back to article How to fix the broken internet economy: START HERE

How can we begin to unpick the tangled mess that the technology and creative industries have created? There's certainly no shortage of blame to go around. In the past every new wave of technology has delivered healthy creative markets - but today this is no longer happening. Just 20 years since the birth of the internet …

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Anonymous Coward

I'd like them to stop region control

My wife loves the music artiste "P!nk" and was naturally excited when she received a tweet the other day telling her there was a new single out, she went to the website and watched the video, then straight to iTunes to buy the song (probably the album too)

It wasn’t available, back to P!nk's website and it looks like the song isn't available until sometime in September for UK fans.

WTF, Seriously, W . T . F!!

Way to shoot yourselves in the foot Music Label. Needless to say my wife now has the song, didn’t pay anything for it of course and might (or might not) buy the song legally when it’s available in the UK

Anon Obviously

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Re: I'd like them to stop region control

Unfortunately, that's a symptom of global companies continuing to think locally.

IIRC, Pink is on RCA who are owned by Sony Music USA, which in turn is owned by Sony USA. Sony Music USA are probably the people who have negotiated releases with iTunes (USA bit), but in the UK the distribution rights will come via Sony Entertainment Music UK and will be negotiated with the UK bit of iTunes as a different deal.

(Incidentally, it will almost certainly be the same story for other resellers like Amazon.)

So what you have is a global company dealing with another global company for a global release but only ever operating a local level.

I'm almost certain that Apple/iTunes, Amazon et al would be more than happy to just sign global deals and be done with it and I rather expect that Sony (and the others) have made this rod for their own back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'd like them to stop region control

I'm pretty sure that this sort of thing is because it's not really possibly for an artist to appear on the chat show circuit and make appearances on radio/telly to promote a new track/album in two continents at the same time.

It would be nice if they could somehow only "tweet" to people in the US about US news and people in Europe about European news, but I don't think twitter works that way.

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Re: I'd like them to stop region control

Did you even read the article? Media companies can't stop people looking into other people's gardens any more and stuff like staggered releases and region control merely pisses off potentially legitimate customers.

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Re: I'd like them to stop region control

You know what would be awesome? If all those "Sorry, you can't buy that right now" messages were recorded and sent to the record labels. "When this came out, we had 20,000 requests that we turned down, because they weren't from the US."

But you know what? Sony et al would probably just use that information to "crack down on pirates" because when the music did become available, those people didn't all buy it, so they must have pirated it.

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Megaphone

Its a Minefield

You make some good points - faults on all sides of course.

But content licencing (an area in which I work) is a minefield. I can get video of a sporting event by signing a complicated and absurd contract and putting my house and children up as collateral. So far so good.

But if the crowd is chanting a copyright song (like 'You'll Never Walk Alone') I have to contact, and licence, and pay, collection companies in every damn country in which I want to show it. And pay more per view than I make in revenue - just for the crowd noise!

It is actually impossible to know if you, or anyone else, has fully cleared rights. You may think you have - right up until the moment someone takes you to court in Absurdistan or somewhere. The only people getting rich are lawyers, and they are getting rich mostly by saying 'I don't know the answer to that. I can put you in touch with someone in that country who also won't know the answer, but it will cost you'.

I am not surprised that even Google can't innovate in a space with so much uncertainty, and so many organisations claiming money for nothing.

As a user, I don't pirate and I am a Spotify subscriber. I am trying to do the right thing. But please provide a broader range and better quality for my 10 quid a month.

As a user and as an innovator, it seems to me it should not be this hard, or this expensive.

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Holmes

Re: Its a Minefield

Assuming the above statements are correct as to the licensing requirements, I would like to add that the example song, "You'll Never Walk Alone" was written about 1945 (67 years ago) and the authors, whose contributions to "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" are being promoted by the copyright protection, in fact died 52 (Oscar Hammerstein) and 33 years (Richard Rodgers) ago.

What is this really if not simply the result of (extremely successful) rent seeking activities by those who, for the most part, contribute nothing beyond economic friction?

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Re: Its a Minefield

The reason there isn't a broader range is because independents, like the music label I do some work for, are sick of being ripped off by Spotify. Thus we removed our content from Spotify.

They pay only £0.0003 per stream, which gets rounded down to zero. Great... thanks, but no thanks.

