this slashdot story got me thinking again about publishing content in the public domain. A couple weeks ago there was news about tv companies suing the likes of youtube for posting copyrighted content and all that jazz. Its a very interesting problem without a clear solution (well, we'll see about that anyway).
Say you produce content. You're ABC and you make Heroes, you're EA and you make FIFA 07, you're some record label recording Led Zeppelin... whatever. Doing this costs you money. You have to pay people to do this. You yourself are only doing this so you can make money. that's only natural, most people won't do work if they don't get paid for it.
The rise of the internet has made it impossible for content publishers to prevent people from stealing said content. Its not feasible; the crack only has to be applied once, distribution is widespread and if not untrackable, not worth tracking. Once you release it, people who want to are going to get their hands on it without paying for it. except in some fringe cases (MMO's, basically) thats the reality of the situation.
Most users are good people. Many pirate content not because they're upset about paying for it, but because its its just a lot easier to access that way. That used to be the reality anyway... i could head to my local music store and stive in vain to find a copy of Lakeshore Drive by... well whoever its by (part of the point that), or i could just search for it on napster and have it in minutes. theres a clear winner there. CD's themselves were another reason, no one wanted to pay 20 bucks for a cd when only one song was any good (remember melancholy and the infinite sadness? fucking $40 double cd and all i wanted was Tonight Tonight. bullshit).
TV companies have started to catch on, posting some of their shows streaming online. its a good start in the right direction, but not quite there yet; i can find HD-quality versions with no commercials on other sites. I wouldn't mind watching an ad or two at the start of the show, but they break them into like 5-6 minute chunks and do one in between each. not happening.
you can use something like itunes, but believe me, apple doesn't deserve to be making any money selling music. that they are is more a testament to how idiotic the music distribution companies were not getting in that market first. or you could just get it free.
back to that slashdot story, now apparently music (like, sheet music) publishers are pushing on sites that post guitar tabs (free sheet music, except you don actually have to be able t read music to read a tab). Thats insane; if i figure out a way to play my favorite song without ever reading any sheet music, i should have every right to share that method.
So we're faced with a widespread problem. The internet has provided pretty much unstoppable free distribution of copyrighted content. As a user you may not care (you get the good deal, right?) but remember that if there's no money to be made distributing this content, it won't get made. guaranteed. what's the solution?
Well the tv companies have the right idea; the producers of the content should publish it, for free, themselves. money lost in sales can be recouped in advertising, and users will be fine with that if its done right. i'm talking music, movies, tv shows, sheet music, books.... its going to happen whether publishers want it to or not, so they should ditch all this copyright lawsuit bullshit and get on board. hell, you can even ask for donations. Public broadcasting has been following these models for years now and while they aren't exactly huge financial successes (neither are they mainstream), and they're all still around and doing ok. but if you just do the advertising right...
i mean, say i sign up at a website that distributes tv shows, and i watch a lot of heroes and firefly. you can definitely direct certain ads at me and charge a lot more for those ads. just use google's model of advertising, its a perfect fit for this model. its how webcomics like penny-arcade thrive and i dont see why it cant work just as well for a music label. product placement is another excellent way to go (video and video games), as long as its well done, since at that point the advertising will directly impact the quality of the product. In short publishers need to give up their outdated ideas on how they can "sell" their product and adapt to the changing landscape of technology or go extinct. and this evolution is awesome for the consumer, since we'll get a ton of quality content, on demand, legal, and free.
or they can keep spinning their wheels in this stupid "content goes up, lawsuit goes out, server moves to switzerland" cycle, and attempts at DRM will continue to plague honest users and have no effect on the bad guys.
in the mean time, i'll continue to support worthy products in ways i think are fair. i will of course, err on the side of free (to me, suckers).