "buzz app", with an adorable name, is going to come along and everybody's going to love it so much that they stop using their counterfeits and start paying for content all the sudden?
No. We've got to exercise our brain muscles to find a solution. Just like "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", "The Answer May Not Fit on a Bumper Sticker."
The investors in the web right now seem not to be focused on real solutions but rather on following the crowd of users. FOMA is a big factor driving investment (Fear Of Missing Out). (Query: Is there anything that Groupon does that somebody else cannot possibly do?)
The other problem is that the Digital Content Exchange is a new ecosystem for copyrights that helps everybody. The stakeholders in digital media do not seem interested in doing something that helps *everybody*, they want to do something that helps only themselves.
An exchange is defined as “a system that allows competitors to compete fairly and creates efficiency”. Guess what? If you are a giant stakeholder, and you have a competitive advantage, you don't want something that could potentially rearrange the competitive deck-chairs even if you are on the Titanic (like the record companies).
And then there is short-term thinking. As Lefsetz said this week in his column "They Should All Pay": "if you don’t think there’s short term thinking at America’s corporations read The Wall Street Journal, it’s all about quarterly profits. Long term is almost irrelevant. But it’s all that’s relevant if you’re a (musical) act."
So we are trying to sell a long-term solution to people for whom the long term is “almost irrelevant”. And the people for whom a long-term solution is all that's relevant by-and-large don't understand our solution because it's a smidgen on the technical side and .. after all ... they're artists, not tech innovators. So it is not really surprising that the Exchange is still in beta.
For the record, we've had high-level discussions with Google, the RIAA, the IFPI, the Federal IP Task Force, Apple (investment people only, not tech people). Everyone who has bothered to understand our system has admitted, tacitly or expressly, that this ecosystem will work. They just don't want to be the ones to bring it up to scale. Fortunately, a lot less effort is needed now in order to bring it up to scale than a few years ago, because many of the key components that we have been recommending for the past 8 years have recently been put in place (e.g. registration, cloud storage and immobilization).
A formidable DCE could be put together right now, simply with all the registration info, digital purchase info, and digital master files that already exist. If everybody who has possession of this info shared it with the Exchange.
I'm telling you ... Users would LOVE it too. It would be like they died and went to (cloud) heaven. It would be the most user-centric media experience ever. But if we have to build an exchange, new user by new user, immobilized track by immobilized track … it is going to take a while. What can you do, from where you sit in the industry, to help get this idea out there so it can get to scale more quickly?? Or so that the idea can be just discussed? Who in your circle needs to know about this?? Be a part of history ... Hit them up, now!