Friday, November 07, 2003

Peer-to-Peer discussion with Entertainment Execs Interesting

Yesterday's general session on the problem of peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted materials was quite interesting. I especially enjoyed the "showmanship" of Jack Valenti. Even the attorney from the RIAA was articulate and came across as not at all threatening. I also found the president of Penn State quite intriguing.

Penn State is launching a project whereby the university has entered a partnership with RIAA to subscribe to an extensive database of music tracks to provide quality "legal" online music to their students as part of their university experience. Their motivation for this has apparently been threats from Congress under pressure from the powerful entertainment industry to pass legislation that would make the defacto ISP legally liable for the copyright violations of their constituent base. I thought it would only be a matter of time before this type of rumbling would surface because traditionally, claimants in court go after the target with the deepest pockets and a university would obviously have more financial base than the typical college student.

RIAA has apparently been pleased by the success of Apple's I-music initiative and applauds this effort as a viable business model that could be emulated by others. RIAA also appears to be taking a cue from the MPAA and is considering offering content-rich CDs or DVDs that would include value-added features like artist bios, music videos, etc. that would not typically be available from a pirate download site.

In presubmitted questions from the audience the issue was raised repeatedly of outdated business models and the industry being willing to eliminate middle men in their business that are essentially "dinosaurs" in the new online environment and reexamine pricing to be more reflective of the lower costs of this delivery mode. It reminds me a lot of the ebook market. Many publishers have been willing to jump on the ebook bandwagon but tried to price ebooks as high as a regular hardbound book even though the printing, inventory, and warehousing expenses had all been eliminated. That ridiculous pricing strategy coupled with a lack of a quality device to simulate the reading experience of a book with the features of digital manipulation has stifled the market thus far.

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