Viacom: Wrong On Almost Every Thing

from the nice-work dept

It's no secret that we think Viacom has made some really bad strategic moves recently (while sister company, CBS seems to be making the right moves). However, it's still impressive to see Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman lay out so many wrongheaded strategic positions in a single speech. Clearly, Viacom's strategic sickness comes from the top -- and it's going to strangle the company as others, who actually pay attention to basic economics and trends, run rings around Viacom over time. Let's take a look at all the issues that Dauman is wrong on.
  • DRM and watermarking: Dauman says the way to defeat piracy is for companies to "unite against piracy by installing more safeguards." How's that been working so far? Right, it's only made the problem worse and pissed off a bunch of folks by treating them as criminals. Limiting what people can do and treating them like criminals diminishes value, rather than increases it. As more and more companies are learning this, it's simply going to push people away from stragglers like Viacom.
  • Spurring creative output: Dauman insists that copy protection and watermarking are necessary to "usher in an unprecedented period of creative output across the globe." Apparently he hasn't been paying attention. We're already in an unprecedented period of creative output across the globe -- and it isn't because of copy protection and watermarking, but because of increasingly simple tools for content creation, promotion and distribution -- all of which are held back by things like DRM and watermarking.
  • Easy copying and distribution seen as a problem: Dauman apparently complained about how awful it is that "all manner of intellectual property" can now be reproduced more easily than ever "at the click of the mouse." Only in the world of someone who doesn't understand basic economics would that person lament the fact that the tools of creation and distribution are getting cheaper. For most people who recognize that they're selling benefits, not products, having the cost of production and distribution drop to virtually zero would be seen as an opportunity, not a problem. Unfortunately for Viacom, there are plenty of companies that do view the easy reproduction of content as an opportunity rather than a threat, and that's going to hurt Viacom if it continues its current policies.
  • Supporting ISP plans to filter traffic: Dauman apparently applauded AT&T's efforts to filter copyrighted content. It's not hard to see why he would support this, but it seems like a model designed to simply waste AT&T's money. There's no clear way for AT&T to profit from this -- and, if anything, it will just annoy users of AT&T who will look to go elsewhere. At the same time, given the high number of false positives in takedown notices (including those from Viacom), it's only a matter of time until this filtering effort starts blocking perfectly legitimate content. It's also not clear how AT&T determines what is and what is not infringing content. Especially as media companies start to recognize the promotional qualities of otherwise infringing content, this will only get messier.
  • Against net neutrality: While there's a good argument against net neutrality regulations, Dauman's reason for being anti-net neutrality is the false belief that if net neutrality was mandatory it would hamper anti-piracy efforts. This one is just wrong, as it appears Dauman doesn't understand net neutrality at all. And, of course, that doesn't even start to get into all the reasons why the entirety of Viacom's anti-piracy campaign is misguided (parts of which we've discussed above).
  • US pressuring foreign countries to fight copyright battles for Viacom: Funny how Dauman is against gov't intervention when it comes to net neutrality, but when it comes to having the US gov't act as Viacom's personal police in international disputes over copyright law, he's all for it. Copyright is about incentives, not protection, and different countries have learned that there are many ways to create good incentives for content creation, that don't require excessive protection. Dauman's push to have US diplomats force other countries to follow the US model threatens all kinds of interesting new business models over what is, essentially, a private commercial dispute concerning an obsolete business model.
  • The Pirate Bay: Dauman slams The Pirate Bay for making movies available, suggesting again that he's confused about how technology works. The Pirate Bay isn't making the content available, but acting as a search engine for content. It's like blaming Google for all the content on the web.
  • Speaking of Google... Dauman then goes on to defend Viacom's $1 billion lawsuit against Google for infringing content on YouTube. He may be right here that it will be a defining landmark case, but he's still on the wrong side of it for a bunch of reasons we've discussed here repeatedly. Given how many (non-Viacom) companies are recognizing the benefits of having people share their content on YouTube, asking Google to automatically block all shared content is ridiculous. It would harm all of those who are happy to have their content shared, just to protect an obsolete business model.
  • Google's reliance on intellectual property: Finally, Dauman notes that he can't understand Google's position in the YouTube suit, "given Google's own reliance on its software intellectual property." Again, this suggests Dauman doesn't actually understand either technology or intellectual property economics. Google doesn't rely on its intellectual property. Yes, it has many patents -- but that's not the basis of Google's success. The company relies on its ongoing ability to produce useful services that people want to use -- and then has built a business model that supports that (and supports it fantastically well, I might add). Studies have suggested that other sites have better technology than Google, but it's no longer the technology that keeps people coming back to Google -- but the overall experience. The clean interface, the better usability and the simple fact that many people feel that Google is trying to provide them with a useful service, rather than trying to figure out how to limit what they can do. That's not relying on intellectual property -- it's about creating a business model that supports what people want.
And there we go. All that in one speech. Almost all of it very, very wrong. It's hard to craft a forward looking strategy for a rapidly changing market when your boss seems to have nearly all of his assumptions wrong.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous of Course, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 2:18pm

    Normally I have something crabby to say
    but not this time.

    Excellent article, concise, lucid.

     

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    Tired of clowns, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 2:34pm

    I'm tired of these clowns that seem to be running everything and yet fail to grasp the industry they are in.

