Archive for the 'piracy' Category

Lawrence Lessig Remixed

October 16, 2008

The new book of Lawrence Lessig titled Remix is released in the US today.
Lawrence just had a great article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago. And once again he outlines as simple as it is, that copyright law and the new changing culture in the digital age are still not on the same “level”. He clarifies that there must be something wrong when Universal is suing a mother of a 13 month old kid, cause of a copyright infringement on her YouTube video.

He depicts that it`s not even a problem of commensurability, like in the case above, but also a big problem for the creative culture.

We are in the middle of something of a war here — what some call “the copyright wars”; what the late Jack Valenti called his own “terrorist war,” where the “terrorists” are apparently our kids. (…) Peer-to-peer file sharing is the enemy in the “copyright wars.” Kids “stealing” stuff with a computer is the target. The war is not about new forms of creativity, not about artists making new art.
Yet every war has its collateral damage. These creators are this war’s collateral damage. The extreme of regulation that copyright law has become makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, for a wide range of creativity that any free society — if it thought about it for just a second — would allow to exist, legally.

That`s what he was trying to solve when he founded Creative Commons

Copyright law must be changed. In the article, Lawrence makes five great suggestions for changes that would make a world of difference. Read them in detail in his WSJ article.

If you want to get a short overview what he has written about in his book… watch his talk at TED:


Music Access as Product Bundle

September 24, 2008

Sony Ericsson announced today more details to their new unlimited mobile music service. PlayNow Plus will launch in Sweden by the end of the year and will be available globally next year. Reuters reports, the service will cost 99 Swedish crowns (US $15.24) a month. Subscribers can download an unlimited number of tracks to the handset or to a PC. The handset will sync with the PC using broadband and 3G/HSDPA connectivity.

So here we go. After Nokia, Sony Ericsson is now the second big player in the game. We are just waiting on the iPod subscription bundle and then the transition is officially started. We are on the way to the “music age of access”.

Subscription services didn`t get a huge success on their own yet (like Rhapsody and Napster). But maybe they can find success with a device bundle. Of course there is the second big business model “Free”  with ad supported versions like Last.Fm or MySpace Music and there will always be the illegal “darknet” p2p version of music download, but getting your adored “high end” device subsidized is a big lure for many people to make a subscription contract. I´m sure there will be some devices exclusive with the subscription bundle comparable to the iPhone & mobile provider deals at the moment. If you`ve signed a contract and the music service is great, you wouldn`t want to loose it, because it`s “so convenient”. And most important, the service will “feel like it`s free” after a while.  At the moment, the price per month is still a little bit high, but when the price falls to 5 or 7 Dollars per month, many people really won´t care about this addition to their monthly mobile/internet bill.
And at this point there always comes the obligatory question: Do you know how much money you spend for water usage at home every month? Did you ever care about water costs standing under the shower?

Students Don`t Care About Piracy

September 18, 2008

Well it`s no surprise.
According to a study by Darryl Woolley, assistant professor at the University of Idaho, piracy may not be perceived as  “immoral behavior” for students. Woolley has been analyzing piracy among university students for several years. Despite the greater awareness of copyright law, students have become less accepting of piracy. It appears that education about copyright law does not influence students’ attitudes toward piracy.

“Music piracy – especially among college students – is viewed as socially acceptable,” said Woolley. “What one’s friends think about illegal downloading influences one’s thoughts and behaviors. Unfortunately, professors or authority figures do not have the same kind of influence.”

According to Woolley, students aren’t even ashamed to admit illegally downloading music off the Internet. More than 95 percent of respondents in his research freely admitted to illegally downloading music, and some 63 percent admitted to copying a CD. Students indicated that they expect the trend to continue after they graduate and move into the workplace.

Found via Coolfer.

Talking With Pirates

September 11, 2008

I found this story via The Technium (Kevin Kelly).

The game developer Cliff Harris (e.g. Kudos) asked the online world on his website (including many pirates of his own games obviously), why they pirate games. He made no judgement, he was just asking. He got a lot of attention in the blogosphere (et al. Slashdot, Digg) and got tons of replies. “It was as if people have waited a long time to tell a game developer the answer to this question”. After analysing hundreds of replies, he found some very interesting insights.  I recommend to read his post. It`s not too long.

