Negotiate with users
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 by Dave Winer.
I wonder if, with the benefit of hindsight, the music industry wishes it had done something different with Napster. Shutting it down might have felt good at the time, but did it cure the problem? Might there not have been a way to make hay out of the lemonade?
An example of a new deal -- tolerate the sharing low-rez scans of the music. Set a bit-rate that's semi-legal, and enforce, with Napster, the rule that anything scanned at a higher rate will immediately be removed, unless it can be shown that the artists permit redistribution of high scan-rate versions. I think even the indies would have gone for this, especially at the time.
The users would have had to realize that this is fair. We would get to share the ideas and feelings of the music, freely, which I think is what we want (it's what I want) but reserve for the commercial interests the best listening experiences.
The reason this is on-topic right now is because the same battle is playing out now in video, with YouTube. Two recent events caught my eye: 1. Viacom requests that all its content be pulled off YouTube, and then does a deal with Joost for distributing that content. 2. The Oscars ask YouTube to pull down clips from Sunday's show.
What if, instead, Viacom told YouTube that they could host clips from their shows, but reserved the hi-rez versions for themselves, and maybe they could have negotiated a link from the YouTube low-rez scan to the one served on their site. Anything would be better than the fractured world that's being re-created now. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if users knew they just had to go to YouTube to find what they're looking for, knowing that it would lead them to a purchasing experience if they want one.
It seems the entertainment industry doesn't recognize the power of its users. They're accustomed to dealing with artists and other companies, esp really large ones, but they haven't learned how to negotiate with the users, and that's who they have to deal with, if they want a future.
Update #1: Mark Cuban suggests a different negotiation with the user: Post a short verison of the video on YouTube, with the full version on the Oscars site, linked to by the video on YouTube. Not bad, but I like the lo-rez vs hi-rez approach better, as a user (which is what I am).
SF Chronicle: "The RIAA has sued thousands of college students since 2003."