It's great that you are trying to do the "right thing", which, as this article says, two thirds of people do. However Spotify is owned by the majors, who have already paid royalities to their artists, thus any income they see from Spotify they get to keep all of it. Thus the ridiculously low royalty rates. Spotify is doing NOTHING to create a viable economy for the future of the music industry. All it is doing is making the rich richer, and leaving the content creators out to dry.

The CEO of Spotify is in the top 10 richest people in the music industry in England, behind only one of the artists on his network. When you get that warm, glowing feeling that you are paying for the music you listen to, just remember it is going into his pocket, not the person who created the music you love.

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Silver badge

Re: Its a Minefield

I can't say what the laws are like in other countries but surely the football chant is covered by fair dealing in the UK because it's just incidental inclusion.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states:

(1)Copyright in a work is not infringed by its incidental inclusion in an artistic work, sound recording, film or broadcast.

(2)Nor is the copyright infringed by the issue to the public of copies, or the playing, showing or communication to the public, of anything whose making was, by virtue of subsection (1), not an infringement of the copyright.

(3)A musical work, words spoken or sung with music, or so much of a sound recording or broadcast as includes a musical work or such words, shall not be regarded as incidentally included in another work if it is deliberately included.

My understanding is that if the fans chant it then you're fine. If you dub a studio version over the top of the footage then you're infringing. IANAL though...

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Silver badge

Re: Its a Minefield

I'm still baffled why, in this day and age, we need "music labels" at all. Musicians have all the resources they need to market their own materials (this internet thing). What is the added value of a label? (Honest question , since I'm not, and never have been, in the music business).

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Happy

Re: Its a Minefield

There are many reasons touted, not sure all are completely accurate but there is still a grain of truth to them... the three biggies I can think of are:

a) With amateur production kit and limited production experience you can't get the sort of recording results that you could release. Unless you're a deliberately "Lo Fi" kind of outfit this will generally be a problem for you, and limit your potential audience. This means that you'll need to spend time in a proper recording studio and hire professional people, which costs a good chunk of money. Fine if you're Radiohead and you can front it, but a big problem if you're starting out.

b) Record labels do have amazing publicity machines. Whether they tend to use them to good effect is subjective given some of the old shit they keep trying to pump to people, but still, if they want something to sell they generally can make it happen - using billboards, TV advertising, pulling strings to get support slots and so on.

c) Distribution. Not many people buy in shops anymore, but an awful lot of people still want a physical copy such as a CD. This is for various reasons such as snobbiness about sound quality (FLAC isn't quite established in the mainstream yet) to people who just like the album art and cover notes. This media costs money to master and press (this kind of follows on from the first point really)

Hope that helps, there are plenty of other reasons trotted out. Hopefully they will all disappear at some point as record companies are an extra layer between musicians and music lovers that ideally we'd be able to do without.

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Silver badge

Re: Its a Minefield

Thanks, fixit_f. They were ideas I'd had, but, like you, I don't see how they are necessary or sufficient to enable the status quo to be maintained. A quick look on rentmystudio.co.uk (found through Google - it is not somethig I've ever looked for previously) shows studios for rent at about £25 an hour or £180 per day in my area (East Midlands), but I'm not sure how long it would take to produce a track/album. It could become a significant cost to someone on low income.

I'm still not seeing the benefit of big studios and restrictive contracts, though :-)

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Re: Its a Minefield

I live near a recording studio with a very good engineer who records for major labels. As an unsigned band, a couple of days with him will cost £1000 and you'll get a professionally produced EP out of it, using all the latest technology. That's the easy bit, assuming you can actually play, write decent songs and function as a band. The next bit, getting it to stand out from all the other wannabe tracks that appear all over the internet, and getting people to pay for it, is much harder.

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FAIL

Unicorn sighted! Oh wait, it's just a donkey with an ice cream cone stuck on its napper :(

Thought Ultraviolet had the potential to be a unicorn, but after buying a UV Blu-Ray and experimenting with the process of unlocking the digital content I was sent packing, forced back to the torrents that I've not really used for a few years now.

Woeful 'experience'.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Unicorn sighted! Oh wait, it's just a donkey with an ice cream cone stuck on its napper :(

I did not even get that far, I read about it on this esteemed organ and immediately found it won't work on Linux. Now I do have access to an old copy of Windows, but it comes back to the point that Andrew made (as countless others have) that DRM sucks!

The inconvenience and high probability of paying for something and getting screwed later is too high, and suddenly them there torrents looks might good, me hearty!