But the most important thing to me is how this new insights and the process of acquiring this information altered Cliff himself:

“My games aren’t as good as they could be. Ironically, one of the things that reduces your enthusiasm to really go the extra mile in making games is the thought that thousands of ungrateful gits will swipe the whole thing on day one for nothing. It’s very demoralizing. But actually talking to the pirates has revealed a huge group of people who really appreciate genuinely good games. Some of the criticisms of my games hit home. I get the impression that if I make Kudos 2 not just lots better than the original, but hugely, overwhelmingly, massively better, well polished, designed and balanced, that a lot of would-be pirates will actually buy it. I’ve gone from being demoralized by pirates to actually inspired by them, and I’m working harder than ever before on making my games fun and polished.”

I don`t think enough people in the industry are doing this. Talking to pirates. Understanding pirates. Seeing them as potential customers instead of judging them, fighting them.

There is a huge potential in having a closer look on the customer type “pirate”. Not just in optimizing your own product to get more value so they don`t pirate anymore, but also in motivating your own team and getting a deeper customer relationship with your target group. And pirates are definitely your target group.

Peer To Peer On The Mobile

May 21, 2008

Just found this article on Wired. There it is: The first big p2p application for a mobile phone. It`s funny that this appears at a time when Steve Jobs wants to conquer the music mobile business… iSlsk lets iPhones share music on the Soulseek network at decent speeds. It enables one to download half of a full-length movie in 20 minutes, while song downloads takes only three minutes over WiFi. See a short demo in the video. It seems to work… next generation filesharing?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video A La Carte –> A Disaster?

May 12, 2008

There was this Marc Cuban post a view days ago… and today I read again a post on Digital Media Wire by Paul Sweeting on the same theme: The report of Bernstein Research written by analyst Craig Moffet: “And Now for the News…The Emperor Has No Clothes”
I would love to read this report… but can´t afford it… so I’m just writting about what is posted out there in the blogosphere…

Craig Moffet made two important points in his report:

  • Consumer tolerance of advertising is much lower online than in the traditional TV channel and that it simply is not possible to support the sort of professional production values expected on TV through advertising online.
  • The web’s ability to let users select only the most desirable programs, or only the most desirable portions of programs–means programmers will not be able to leverage popular programs to support less popular programs through bundling

Don`t know what you think… but both points I don`t see as “dramatic” in the future as its discussed here (maybe it´s more dramatic in the shorterm):
First: People are already do something like “cherry picking”, not as much as they will do in the future but they already can choose their program format … under round about 50 Channels… the best format will win… now and in future. Zapping is no new thing.
Second: We can expect that people will at least watch the same amount of time video content now or in future irrespective of the media channel. So we have the same amount of attention, what means the same amount of value that can be monetized.
Third: People maybe don`t accept as much advertising online than on TV, but we will know the customer who is watching. We don`t have to believe on research based TV ratings… we will know the exact numbers and in future we are able to personalize advertising, the wastage of media money will be minimized, every user, every content view will be more valuable..
Fourth: The quality of watching video content will rise considerably – watch what, when, wherever you want – that means people will watch more video than ever before… so there will be even more attention to monetize.
Fifth: Bundling will definetely be an important tool in the digital age, like it is in the music industry. There will be just new kind of bundles…

And this is the real question: Which bundles could work? What kind of online platforms are able to monetize the content? What services or added value is needed? Who can compete with the “free” competition?

But the discussion in the blog posts mentioned above is more about the question: Are TV stations making a huge mistake by putting their current schedules online for free?

Marc Cuban added to the discussion the following point:

  • “The ala carting of video on the net will benefit those who enable the search for content and can monetize that search.”

Paul Sweeting made these points:

  • “What Moffet is describing is a process very much like what the record companies went through: a radical reorientation of the dynamic between producer and consumer. You do not “publish” or “distribute” content on the Internet, although publishers and distributors like to think they do. You make content available on the Internet for others to access and aggregate as they will. The process is fundamentally, always and ineluctably user-driven.”
  • Like it or not, the web simply isn’t very kind to publishers, packagers and distributors. It rewards enablers. Search is an enabling technology. (…) The challenge for publishers is not to figure out how to force the web to reward them. It’s to figure out how to capture the value created by enabling technology.