    I can't wait till the day that we get some people on those places that actually know what's going on. And actually make some sensible decisions, instead of trying to destroy the creative spirit of the Internet.

     

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    Corrupt, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:07pm

    Better search technology than Google

    "Studies have suggested that other sites have better technology than Google..."

    Please tell me what that site is. I'll start using it right away.

     

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    claire rand, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:16pm

    i've nothing against watermarking, if somebody is distributing stuff throw the book at them.

    but DRM so i can't use the 'license' i have to listen to a cd on my ipod.. noooo

    i'm either buying a license to listen in which case the media is not relevent, so i can put it on the ipod, or i'm buying the disc, in which case i'll do as i please

     

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    Could be, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    That

    We are seeing TV go the same way as music distribution. The heads of television networks are seeing themselves slowly (but surely) being phased out by the internet. Granted they have alot of time what with bandwith and compression tech. both not up for the challenge ( yet ). Maybe in the next 20 to 30 years we will be seeing tv take a backseat to the true on-demand internet. If these guy are to survive well into the future they need to figure out how to exist on the internet how they exist on your TV and realize that youtube is the new VHS (shitty quality but it gets the job done if all you want to see who said what to who on whats that show).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Better search technology than Google

    Ask.com

     

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    Matt_, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 3:49pm

    Remember that Philippe Duman was Viacom's General Counsel all he knows is how to use is legal pressure to resolve copyright issues .

     

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    Rich Pearson, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:23pm

    Breaking the impasse?

    Spot on analysis and I support all of your points.

    I'd like to see more discussion on what it will to break the impasse with Viacom and the other large media companies - sadly Mr Dauman is not the only media CEO who thinks this way? All want to be able to program the web.

    Few anticipate a shift in consumer behavior where consumers will embrace anything that prevent them from viewing content whenever and wherever they want; however, waiting for the "revolution" will be bloody for all parties and IMHO unnecessary.

    Can we shift discussion to potential solutions that support the motivations of those who create valuable content as well as those who index and monetize it?

     

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    Anonymous, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:23pm

    Reminds me a bit of . . .

     

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    Anonymous, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Reminds me a bit of . . .

    This article is very well written . . . kudos. In some ways, this reminds me of thoughts I've had of the Sony folks. They just don't seem to get it.

     

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    Sceptical Cynic (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:26pm

    Re: That

    Actually cable already does something like an on demand internet, called On-Demand. The problem is that they keep you sandboxed in to only that content that they have. They have the technology in place to handle some of that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 4:37pm

    "Dauman said his company supports fair use and would love to see its popular characters on "every nook and cranny of the Internet, but only if the 'artists' behind the content are fairly compensated."

    LOL! Fair use only if the artists are compensated? I thought fair use was free...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 5:19pm

    Why shouldn't he consider them criminals? They are criminals. Seems to me that if you can go to jail for something, that would make that criminal behavior, no? If someone displays criminal behavior, I think that would qualify them as being criminals.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:15pm

    It is exceptionally dumb to conclude that a distribution platform can exist without anybody making good content for it.

    If the free content morons really believe that fair use=free use and that YouTube taking stuff for free will put the TV networks out of business, they should get ready for a world without any decent entertainment.

    Always strikes me that people complain about the companies that make exactly the stuff that they want to watch. If you don't like the music, or if you don't like the TV, what the hell do you care about how its sold? If you do like it, don't steal it.

    Not hard.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:39pm

    Re:

    It is exceptionally dumb to conclude that a distribution platform can exist without anybody making good content for it.

    Hmm. Who said that there wasn't good content being made?


    If the free content morons really believe that fair use=free use and that YouTube taking stuff for free will put the TV networks out of business, they should get ready for a world without any decent entertainment.


    Hmm. Who said the TV networks were being put out of business?

    Also, who said that the only decent content came from the TV networks... oh wait, you did. Unfortunately, you're wrong.

    Always strikes me that people complain about the companies that make exactly the stuff that they want to watch. If you don't like the music, or if you don't like the TV, what the hell do you care about how its sold? If you do like it, don't steal it.

    Who said anything about stealing content? We're talking about business models to compete in the modern marketplace.

    It might help if you stopped reading what you want the other side to think and started understanding what they're actually saying. Might help.

     

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    pixelm, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 6:52pm

    Time to Get Real

    Masnick's arguments are the same old rationalization of piracy.

    Start with the position that in addition to home grown content, there is a place for professional. It costs a lot of dough - some movies cost $200 million - and people like to go to the movies. If the professional stuff is stolen, it won't get made. Even if the amateur stuff is stolen, it is a hobby, and not a trade.

    But Mesnick doesn't suggest any alternatives to Dauman's - he just rationalizes piracy. Just a few of his points:

    Dauman doesn't say that low cost distribution increases the cost of distribution, he says it increases the amount of piracy. In fact, he says that if piracy were in check, these tools that empower so many to make low cost content that it would result in an explosion of creativity. Right now, instead, people are complaining that their cool video is up on YouTube and they aren't getting paid.

    As to pissing off customers: no one gets pissed off that they can't take candy out of the store for free and no one thinks that the fact that their house has a lock means they are accusing their neighbors of being theives. Unfortunately, antivirus protection, popup blockers, and DRM are necessary evils to allow safe transactions online.