It comes back to this issue of control-freakery, and I guess some of that comes back to Byzantine licensing terms for each and every country and media that exists having grown over the years. Also pointed out is 2/3 of users are 'honest', so why make life hard and irritate your paying customers to protect content that is mostly going to be paid for, and those who don't pay you can't practically stop anyway?

I wish that some sense could be injected to both sides of the copyright debate.

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Thumb Down

I'd much rather go with HMV's triple-play packages where you get the same content on Blu-Ray, DVD (works on older players, trivial to rip) and iTunes download (Don't need to actually even rip the DVD).

This UltraViolet nonsense is exactly that. Nonsense.

And I seem to remember the musicians unions objecting to pianolas (self-playing pianos) and Edison's wax cylinders. The movie industry tried (and thankfully failed) to kill off home video, they took another crack at it with Tivo and Content shifting, and of course it goes without saying what an omnishambles their reaction to MP3 tech was. I'd say that tne entertainment industry being hostile to technology is far from a new phenomena.

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Anonymous Coward

Missing...

The article is not really bursting at the seams with practical and concrete measures. This might possibly be due to the fact that practical and concrete measures do not really exist.

And nothing can be done while it is still possible to download pretty much any song for free.

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A practical measure

The lawyers on all sides need to be put back in the box.

In the case of the major labels, mostly run by lawyers, this will automatically ensure new management with a can-do attitude, since lawyers' creativity is demonstrably restricted merely to inventing opportunities (ie laws) for other lawyers' to inhibit creativity.

Why encourage lawyers? The problem is that too many people see lawyers simply as heavy artillery in a zero sum game. But it is not a zero sum game - creativity is an inexhaustible resource.

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Bronze badge

Re: Missing...

Yes there is: universal value tokens - i.e. digital money. If I could, I would happily give a few bucks for stuff I can download for free. But not if I have to screw around with PayPal, Apple, Amazon, Google... that isn't money, it's "funny money": non-fungible private currencies with exhorbitant transaction costs.

I don't know if digital money is *practical*. Even more than physical cash, it's prone to abuse by governments, banksters, drug/arms/slave traffickers, and other organized criminals. That includes Bitcoin.

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Big Brother

Creative Industries?

There's a difference between the artists that actually perform, and the Music Labels that end up with lots of cash. The music labels aren't a creative industry, they are content distribution, and they failed to keep up with the killer technology, the internet. I doubt the issues can be really addressed until it is accepted that the Labels will die... obviously, they will fight every way they can (laws, DRM...) to prevent that.

Perhaps then we'll see mass-market "Superstars" disappearing, and a return to more participatory entertainment, lots of artists with small audiences.

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Silver badge

Re: Creative Industries?

There are already lots of artists with small audiences. What we should have by now are lots of artists with big audiences. The internet should in theory allow any musician to make it big.

The problem however is that the music labels don't want new and unpredictable competition and so the markets are heavily stacked against independent musicians. How can any content delivery company make genuine attempts to interest customers in independent music when they rely on the goodwill of the big labels to license catalogues which in turn is what attracts the punters to their service in the first place?

The only real option for independent musicians is to go it alone, to try and promote and sell their music recordings by themselves. This is where piracy creates problems. Post an independent artist's music on a torrent site and suddenly the musician has to take time away from creating music or selling music to defend their copyright. Without big money and a legal department backing them up, defending copyright starts taking up ridiculous amounts of their time.

Why bother defending copyright though, surely it's just free advertising right? Perhaps at first but it really doesn't take long for the number of sites offering a musician's song for free to swamp the places it can be legitimately bought. Imagine you're a week a way from pay day and you simply must have the new [favourite artist]'s album. You go to Google to bring up that artist's page in order to check the price and see if it's within your budget. When you enter the search query though, 9 of the top 10 results are sites offering you the album for free. What do you do?

Yes there are nice people who never pirate but the rest of us don't live in quite such a black and white world. There are people, even just in this thread, who will openly admit that copyright infringement is wrong and then go and torrent something because they don't want to wait a month for a release. They're also unlikely to buy a legitimate copy when it is released either because by that point there's some new shiny on the horizon that demands their cash. Don't get me wrong, a staggered release date is massive stupidity on behalf of the labels and drives people towards piracy, I'm merely using it as an example of how small a push it really takes to make somebody go running to the 'bay.

As for a solution? It's stumped people who are vastly more intelligent than myself. I can only offer one suggestion:

Starve the big labels of your cash and eventually these dinosaurs will die out but don't promote piracy because it harms most those who can least afford it, the small content producers.

