Is it time for the music and movie industries to change?



Or more importantly, are they willing to change and adapt? In the last few years, yet another revolution has come. After the radio which threatened to make concerts obsolete, after the cassette which threatened to make vinyls obsolete (well, vinyls have become obsolete, but because they have been replaced by CDs)... now comes the peer-to-peer file sharing which is scaring the music and movie industries. They are terrified as they feel that they are losing revenue to mass exchange of copyrighted material.

In a way, they are right... but more importantly, they are losing control. Instead of being able to enforce a select few means of distributing (i.e. generating revenue from) artist creations, they are now at a point where this material gets spread out without any form of control from them... and without any revenue.

So the media industry is fighting back. They would want to prevent people form sharing files. This is a natural way to think... but unfortunately it is flawed. Trying to solve a society problem through technology can't work.

What the media industry needs is to find new ways to live off of the artists' productions. In fact, the way it works is that artists need to find new ways to generate revenue from their artistic creations. The media industry might have a role to play, in this, as it is structured now... but most likely it needs to evolve significantly if it wants to survive. One thing is certain : the current model is doomed.

It is nice to see that there are attempts to build new models. Selling individual songs for downloads (iTunes, as well as some cell phone operators) is such an attempt, which has shown that new models can be successful.

What will be the model that will emerge, I don't know. DRM will have a role to play, but in what way? Digitaly watermarking media? Imposing controls on players? I think open-source media players will make DRM player control a non issue. I imagine a world where you download a media that is watermarked for you, and agreeing not to re-distribute it, since you can be tracked as the source of distribution if that should happen.

Other models will likely emerge.

But the way things are currently done is probably soon a thing of the past.

Time to get to the drawing board and come up with some really creative ideas.

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