    I'm completely mystified by the idea that enforcing property rights (internationally or domestically) is the same thing as economic regulation (net neutrality). One is freedom to contract - I'll sell you my car if we can agree on a deal. In contrast, net neutrality is substantive regulation: you must sell the car in this fashion and can only drive it on sundays. In the former, the government's role is limited: if someone takes your car without a deal, the government finds them (you hope) and prosecutes. There is no inconsistency to asking the government to enforce the freedom of individuals to contract and for the government to protect their property, and asking the government not to intervene and set the terms of the deal.

    The Pirate Bay (which sponsors such sites as "oscartorrents.com") is clearly rationalizing copyright infringement, knowingly providing the tools, and overwhelmingly devoted to it. Check out their site and tell me that they are the same thing as email or webhosting.

    Does the author have an alternative way to compensate people for their creations? Or does he just like listening to free songs and watching free movies, and doesn't really care about whether any new ones are made?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:10pm

    Check post #5, Mikey. It ain't all about you.

    I would say that your "Speaking of Google" paragraph doesn't make a lot of sense, tho. I don't know if you've heard of blacklists, or whitelists, or Audible Magic, but you might want to check 'em out. I know you like to be all outraged and stuff, but nobody's asking Google to get rid of all shared content.

    You're not providing a solution, Mikey. The music industry isn't in trouble because people have stopped enjoying music. The music industry is in trouble because they haven't figured out a way to stop people from stealing it. Railing against DRM is not an alternative business model.

    And for the record, do we have permission to take your Corporate Intelligence content, strip out your name, and sell ads against it on another site? Seriously - can we?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 7:58pm

    Re:

    And for the record, do we have permission to take your Corporate Intelligence content, strip out your name, and sell ads against it on another site? Seriously - can we?

    Of course not, that content isn't up online. Thats what they sell. Everything else should be free, except for what they sell.

    Kind of convenient, right?

     

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  19.  
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    Jon, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Breaking the impasse?

    @Rich - well, for starters we'd have to implode/sink/destroy the ridiculous paydays of top stars, agents, directors, etc., AND dump the union rates for many of these people too, or at least allow union talent to work on non-union productions at their discretion.

    We've ratcheted up costs so far in our business that the options for the independent producers to make good content at a reasonable cost is... well, pretty hard to do.

    It leaves you either producing low-budget reality television (read: doesn't require stars of any sort, nor their agents, nor high priced directors), OR no-budget credit card financed movies where everyone works on deferred or no pay (been there done that AND actually have had films in the black this way, but they don't get there for many years post-delivery, which isn't a way to actually make a living), or you make high-priced, old-model Network and Studio content (been there, done that, and the worst part is, it's easier to make a no-money or low-budget feature or tv show with you and a few other folks than the 18 committee idiots at the networks or studios who are now part of the project because their financing it).

    OK - enough kevetching.

    #1 - ALL unions should immediately allow their members to work for non-union productions and producers at their discretion, period.

    #2 - Theaters & multiplexes, go all fiber or satellite or even portable hard drive delivery. Theater chains set up an interactive scheduling backend that allow theater-goers in any town to dictate what they want to see on any given screen at any given time (with carveouts for wide releases). As soon as there are 40 folks who have signed up to see a digital print of Lawrence of Arabia, the screening is scheduled. This can serve the same for the indie content creator too. They can sign up for the service and drum up their own local viewers. Once the required audience size is hit, the screening is scheduled.

    I think those two things can go a long way towards breaking the studio and network stranglehold on who gets to produce and distribute content.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Time to Get Real

    Masnick's arguments are the same old rationalization of piracy.

    Actually, no they're not. As we've pointed out time and time again, we do not rationalize unauthorized use of content. Our position is from the side of the content producers (such as Dauman). In this specific case, many of his competitors are learning how to treat their customers right... meaning that Viacom is going to be in a world of trouble if they don't learn to adapt.

    Start with the position that in addition to home grown content, there is a place for professional. It costs a lot of dough - some movies cost $200 million - and people like to go to the movies. If the professional stuff is stolen, it won't get made. Even if the amateur stuff is stolen, it is a hobby, and not a trade.


    Ah, the old "it costs $200 million to make a movie" argument. This is an argument that's been disproved many times over, but if you need us to do it once again, no problem. I'll even do it for free, saving you our consulting rates. Justifying pissing off your users just so you can make a more expensive movie doesn't lead to better products. It leads to more expensive movies. If anyone wanted to, they could make a $1 billion movie. That doesn't justify some sort of artificial monopoly protection to fund such a movie.

    It's funny that in the rest of the world, content production keeps getting cheaper... yet in the movie business, it only gets more expensive. Wonder why that is?

    However, the really funny part of your statement is that you already have the answer to your problem: "people like to go to the movies." You said it, not I. People *do* like to *go* to the movies. Going to the movies is a social experience. It's about going out. It's about being with friends. It's about getting popcorn and sitting in a big theater with a good sound system. People like going out to the movies and that DOES NOT CHANGE if the movie is pirated. Some of the most downloaded movies (remember Star Wars?) still broke tremendous records in attendance. Why? Because, as you said, people LIKE to GO OUT to the movies.

    So, make the movie going experience better, and the piracy issue doesn't even matter. People will still want to go out to the movies.