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Holmes

"moved on from the early movie dramas"

That might explain why the Content® is so crap, and therefore why nobody wants to pay for it.

Maybe if we had fewer comic-book adaptations, suitable only for brain-dead American teenagers, and more well-written dramas, suitable for intelligent adults, there might actually be something worth paying for.

I find the MAFIAA's denialism and arrogance quite perplexing. They produce the most abominable garbage, violently insist that we pay for it, then scratch their heads in bewilderment and anger when we refuse to do so.

Fix the Content® first, before worrying about how to "protect" it.

The "IP" fraternity would also do well to remember that it was their choice to invest in the sort of business that attempts to monetise something so ethereal, so there's little point in their whining about the difficulties associated with monopolising it. They just have to accept that something which can be so easily copied, will be copied, and learn to sell it on a more equitable basis, if they want to sell it at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "moved on from the early movie dramas"

> Maybe if we had fewer comic-book adaptations, suitable only for brain-dead American teenagers, and more well-written dramas, suitable for intelligent adults, there might actually be something worth paying for.

Some comic books are well written dramas suitable for intelligent adults. The Hollywood versions are either bastardised beyond recognition or taken from the worst the genre has to offer.

The problem is that the lowest common denominator crap sells best. You can heavily market it to millions of people and all you need to do is provide a bare minimum of quality so that the consumer doesn't actively hate your product.

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Re: "moved on from the early movie dramas"

"Maybe if we had fewer comic-book adaptations, suitable only for brain-dead American teenagers, and more well-written dramas, suitable for intelligent adults"

Well the irony there is the comic-book adaptations are frequently about the most intelligent and well-written dramas you find among mainstream blockbusters these days. The Avengers is written extremely well (as it should be, since Joss Whedon wrote it).

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Bronze badge
Coffee/keyboard

Joss who?

(Quick Google later...)

Ah yes, Mr. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and lots of stuff cancelled by the networks.

If such literary "genius" is the benchmark by which today's Content® is judged, this really must be the end of the line for western culture.

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Re: Homer1

One would almost think you were forced to pay for and watch these films that you dislike so much. Or perhaps a perceived drop in quality is just a handy excuse to placate your conscience when you don't pay but watch anyway?

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Pirate

Re: "forced to watch"

Who said I watch them? If I manage to endure an entire trailer it's a miracle. I don't need to watch an entire film or programme to know it's basically just for kiddies, of the overgrown variety or otherwise.

As for paying: I, and everyone else with the audacity to buy a television set in the UK, already pay the BBC Tax for the "privilege", even though I never watch broadcast TV any more, and haven't done so for years. I'm relegated to watching stuff from the pre-junk (i.e. reality-TV/comic-book movie) era, all of which I'm sure I've already paid for several times over, over the course of many years, in various media, and I'll be damned if I see why I should have to pay for it yet again.

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Silver badge

Re: "forced to watch"

If you don't watch or record broadcast TV, why do you pay for a TV licence? You're not legally required to have one for watching your pre-existing media (DVDs, VHS, etc).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "forced to watch"

@Homer1, if you don't watch broadcast TV, you don't need a TV license.

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Silver badge

Re: Joss who?

I have to agree with you Homer. All the content you like should be DRM'ed up the wazoo and Batman and the Avengers should be left alone.

"I can't watch the Notebook or the Lakehouse on my iPad!! NOOOOOOOOOOO"

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Re: "forced to watch"

Ah, but if your playback device (TV, PC, Video etc) is *capable* of receiving broadcast signals, then you MUST have a TV license - whether you actually watch the broadcast or not.

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Silver badge

Re: "moved on from the early movie dramas"

Then you have V for Vendetta and Watchmen, both based on serious, thrilling graphic novels. But as others have said, when you have 1 million intellectuals who will plunk down $50 for serious content vs. 10 million sheep willing to pay $10 each for the latest drivel which costs less to produce than the serious stuff, guess who wins.

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Pirate

fungibility

You only wrote all that to put in fungibility

But the evidence from the publishing business is that it could have been done properly from the start

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"In the past every new wave of technology has delivered healthy creative markets - but today this is no longer happening."

If you truly believe that you are looking in the wrong places... the creativity coming out of the Maker movement and Reprap community is amazing.

