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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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« Wendy Seltzer: The Engadget Interview | Main | More on Me2Me: Market No Savior »

October 25, 2004

The Real Threat: Me2Me

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Posted by

Jason proposes an interesting theory below: he argues that the recording industry's war on P2P may be a distraction from an even more mission-critical battle -- gaining control of "me2me."

It looks like David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix would agree with Jason; in a recent piece on the RIAA's strategies, Bernstein writes:

"[The] labels are missing the fact that store-bought CDs, while probably retaining a place in the consumer's world, cannot provide what today's users want: total portability of their music. If users can connect electronically to every song or album they have ever paid for, wherever they may roam, well, the CD just can't match that."

HBO, for one, is very straightforward in its FAQ that the goal is to take away your time/space shifting rights in order to sell them back to you. In one section, HBO says that it has sole discretion to "decide what copying privileges [we] wish to extend to consumers." In another, it tells you its "On-Demand" service means you no longer need to "time shift" programming. But if you would like to own the programming you've just paid to watch, you are certainly welcome to pay for it again. "[The] entire series of HBO's Original Programming (such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, etc.)...[is available] in attractive box sets with special features such as out-takes and directors' notes."

So perhaps this battle isn't so much about "competing with free" as it is about competing with our expectation that we can, as we did with analog media, pay once to enjoy our purchase anytime and anywhere.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Big Thoughts


1. David Reed on October 25, 2004 7:38 PM writes...

My cable provider Comcast announced that there would be selected on demand service on some of their product. I am guessing that HBO decision was about this.

I called up Comcast today and canceled my subscription to HBO. I think that everyone should do that. They can do anything they want with the IP that they own. But we don't have to buy it. Let the market rule.

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2. Rob on October 26, 2004 12:14 PM writes...

David has it exactly right. If the new model is to buy box sets of DVDs if you want to own the programming, why subscribe to the service? Just wait for the box set to come out. I have never subscribed to any of the cable movie channels, and see no reason to start now. I didn't even buy the boxed sets of The Sopranos, I simply rented them from Blockbuster as they became available. I also have never and will never purchase anything released on pay-per-view, as I consider it a waste of money and a poor value compared to going to a movie theater (unless your home theater system gives you a comparable experience to seeing the movie in the theater, which mine doesn't). These attempts to make us buy things two and three times (witness the Lord of the Rings DVD releases: first the "theatrical" release, then the "widescreen" release, then the "extended edition" release) are all doomed to failure in the long run as the consuming public learns they don't need all these versions and can simply wait for the final version. Ironically the comic book publishing industry has learned the same lesson; initially sales were increased by releasing multiple versions of the same issue with "variant" covers by different "fan favorite" artists. The effectiveness of this practice has waned over time and is only rarely engaged in today.

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3. emmanuel on October 27, 2004 12:37 AM writes...

i'm a musician and a publisher in this industry. and i'd like to say if you can't get the respect of your fans enough for them to buy your album, it's probably not worth buying. free electronic availability and distribution of music and movies with P2P and other filesharing networks doesn't decline support of the arts, it supports it. the most important thing about art is its accessibility. every good artist would like the whole world to hear their music. the ones that are complaining are just afraid that their art is not good enough for people to want to support them. true fans buy the discs and the dvds! if you don't your just a user, and you don't matter too much. to the good artist, your filesharing provides them with free promotion, not financial losses. to a good artist, ammasing money does not equal the wealth of inspired people complimenting you on your art. its as simple as that. those that complain about copyrights are not worth supporting.

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4. sulak on October 28, 2004 1:53 PM writes...

First we bought the Beatles on 45s. Then on Long Playing discs. Then on 8-tracks. Followed by cassettes. Then CDs.

If we really paid for the license, we should be able to trade in an old vinyl for a free download or at least a free CD.

This is all about wanting to have your cake and eating it to, or more accurately about eating your lunch.

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