    You know what, I can cook really cheap food at home, but I still go out to restaurants sometimes, because I like to go out. Based on your argument, restaurants should all be out of business.

    Finally, your argument "if the professional stuff is stolen, it won't get made" is wrong in so many ways, it's hard to know where to start. First of all, learn the difference between theft and copyright infringement. It'll make you sound like you actually understand what's going on.

    Second, the professional stuff is infringed all the time... and guess what? The professional stuff is still getting made. Why? Because there are still tons of ways to make money off of it, even if it's getting pirated.

    You, as the industry trolls so often do, seem to think that without copyright protection you can't make money. That's absolutely false. It's false now and it's always been false. There's plenty of historical evidence showing that content production occurs just fine without copyright protection. So to claim that it would kill the professional content creation business is 100% provably false.

    Why would you make that statement when it's so easy to prove you wrong?

    But Mesnick doesn't suggest any alternatives to Dauman's - he just rationalizes piracy.

    I've spent ten years suggesting alternatives. You might try to look around the site a little. It'll help you not look like an idiot when posting comments. Despite the fact I link to a few of these in the post, I'll make it more explicit for you:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/200 70125/004949.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20030912/1032238.shtml

    And, of course, there's plenty more from where that came from. But, I guess, when your argument is so ridiculous, the best you can do is lie.

    Secondly, as I've already pointed out, in great detail, nothing I've said is about rationalizing piracy. I really don't understand why people insist on repeating this. I pointed out that Dauman's competitors aren't following his path and why his path is likely to cause trouble as his competitors do more to make people happy. Why you would think that advice to content owners, from their own perspective, is rationalizing how content is used, is beyond me. It strikes of cognitive dissonance. You don't want to hear what I have to say, so you pretend I said something else.

    As to pissing off customers: no one gets pissed off that they can't take candy out of the store for free

    They do when the store next door gives away candy for free and makes money on a better business model. That's the key point. Others are figuring out these business models, and resisting them when everyone else gets them is a self-imposed death sentence.

    no one thinks that the fact that their house has a lock means they are accusing their neighbors of being theives.

    They do when no one else in the town has locks.

    I'm completely mystified by the idea that enforcing property rights (internationally or domestically) is the same thing as economic regulation (net neutrality).

    That's because you're under the mistaken belief that copyright is a property right. It's not. It's an economic regulation to put in place incentives to create.

    The Pirate Bay (which sponsors such sites as "oscartorrents.com") is clearly rationalizing copyright infringement,

    Indeed. They are rationalizing it. I don't deny that at all. However, they are not committing infringement themselves. Providing the tools is not the same thing. They're also providing tools for perfectly legitimate distribution of content. In fact, some bands purposely put their content on the Pirate Bay.

    Does the author have an alternative way to compensate people for their creations?

    Indeed, I do. And I've been pointing it out on this site for a decade.

    Or does he just like listening to free songs and watching free movies, and doesn't really care about whether any new ones are made?

    Actually, I do not, have not and will not download unauthorized content. If a producer of the content is too thick skulled to recognize the advantages of allowing it, then I'm not going to take part in it. So to accuse me of doing so is ignorant and wrong.

    And, I actually care quite a lot over whether or not new content is made. What I'm doing is helping to promote the business models that will allow for MUCH MORE content to be made... and that's playing itself out these days. Despite the ongoing increase in unauthorized use, the amount of content that is being created today only continues to increase. So your claims that it will stop aren't just wrong, they're laughably ignorant.

    Want to try again?

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:27pm

    Re:

    I would say that your "Speaking of Google" paragraph doesn't make a lot of sense, tho. I don't know if you've heard of blacklists, or whitelists, or Audible Magic, but you might want to check 'em out.

    I've heard about them and written about them (there's a search box on the site, or you can use Google and find them). However, you're incorrect. Viacom is actually asking Google to automatically block all unauthorized content.

    In the meantime, if you actually believe that whitelists, blacklists or even the "magic bullet" of Audible Magic works, I've got a nice bridge to sell you...

    And for the record, do we have permission to take your Corporate Intelligence content, strip out your name, and sell ads against it on another site? Seriously - can we?

    This is my favorite argument. I love it when people bring it up, because again it shows their inability to actually read what we've said. Again, do a search. I've answered this question a ton of times.

    The corporate intelligence offering is a service. We are paid to *create* the content. Then, the company that gets it can do whatever they want with it. We do not own it. We do not resell it. If that company wants to take the content, strip out our names and sell ads on it on another site, they're more than willing to. In fact, we have had clients who have done exactly that, and it was great. They paid us a lot of money to create the content and then they used it as they saw fit.

    Note, again, that the key here is that the *creation* of content is a business model that makes sense, because before the content is created, it's scarce. So it makes sense for companies to pay for us to create the content -- and they're only going to do so if they have a way to monetize it. For some companies, that's putting it somewhere and monetizing it with ads. For other companies that's using the insight in it to make smart decisions and turbocharge their business.

    Whatever they do with it, we don't care -- so long as they pay us to create it.

    So, yup, go ahead and take the content you pay us to create and do what you want with it.

    We DO NOT sell content. We sell *access* to experts and our ability to *create* content. It's an important distinction.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Of course not, that content isn't up online. Thats what they sell. Everything else should be free, except for what they sell.