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Silver badge

two points

"...but in peacetime it's the demand for culture and entertainment that spurs the most innovation." Actually, I believe that the pornography industry has been driving the innovation engine in recent times.

"In essence, the Nexus is a kind of DRM dongle for content that doesn't have DRM, and will never need DRM, because it's worthless and will never need "protecting"." I believe the sound that you just heard was: woosh! Perhaps, if Google produce a DRM'd system that will allow them to securely (defined by MPIAA/RIAA) deliver content, wouldn't it be likely that the content providers would either 1) line up to have their content delivered via this method or 2) license said technology and deliver the content themselves?

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Unhappy

Re: two points

>Perhaps, if Google produce a DRM'd system that will allow them to securely (defined by MPIAA/RIAA) deliver >content, wouldn't it be likely that the content providers would either 1) line up to have their content delivered to >the US and Canada via this method or 2) license said technology and deliver the content to the US and >Canada themselves?

Fixed that for you.

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FAIL

Geographical availability

That is what screws up most of these business models right away.

If you actually cannot get the media in your country, but know it is out there, there is a huge incentive to obtain it via "alternative sources".

Three years ago I could surf to any ebook vendor site and download anything they had on sale.

Now they all have "only available in the US and canada" everywhere.

Amazon.co.uk has "This publisher has not yet made this book available on kindle"

If you are lucky the ebook version will turn up in the UK at some point, months down the line.But sometimes not even then, as if the book is niche enough , it will never get its rights bought in this country.

WTF? This made some sense when you would actually have to commission a print run in the country concerned, but we are talking about making some computer bits legally copyable.

And if you do make them copyable, you will make money you will otherwise not make.

Even dumber when the book wont be hard copy printed in the country for the same niche reason.

Some kind of mass foot shooting going on out there.

The same with films that were released in the US well ahead of the UK theatrical release (sometime the US DVD was coming out before they arrive in UK cinemas)

And the first posters P!nk example as well.

These are the companies who thought DVD regions were a good idea, and would actually accomplish anything (top tip, the DVD player doesn't actually know what country it is in)

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Thumb Down

Re: Geographical availability

>Now they all have "only available in the US and canada" everywhere.

>

>Amazon.co.uk has "This publisher has not yet made this book available on kindle"

>

>If you are lucky the ebook version will turn up in the UK at some point, months down the line.But sometimes not even then, as if the book is niche enough , it will never get its rights bought in this country.

Hear, hear. I find it particularly irritating, as a Kindle owner, to find that some internationally published (in paperback) mainstream fiction books are available for Kindle on amazon.com but not amazon.co.uk and therefore I can't get them.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Geographical availability

This drives me utterly barmy.

I want to give you my money for $ELECTRONIC_FILE, yet you refuse point blank to take it because I don't happen to live in the USA.

I'm even happy to give it to you in US Dollars and take the currency exchange risk upon myself, yet you still refuse.

So I can either go without or infringe the copyright. (And in this case, infringing demonstrably doesn't harm you.)

While it might become available for me to buy months or years later, by then I've forgotten about it/am no longer interested. In many cases it never becomes available to me.

Either way, somebody else gets my money for something else. Well done, that region-lock was a great idea!

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Anonymous Coward

Technology angle?

I'm not sure what any of this has to do with technology. Problems are solved, new problems appear. The technology ones seem to be solved at an ever increasing rate. The social, geographical, political and economics ones take longer.

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FAIL

Like radio or CDs ?

The music business seems to have been able to do a deal with Internet radio stations. I remember reading a few articles when both sides were negotiating hard a few years ago when Internet radio stations were threatening to cease broadcasting to get prices down and eventually the 2 sides thrashed out a deal. Looking recently at what's available I was amazed at the growth of channels catering for all musical tastes.

But here there's no pretence of trying to recreate anything like the packaged CD business. No attempt to control what the radio stations play. No need to know exactly who is listening to what - though presumably there's some means of getting audited listener counts and sampling song popularity so the royalties can be billed and split with a degree of objectivity.

So why can't they license ISPs to carry P2P music in a similar manner ?

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FAIL

Game of Thrones

GoT is typical of the content producer's broken thinking. Currently (I believe) the most pirated series ever, it is a shining example of how not to distribute media.

Basically, it was shown on restricted channels, and in restricted regions of the world, and not made available to buy. And it's bloody good. Thus it has been downloaded by pretty much everybody, and their dog.