So far so good. I fully agree to all three points.

But then I was a little bit confused by conclusions like this from Paul:

“In that sense, Cuban is right. It may not make sense for the networks simply to make their schedules available for free on the Internet. That doesn’t really create any new value; it mostly just drains value from linear platforms.”

As Paul wrote himself, when the content is “public”, than it is available… Anyone know websites like “”? So, why shouldn`t they publish it online? It`s out there anyway. They can`t stop the technology! Said thousands of times…. There is the “free” (legal or not) competitor, so compete with it! Try to build your brand in the online world!

And to the question of Marc:

Will shows be forced to introduce different versions of shows, say with different ratings as a means of differentiating TV from streamed shows ? The R rated version of Friday Night Lights online and the PG version on TV?

I think content creator even have to go further: Transmedia Storytelling! Why shouldn`t there be complementary content for example at the daily mobisode, on the weekly TV show, the online version and the online game?.

And I fully agree with Paul:

“What the networks need is to figure out how to capture the value created by enabling consumers to access, select, aggregate, transform, embed and share content–in a word, to use it. Anything else is just TV with buffering.”

So please, don`t stop making content available for free online. But that`s not enough! There has to be more to monetize your content in the longterm. Video a la carte is not a disaster, but it`s just a small part of a new “business model” to monetize your content online. Try to find new ways to increase the consumer experience. Use the chance to present your content idea deeper and in more detail and extend than ever before to your fans. Not long ago you had just 40 minutes per week…

Sueing Your Customers… Good For Your Image?

April 25, 2008

Sueing your customers… well some guys said it before… not really a good idea, if you want stay in business with them.

Record labels most of the time have no direct contact to the consumers… the brands of their artists are and were much more important. So maybe some people thought, by hiding behind a “name” like the IFPI or RIAA, they can sue their customers wthout any negative…

But as the figures from PR agency Edelman (cited in this article from Peter Kafka) show, the consumer realizes what is happening… and who is acting… so the label image is getting worse and worse:

“The number of UK consumers who said they trusted the industry fell from 47% in 2007 to 31% this year, with confidence disturbed by moves by the music industry to track down and punish illegal music copying, and high-profile scandals in broadcasting.

Surveying younger consumers aged 18-34, Edelman found that 55% would take “direct action” against a company if they objected to its practices, 53% would share negative opinions with friends and 46% would ignore a firm’s marketing and advertising. Even more damning, a further 39% said they would not invest in those companies.”

So, on first sight you can still think, that`s no problem, cause the artist brand is the “selling brand”… but what happens when artists which are not signed at major labels sell more albums or get more attention, a bigger fanbase, when they are not signed at a major? What happens if bands seem to be much more credible when they are not signed at a major or even on a “record label”?

Record labels are on an artist market… talented artists always have the chance to choose where to sign… and in the digital age, there are new options:
Do it on your own – Radiohead – do it with a FMCG brand – Groove Armada – do it with a service brand – Paul McCartney – do it with a Concert Agency – Madonna …. just to name a few examples …

Argue hard with ISPs or online services or other parties who make money with your rights, but you should stop sueing your customers. You can`t stop piracy, so stop hurting your brand and relationship to your customers and your artists.

Just a thought.

Are We All Pirates? And What Can We Learn From The Fashion Industry?

March 30, 2008


If we can`t beat them, should we join them?

Matt Mason has published a book thinking about this question and some more. It`s titeled The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism.

For the Strategy and Business Magazine he gave an interesting interview. Here a few of his statements:

“Hollywood has simply refused to acknowledge the idea of simultaneous release because they’re so worried about the effect it will have on theater revenues. But according to the evidence, movies in the theater and movies on DVD are two different products. That tells me that if Hollywood accepted the presence of the pirates’ business model, (…), the movie companies could actually learn how to compete with them.”