    Again, we don't sell content. We sell *access* to experts, and their ability to *create* content. It's an important distinction.

    Because of that, we DO NOT care what is done with the content after it's created, but we leave that decision up to whoever paid us to create the content.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re:

    But, Mikey, why do you apply restricted access to your Corporate Intelligence content? Isn't that just a short-sighted way to ensure that you don't get promotion for the other parts of your business?

    And where do you get off deciding how we consume your content? If your security is hackable, doesn't that suggest that it's silly to try to restrict access at all?

    Your notion is that content should be distributed without restriction in order to promote a business. Now that you've agreed that all of us can redistribute your stuff at will, why not unlock the reports you're providing. We can hardly exercise our "fair use" if you don't even permit us access to them.

    Why do you deserve to get paid for the stuff that poops out of your brains, but the guys who write The Office don't? Why do you think that the fruit of your labor worth the price, but stuff that's more popular or useful isn't?

    And, seriously dude - when you say that Viacom is asking Google to remove "all shared content" and "all unauthorized content" - and think those two things are the same. . . well, you've got a complete misunderstanding of what those words mean.

    People really pay for this advice?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Mikey - when people pirate a TV show, they are illegally interrupting the economic model whereby they get paid for their content by advertisers.

    If your economic model was interrupted in the same way, I hardly think you'd be so supportive of any group who tried to prevent you from repairing that model.

    If someone stole your customers' payments out of your (virtual or real) mailbox, you'd hardly say "well, looks like we have to change our business model! People can steal!"

    No, you'd call the cops and put the best lock you could find on that mailbox.

    Every economic model is disrupt-able if you don't care about the property rights of the business owner.

     

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    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 9:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I like how you ignore all the other points I made showing where you were wrong, to then focus in our business model. What's wrong? Can't defend yourself?

    But, Mikey, why do you apply restricted access to your Corporate Intelligence content? Isn't that just a short-sighted way to ensure that you don't get promotion for the other parts of your business? And where do you get off deciding how we consume your content? If your security is hackable, doesn't that suggest that it's silly to try to restrict access at all?

    I'm not sure how many times I need to repeat myself -- but I get the feeling you're just trolling anyway. It's not our content. We are not selling content. We create insight and analysis for others, and they are free to do what they want with it. Our criticism is not that companies shouldn't make money or charge for creating content, but to recognize the competitive landscape and the market trends they face -- and react accordingly.

    In our case, we have created a business model where no one is paying for content -- but they're paying for the creation of content. So, again, it is not our decision what's done with that content.

    Also, as I noted, the important thing is understanding the competitive landscape. The reason people pay us to create analysis for them is because they cannot get similar analysis elsewhere. In other words, there isn't the same competitive threat.

    Your notion is that content should be distributed without restriction in order to promote a business.

    No. Once again you misunderstand what I have written. I don't know if you are doing this on purpose or really have a reading comprehension problem. I have never said that all content should be distributed without restriction to promote a business. I've simply said that in a competitive market, you have to understand where the business models will be driven. For mass market content, such as music, it's going to be priced at zero.

    Now that you've agreed that all of us can redistribute your stuff at will, why not unlock the reports you're providing.

    Again, I never said that. I said that it's up to those who paid for the content to be created.

    Why do you deserve to get paid for the stuff that poops out of your brains, but the guys who write The Office don't?

    Again, I never said or implied that the guys who write the Office shouldn't be paid. In fact, I very clearly said that the creation of content is a great business model. The guys who create the Office do get paid.

    Why do people like yourself continue to insist that when we say you shouldn't rely on copyright, we mean that you shouldn't get paid? I mean exactly the opposite. If they learn to embrace new business models, they can get paid *more*.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 2nd, 2007 @ 10:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mikey - when people pirate a TV show, they are illegally interrupting the economic model whereby they get paid for their content by advertisers.

    There is no law against "interrupting an economic model." If so, pretty much everyone would be breaking it. If you open up a sandwich shop next to a pizza shop, you are interrupting their economic model.

    Back here in the real world, we call it competition.

    If your economic model was interrupted in the same way, I hardly think you'd be so supportive of any group who tried to prevent you from repairing that model.

    That's why we create a business model that's difficult to interrupt. That's the point here. If you create a business model that's easily disrupted then you don't deserve to be in business.

    According to your logic, the horse-drawn carriage makers should have been able to prevent Ford from making cars. After all, he was interrupting their business model. Back in the real world, we call that competition and innovation.

    If someone comes along and "interrupts" our business model, it would push us to innovate and come up with a better business model.

    If someone stole your customers' payments out of your (virtual or real) mailbox, you'd hardly say "well, looks like we have to change our business model! People can steal!"

    Yes, but if every other business learned how to take that situation and build more business out of it, wouldn't you look like a fool for going the other direction?

    Every economic model is disrupt-able if you don't care about the property rights of the business owner.

    But if that disruption leads to better business models... what's the problem?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 4:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, Mikey, you still don't get the obvious. Nobody is arguing against the sandwich shop - they're arguing against stealing the pizza. You must be about the only person to not understand that piracy is illegal.