Maybe I have a rosy tint to my glasses, but I believe that most people don't want to download illegally, they just have to, either because it is the only way, or because it is so much easier, than paying for it.

There's not even a date on Amazon UK for the season 2 box set, but I'm willing to bet everyone has downloaded it by bit torrent already.

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Thumb Up

Re: Game of Thrones

You must be referring to this:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

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Devil

Re: Game of Thrones

Yeah, agreed, in general. It took almost a year for GoT to appear on DVD/BD, absolutely crazy in this day and age.

However stupid that decision was, though, it's still HBO's decision. It's still HBO's product. They might only have been able to get the finance together by promising to withhold the series from home media for that long. Maybe Sky and others with rights to HBO shows put unreasonable conditions on their purchase of the series, and HBO thought, well, it's better than not getting made *at all*, so what the hell.

Ultimately you're not entitled to something for free simply because you really really really want it, and next time you decide to torrent something instead of paying for it, you might just find you've caused the show you love to be cancelled.

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Holmes

Re: Game of Thrones

The argument made was that many/most would have paid a reasonable price willingly but were not willing to wait for an indeterminate period until they could purchase on physical media or stream or download it for such a reasonable price. So they averted their eyes and downloaded it where they could. So the distributors passed on an opportunity to take in possibly substantial amounts from honesty-inclined consumers who succumbed to their frustration, probably the great majority. Instead, they set up barriers and whine about "piracy."

If they were rational economic actors they would operate to maximize income. That probably would entail making the movie/program/music available, setting up an easy way for consumers to buy the product, and setting a reasonable price for it. They could recognize, as stores for physical goods do, that some people are going to cheat, and institute some reasonable measures to limit that, but if the price is right and purchasing is easy, most people will take the honest path.

For all the favorable comments about book publishers, I don't think they are a lot better than the MPAA and RIAA, what with DRM encumbered eBook prices much the same as those for printed books. Most eBooks should carry a price significantly lower than their printed and bound equivalents, because they are distinctly inferior to paper in that they are not transferable or lendable (or, for libraries, can only be lent a fixed number of times before they die).

Most "content" producers have devoted great effort to various to enforcing and perpetuating their monopolies and not nearly so much to selling products to their potential paying customers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Game of Thrones

I paid for season 1 while watching season 2.

I could have watched it for free in Australia if I was keen on ads and waiting a year.

There's nothing that has been generated by the music industry in years that has tempted me to give them any money, and their acting like asshats hasn't encouraged giving them any either. I went looking around at music the other day, I want CDs as the best of a bad lot (compression wise), but I can't even get a (horrible) 96kbps mp3 copy to listen to to see if I want to buy. The music industry has thrived on selling it's back catalogue for years, and they're basically denying access to it..

I'm also not impressed by being good enough to drag my ass to the movie theatre and give them money to be shown an ad about how piracy (of the major American release I'm watching) is destroying the local Australian industry. 1) bollocks, 2) if I downloaded it at home I wouldn't have to put up with this garbage. The content industries continually penalise purchasing with unskippable ads and DRM and wonder why oh why don't people buy more?

I think next time I might try and encourage some 5 year olds to put on a play. They'll appreciate the $20 more, probably be a lot funnier/more entertaining, and behave a lot better than the content industries.

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Headmaster

This stuff predates the Web...

Anybody heard of Personics?

In the late 80's a company called Personics invented a system which allowed visitors to a record store to make their own mixtapes from a list of tracks displayed at a kiosk in a record shop. (The tapes were made from special CDs mastered at 4x speed, recording on tapes at 4x speed, so a C-90 took about 25 minutes to make). You could thus sample tracks, make your own compilations and try out stuff over days rather than the minutes an in-store listen gives you.

Just like taping from your friend's record collection except everybody got paid.

The problem was that the record business was about selling pieces of plastic. Personics wasn't pieces of plastic. So the major labels didn't license their music to Personics and because of a paucity of content Personics died.

I remember being extremely impressed by it and making a tape just because it was a cool thing.

Already then, it was clear that the record business was the buggy-whip business with lawyers. If there had been anybody with clout in the major labels who could see the benefits of decoupling the content from the media Personics would have thrived, and there would have been a precedent and a model from the first days of the commercial WWW. But of course if the Queen had balls...

The European indie label I was working for at the time was distributed in the US by Epic, so we were blocked from getting involved.