“So rather than thinking about how we can stop piracy, let’s consider how we can come up with better ideas by thinking in the same way as the pirates. “

And a nice statement what the media industry can learn from the fashion industry:

In 2006, Congress began considering extending copyright protection to fashions — which had never before been protected — to try and bring them more in line with European laws, which are designed to protect smaller companies from having their designs stolen immediately by large retailers. Yet even during this reevaluation it was universally accepted that piracy is literally how the fashion industry innovates. Because people are able to copy the 3-D design of garments, they can create trends. And because those trends can be disseminated so quickly and the new rapidly becomes old, we have seasons in fashion. This allows the fashion industry to sell more clothes than if individuals could protect their designs for a long time and trends lasted a couple of years rather than a couple of months. The problem now is that copying is happening so fast in fashion that people are losing sight of the original.

The legal question facing Congress was how to protect the small designer from the potential losses from the copying of their designs. But what was so amazing to me was that everybody involved — the largest companies, the smallest designers, Congress itself — were all in agreement that the ability for people to be able to copy each other to a reasonable degree has to be preserved. You never hear anything remotely like that in the movie or music industries, or in any other industry that involves intellectual property.”

Never thought about that…

Here you can find more about piracy in the fashion industry…

I orderd the book of Matt… and will let you know…

Here a great speech about his book at the Medici Summit…



Supporting New Business Models?

January 30, 2008


Yesterday I mentioned shortly that copyright holders still living in “the old world” are not ready for taking risks in new business models. But even when they are not living there anymore, it would be impossible difficult to get them “moving”. Here is an example.

Maybe most of you already heard or read about it – The MIDEM speech of Paul McGuiness, Manager of U2.

He is talking about piracy, about stealing music … A manager who did with his Band 2005/06 one of the most successful Live Tours ever…

He is protecting his copyrights as long and as good as possible… and he should… but he probably wouldn`t support a legal new business model with realistic conditions. And the point is not, that he wouldn`t realize, what there is going on out there. Well… of course he made also some good arguments (see below). The point is that there is no trust to anybody, that he don`t want to accept that the value of his “information good” in the digital age has changed, that there is still this believe that you can reglement and control the internet.

Here some of the good parts of his speech:

“Personally I expect that Apple will before too long reveal a wireless iPod that connects to an iTunes “all of the music, wherever you are” subscription service. I would like it to succeed, if the content is fairly paid for. “Access” is what people will be paying for in the future, not the “ownership” of digital copies of pieces of music.”

“Network operators, in particular, have for too long had a free ride on music — on our clients’ content. It’s time for a new approach — time for ISPs to start taking responsibility for the content they’ve profited from for years.”

“I suggest we shift the focus of moral pressure away from the individual P2P file thief and on to the multi billion dollar industries that benefit from these countless tiny crimes — The ISPs, the telcos, the device makers.”

Coolfer collected some other opinions about the speech out there…

What Can We Learn From China?

December 21, 2007


For years the Chinese music industry (and video/dvd industry) has the most hostile environment that`s possible. Piracy rules there for many years long before the big digitalisation-internet-p2p wave here in Europe.

In order to survive the chinese music industry has to take over an artist’s entire life – recording, publishing, management etc. – 360 degrees – to get all possible revenue streams. For years now…

What can we learn from the industry there? What have they done? Is there anything useful? Are there similarities?

Some facts about China from Ed Peto:

– Physical piracy runs at around 90%.
– The average gig ticket is £3 and charging anything over £7 for a concert will alienate the young Chinese music crowd.
– Publishing is a foreign idea to the Chinese and is therefore a tiny, unpredictable source of income.
– All media is government owned or heavily government monitored and, in most cases, requires ‘financial incentives’ in return for coverage.
– Despite a population of 1.3 billion people, the legitimate physical music market was only worth US$86million in 2006, making it the 20th biggest in world.
– All foreign companies must enter a joint venture in order to set up shop in China, handing over at least 51% of their company in the process.
– All music has to go through lengthy and seemingly arbitrary government censorship procedures.
– China is a black hole of statistics, quite often by design, making market research and due diligence incredibly difficult.

Ed Petos blog about the Chinese Music Industry and this nice article at The Register.