    Without the ability to maintain property rights, *any* business model is doomed to fail. You're not being honest when you disagree. You have an expectation that your property rights will be preserved, and if they were violated, you'd call for enforcement. If your bank account was emptied, or your company name was used by others without permission, or if your server was stolen, you'd call the cops, because you know there are laws preventing that stuff. If there weren't, you wouldn't get into business. And *even though* there are laws, you still lock the doors at night, trademark your name, and have a pin for your corporate bank account.

    For some reason you don't think copyright exists as real law. It, in fact, does. When property is stolen, and your response is "well, just change your business and unlock the door" - it exposes how narrow and naive your view truly is. Your business model is *highly* interruptible if people are allowed to break the law without consequence.

    Your notion is that this disruption creates better business models? How much money have Bittorrent and YouTube made, combined? Far less than what the legal content owners would have. What is the "far better business model" that results from this piracy?

    And we're still waiting on that Google shared=unauthorized explanation . . . .

    Gawd, Mikey - this is basic Business 101 stuff that you're not grasping.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mikey - I want to be very, very clear, because this is an important point, and I like to engage in a long-term experiment with you.

    Are you agreeing to waive any enforcement rights you might have for Techdirt intellectual property? Logo, trade dress, business product, site content, all that stuff?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 6:10am

    "Nobody is arguing against the sandwich shop - they're arguing against stealing the pizza."

    Sandwich shops sell pizza?

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 6:48am

    Re: That Anonymous Coward

    You have got to be one the biggest smacktard trolls I have ever seen visit this site (or any other).
    Please leave.
    You obviously have ZERO comprehension about what Mike is saying.
    Please read his replies.
    If you do not understand, please re-read it before replying.
    Since you will never understand, just re-read it over and over again, and never reply. You will be doing us a favor.
    Your blatant disregard for an understanding of Techdirt's business model, as well as Mike's statements about other's, makes you appear irreversibly ignorant.
    Just. Please. Stop.

    Oh, and RandomThoughts, I love the reply, lol, nice.


    Heyyyy Mike, can you please give me that AC's IP address? I want to trace it and find out who it is. I will bet it is Dauman or somebody from his building / paid off by his people.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thats a pretty ignorant statement, hmm let me see how would I compete with people pirating tv shows when my model depends on the commericals. I would put the shows up online for free download with the commericals in them. making it easier for people to find the content defeating the pirates purpose in the first place.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    YouKnowNothing, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    Some do.

    But they both sell *food*.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 10:25am

    "But they both sell *food*."

    But why would you try to steal a pizza from a sandwich shop? Why not steal sandwichs? I would think if you were in the practice of stealing pizzas, you would target pizza shops. But maybe thats just me.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A troll or shill wrote;

    "For some reason you don't think copyright exists as real law. It, in fact, does. When property is stolen, and your response is "well, just change your business and unlock the door" -"

    In real law The Courts have clearly stated that copyright
    violation is not theft.

    I find your obtuseness amusing. If you're not trolling,
    or a recording industry shill, you should win a prize for
    being TechDirt's densest element.

    If there is no such prize Mike should create one. And
    give himself a prize too for possessing the patience of
    Jobe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    andy, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:00am

    Re: Time to Get Real

    you're a dong... you assume that all property rights are the same... you're equating candy and cars (tangible, scarce goods... you economics-education-have-not) and songs (an intangible idea with no scarcity) and saying they're the same.

    so it's equally bad when somebody steals the clever "yo' mama" joke i told as it is when they steal a candy bar from a store? there's no difference in those "goods?"

    it's clear from your analogies that you are unaware of what has been previously written on this site in regards to technology and economics of abundance (not scarcity). read an effing textbook... or any other article on this site.

    i find your lack of education disturbing.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    andy, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    anybody else think it's weird that this dude still insists on using "anonymous coward" even though he could shroud himself under any other moniker?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    SailorRipley, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Breaking the impasse?

    I see a big practical problem with #2: good luck trying to schedule a screening that accommodates everyone who signed up for it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    andy, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:38am

    how is this not clear...

    "And *even though* there are laws, you still lock the doors at night, trademark your name, and have a pin for your corporate bank account."

    trademark = an identifiable way people know they get the product they're looking for; a service provided by the government to protect consumers from companies claiming to be something important — like aspirin — when really, they're something else important — like arsenic. in accounting terms, this is an intangible asset... an idea.

    copyright, patent = an incentive/temporary monopoly created by the government to ostensibly stimulate innovation... ostensibly. also an intangible asset.

    techdirt uses a trademark because it wants you to know that the origin/aim of its content is true (as does elvis costello). i could set up a site at "anonymouscowardtryingtomakeapoint.com" and post all the content on there and not give techdirt credit... kind of a dick move, but fine. HOWEVER, i could not post my own crap up there and cite it as techdirt-trademarked content... that's why the trademark is important... it prevents you from posting content like, "sex with children is awesome... sincerely, the crew at techdirt." it verifies the origin of a statement.

    i don't know where you got the idea that there was any arguments about trademark... i think that's called a "straw man"(c).

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    bshock, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:49am

    I couldn't be more pleased

    As the story surrounding Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS has suggested, Viacom probably encouraged the suppression of news and contributed to the re-election of Traitor Bush because it was good for business. These short-sighted idiots can't put themselves out of business fast enough to suit me.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    YouKnowNothing, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 11:59am

    Re:

    When I'm REALLY hungry, I don't care if it's a sandwich or a pizza. I just want some food.

