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monetizing IP in the digital age

The following is a post I wrote in response to this article at the NYTimes web site.

Just wanted to correct a misunderstanding that seems to be rampant here. The idea that the software won't be able to filter legitimate copies from copy violated ones. It is possible for Microsoft to do this but it will be expensive, they would simply monitor the file sharing networks for the illegal copies, determine some unique aspect of those copies and use that in the filter. They would then have to force Zune users to upgrade their players monthly, you know with a nice annoying security alert that can't be turned off, maybe every two weeks to keep up with the flood of copies that will be hitting the net for any particular show. It sounds next to insane yes, but it is not much less insane than the plan itself IMO.

You would think that at this late date the media companies would have realized that the users simply don't want any restrictions on the use of content on their devices. Give up the game and find other ways to monetize the IP, DRM will continue to be rejected or worked around by the consumer as the corporations simply waste money trying to implement it.

Prior to the development of digital media and ubiquitous distribution a la the internet corporations could sit back on a fat collection of IP copyrights and periodically print cash by releasing the products as new consumer technologies appear (VHS > DVD for example) there is no expiration on copyright so this gave these corporations the ability to periodically liven their businesses with old content. The internet has eliminated this endless business model for copyrighted IP by allowing a single copy to eventually spread to the point that the value of the property to the corporations is diluted. The new model for corporations will be to take advantage of the rapid spread of IP content as it is consumed by users. How do they do this? One way which I've come up with is to tie new content IP to the old, for example. You know that the latest Shrek movie will soon be all over BitTorrent for people to download in 6 months , so instead of trying to DRM restrict every possible device that could use that digital data you instead try to make money around the digital distribution. For example, the corporations could release pristine copies of the content *themselves* laden with advertisements for new content that is yet to hit the market. They can also advertise on behalf of third parties, as the content is consumed now, and the IP is diluted they have a built in distribution mechanism for a wide ocean of content categories. If they control the distribution of the "free" content, they now have the ability to take metrics on the effectiveness of the associated advertisements as they spread through bit torrent land. This model allows them to do something else, they could reduce the availability of the content to ONLY the digital media. (No more DVD's...just download from online) this would eliminate the revenue derived from the physical media but that may be compensated by the increased revenue derived from the advertising deals that are struck to distribute the media online in "free" ad supported forms. They have to kiss the cash cow of repeated reinvention of IP away, it is an obsolete model but in a world where cell phones out number pc's and television sets combined, the revenue potential that awaits advertising on a global scale may just make up for what is lost, and then some.


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