Later during my time in the record game, an extremely well-connected person once told me that the true power in the US record labels lay with the bean-counters who juggled the margins on the wholesale prices of the records and tapes, and that to them the content was irrelevant. The experience of Personics, together with the subsequent RIAA monkey-business against consumers would seem to bear this out.

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Megaphone

Part of the problem, particularly when it comes to TV shows is that channel packages like Sky are the televisual equivalent of having to buy an album to get one song.

This is a sort of dual edged sword.

On the one hand, it means that if you want to watch just one show (lets use Game of Thrones as the examplehere) you need to buy a package, which will also pay towards content you will never ever watch, be it gameshows, sports, documentaries, whatever.

However it also means that you might be able to discover a great show which you never would have paid for up front without seeing any.

If ( like me ) you are resentful of the deluge of crap surrounding the desired content, and you don't buy into the channel, you will find out about the good shows because of the people who bought in and were then able to talk about it.

One interesting thought experiment is this: imagine Game of Thrones was made into a TV series available solely on DVD, globally, all at once. Who would drop the funds for the box set without having seen it? Where would the budget come from to make a program like that?

When you package so much content into a single price point, the successes pay for the flops. If each has to stand on its own merit, you have the same situation as movies and games where a flop can end a production studio and the big players all start to edge away from risk.

It's sort of like the Beeb. The unique way in which Sky/BBC is funded allows Sky/BBC to take risks on larger more innovative programming. The difference is you can choose to buy into Sky or not. This goes for any paid channel package, I just mention Sky because it's the first one that comes to mind. There's also Virgin Media and... um... I think that's it in the UK. Wow, only two players.

One way that these exclusive content creators can make back their investment in countries where they don't provide a channel is to arrange exclusive license deals with other channels in those local regions. Obviously the country of origin for the content producer is the first to get it but if they release globally they're reducing the possibility of license fees from 'exclusive' rights to global markets. Given that roughly the same number of people will end up buying the DVD set eventually anyway it's like a way to sell the same content many times. Like cinema releases followed by DVD releases and then TV license deals. It's all about multiple sales of the content to the same people. The content costs a lot to make, I'm not surprised they want to monetise the successes as much as possible.

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Silver badge

The main problem with the copyright industry isn't being late to market; although that is a factor. It's their attitude and strategy of kneeling on their own customer's windpipes -legally speaking- introducing punitive measures in order to protect an outdated business model. All stick and no carrot.

Declaring war on both your own customers and the technically-savvy people who are the very ones who could help you just is never going to be a winning strategy.

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Meh

I think you've missed a couple of important things, Andrew.

Firstly, your suggestion about tokens - I get what you're talking about, but it's not going to fly. Bundling Spotify/iTunes credit/Amazon MP3 store credit/eMusic download bundles might fly, but people have been trying to create a universal micropayment system for years and they've never taken off, mainly because too much faffery. And there's a nontrivial risk of just following the XKCD "Standards" issue if you try to fix that one without planning very carefully while being very lucky (http://xkcd.com/927/, for reference).

Secondly, the biggest single solution for the "internet economy" would be for the copyright holding companies to stop being dickheads acting like they still live in the late 90s. You'd think it was obvious, but apparently it's not. Example: I like The Big Bang Theory. I'd really quite like to watch new episodes as soon as I can. The copyright holding company's view about this is that the US gets the premiere first of all (fair enough, it's produced by a US network). UK networks get to wait somewhere between 6 and 12 weeks for those new episodes, then we get to wait a good bit more for the DVD release. The same delays apply to digital releases via iTunes (currently the only online store I know of that does download-to-own video sales, which is another bit of fuckwittery in action).

There is no good reason for this. Not with a new show that has been developed at a point where networks are aware of streaming and downloading as viewing options. So why are the contracts still set up in such a backwards fashion? Because they're being written and designed by old men who have no understanding of how their audience works.

Now you tell me how many people in the target audience for any modern television show will say "Well, it's not released here for another 8 weeks because the studio's thinking with someone's bellend again when negotiating international distribution rights, so let's just sit and wait for it"? And how many will say "fuck them, fire up bigtimeawesometorrentbucket.com and we'll be watching it in 15 minutes"?

TL;DR - go read the comic at TheOatmeal about trying to watch Game Of Thrones (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones). It summarises the experience of anyone trying to watch any modern video content. (Music isn't subject to as many retarded constraints purely because it's more feasible for an artist to self-release, but as a result TV & film companies are training their audiences to pirate stuff in the exact same way that music companies did for ages...)

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