    Although I don't think I'd steal from a place called "Iggy's House of Gefiltefish" or "Corn and Mayonnaise World."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, Mikey, you still don't get the obvious. Nobody is arguing against the sandwich shop - they're arguing against stealing the pizza. You must be about the only person to not understand that piracy is illegal.

    I'd argue that you are the one having trouble understanding, but I'll take the blame for not explaining it carefully enough.

    You very clearly said that it was illegal to disrupt a business model. I was simply pointing out why that is not true.

    Your response suggests that you meant to say "it's illegal to break the law" which is something of a tautology, don't you think?

    Either way, it's entirely besides the point. If every one of your competitors has learned to make their customers much happier by letting them do something "illegal" sooner or later, you're going to have to realize that you need to do it too.

    Without the ability to maintain property rights, *any* business model is doomed to fail.

    Two provably wrong statements in one single sentence. Very impressive.

    First off, you are confusing copyright with a property right. I'm all for property rights, but copyright is not a property right, but an incentive for creation. It's an important difference.

    Much more importantly, though, is the bizarrely laughable claim that any business is doomed to failure without the ability to maintain copyrights. That's provably false and has been been proven false time and time and time again. In fact, others (beside Viacom) are proving it false again... which is the exact point of this post. If they all prove it false and Viacom continues to insist on a customer-unfriendly system, they're going to lose business.

    When property is stolen, and your response is "well, just change your business and unlock the door"

    Again, you're confusing tangible property rights with an incentive to create. I believe that's the root of your misunderstanding.

    How much money have Bittorrent and YouTube made, combined? Far less than what the legal content owners would have. What is the "far better business model" that results from this piracy?

    You are miscounting where the money is made. BitTorrent and YouTube have made some money... but many of the independent artists who use those services have made some money where before they would have made none. Then, there have been additional services that are only possible because of those two services. Think of how many websites have attracted more traffic thanks to the ability to embed videos.

    The point is that the business model changes, but the ability to make money tends to increase.

    Either way, I find it highly amusing that you seem unable to address the basic point:

    If every other entertainment company learns to create business models that don't require DRM and pissing off users, how does Viacom survive while continuing to insist on a worse customer experience?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:


    Are you agreeing to waive any enforcement rights you might have for Techdirt intellectual property? Logo, trade dress, business product, site content, all that stuff?


    Never said such a thing at all, but it does show how you seem to keep thinking I've said something I haven't.

    So I will be "very, very clear" in my answer, since you seem to want it that way.

    You have falsely lumped things like logo and trade dress into copyright. I have explained repeatedly before the difference between these things. Your inability to understand that is not my problem.

    Copyright (and patents) are incentives to create.

    Trademarks are consumer protection, to avoid a consumer being "fooled" into believing that one product was made by someone else. I have no problem with trademark law being used that way -- and if someone is actually misusing our trademarks in that way, then it's perfectly reasonable to take legal action. That's not using the law to protect a business model -- it's using the law to protect consumers from being fooled.

    As for our "product," our business again is not about selling content, but about selling our ability to create content. I'm not sure how you can replicate that without our reputation and network, but if you want to compete with us and help us educate and grow the market, that's great.

    As for using our content, PLEASE go right ahead. I have discussed this before at length, but since you seem unable to use a search engine, I'll repost it here for you:
    ---

    We have no problem with people taking our content and reposting it. It's funny how many people come here, like yourself, and assume you've found some "gotcha." You haven't. There already are about 10 sites that copy Techdirt, post for post. Some of them give us credit. Some of them don't. We don't go after any of them.

    Here's why:

    1. None of those sites get any traffic. By itself, they offer nothing special.

    2. If anything, it doesn't take people long to read those sites and figure out that the content is really from Techdirt. Then they just come here to the original source. So, it tends to help drive more traffic to us. That's cool.

    3. As soon as the people realize the other sites are simply copying us, it makes those sites look really, really bad. If you want to risk your reputation like that, go ahead, but it's a big risk.

    4. A big part of the value of Techdirt is the community here. You can't just replicate that.

    5. Another big part of the value of Techdirt is that we, the writers, engage in the comments. You absolutely cannot fake that on your own site.

    So, really, what's the purpose of copying our content, other than maybe driving a little traffic our way?

    So, if you really want to, I'd suggest it's pretty dumb, but go ahead.
    ---

    I don't know what your "long term experiment" is, but if it involves reposting our content somewhere else, you're pretty late to the game. There are a bunch of sites that already do so, and it does two things: makes the sites that do so look scammy while tending to help bring us more readers. More readers are an important part of our business model, so I'd appreciate the help.

    The point is pretty straight forward no matter how many times you deny it.

     

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  43.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Wow

    Mike's maturity level: A well seasoned adult beyond most I know.

    That Anonymous Coward's comprehension level: That of an 8 year old.

    Mike, I am surprised you even responded to him again.
    Your points were pretty dang clear and it was obvious that he just doesn't understand.

    Comment though:
    You and (s)he said BitTorrent in referring to money made. You guys must be referring to the original client and/or the guy who created the protocol type style of communication, right? Or are you guys just lumping together all the sites that support (like isoHunt & Pirate Bay) and clients (like uTorrent & Azureus) that help with Torrent class downloads?
    Only reason I am a little confused here is because you both mention it right alongside YouTube which is one site owned by a single company that is Google.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    "If every other entertainment company learns to create business models that don't require DRM and pissing off users, how does Viacom survive while continuing to insist on a worse customer experience?"

    By having the best content available, thats how. I am not saying that they do have the best content, but if they do, they will survive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Re:

    By having the best content available, thats how. I am not saying that they do have the best content, but if they do, they will survive.

    I'm sure the best buggy whip maker in the world thought the same thing as everyone beat a path to Ford's doors... :)

    When your business model is predicated on a worse consumer experience than everyone else's (by a long way) then you're going to have trouble attracting customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 3rd, 2007 @ 1:08pm

    I agree, bad customer experience isn't what should be the objective, but the best content with a bad experience will defeat content that isn't all that great with a perfect experience.

    A great example is Lugars Steakhouse. They don't take credit cards. You know what a pain that is for the customer? The service there pretty much sucks. They are in Brooklyn. Still known as the best steak house in NYC.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    mg, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 1:15am

    Just interested...

    So if Dauman is "wrong", how do you feel about Zucker (see reports of his speech yesterday)? By all accounts NBC is trying a host of different solutions and models to guarantee a market in the future. But right now all of the downloads, on demand, over mobile, free etc will not allow them to sustain the business to keep creating programming. Whether the readers here think broadcast programming is good or not, there are still plenty of people that turn on their tvs each night to watch NBC.

    At the same time, Zucker strongly advocates the use of technology such as DRM to be used to protect the existing market that it depends on now to generate ongoing revenues?

    Isn't that what the industry should be doing? Innovating and also continuing to deliver and sustain its business?

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    pixelm, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Time to Get Real

    Ok – forgive me for not understanding that your defense of piracy is more fully evolved than I knew. I’m new to your column, although not to the topic.  The first link cites to Thomas Jefferson who said that ideas become free as soon as made public. He’s right – it is the expression of an idea that is covered by copyright. In fact, because it is a fundamental value of this country that ideas be expressed and debated, an economic incentive to express them was created. This is how copyright is different from patent (by the way, Lessig deliberately, and misleadingly, combines the two into “intellectual property”). Writers (like you) choose to write so everyone will know their opinions. Some writers choose to make their works free so they can sell the experience, others (like lessig) sell their books. Both models have a place (like in software), but book writers don’t insist that you put your works into the public domain.  Movies are expensive because talent is expensive and because there is a market for viewing the latest and greatest. Technology HAS made movie-making cheaper – bringing, for example, the latest computer animation within the means of a movie-maker. Sure, you could now do Goldfinger for less, but audiences turn out to see Transformers. Maybe you think that’s dumb, but if consumers want it, shouldn’t they be allowed to see it?  Traditional scarcity exists in the rarity of a steven spielberg or jj Abrams and so many others and the scarcity of the capital to hire them. What if some people want to see movies in theaters, others on TV – shouldn’t the market support both, without ONLY permitting the model of giving it away? There is a role for giving it away, but you would compel it. If, absent piracy, these markets go away – good riddance. But if piracy is forcing the change, then consumers and producers both lose.  Finally, the “movie business” is doing just fine argument. We used to hear that about the record business. Then when the record business began its steep decline, the argument changed to “they’re all terrible people and abuse the artists” so it’s ok that they are hurt. The reality is that the record business used to spend a lot of money nurturing and developing talent, promoting artists and taking risks. They don’t now. As bandwidth and storage follow the inexorable path of Moore’s law, movies may not be far behind. If we want to see risk-taking and investment in movies and tv, producers must be free to choose free when it works and choose licenses when it works, and not have the path chosen for them. Put differently, parasites do well when the host is healthy, but if they aren’t checked, the host dies and the parasites with them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Oct 4th, 2007 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Time to Get Real

    Ok – forgive me for not understanding that your defense of piracy is more fully evolved than I knew. I’m new to your column, although not to the topic.

    Sure, no problem... though I would suggest that in the future, before accusing people of something, you take the time to make sure you actually understand their position. It's harder to take you seriously when you say stuff about us that clearly is untrue.

    The first link cites to Thomas Jefferson who said that ideas become free as soon as made public. He’s right – it is the expression of an idea that is covered by copyright. In fact, because it is a fundamental value of this country that ideas be expressed and debated, an economic incentive to express them was created.

    Yes. But it's a tradeoff that Jefferson (and Madison) clearly recognized and worried about. If you can recognize that the incentive is not necessary, then you no longer need that tradeoff.

    Writers (like you) choose to write so everyone will know their opinions. Some writers choose to make their works free so they can sell the experience, others (like lessig) sell their books. Both models have a place (like in software), but book writers don’t insist that you put your works into the public domain.

    Again, we've never insisted that others put their works in the public domain. We've just suggested two things: (1) if they understand the economics, they can make more money by doing so and (2) if they don't do it and their competitors do recognize that model, then they'll be in trouble.

    Movies are expensive because talent is expensive and because there is a market for viewing the latest and greatest. Technology HAS made movie-making cheaper – bringing, for example, the latest computer animation within the means of a movie-maker. Sure, you could now do Goldfinger for less, but audiences turn out to see Transformers. Maybe you think that’s dumb, but if consumers want it, shouldn’t they be allowed to see it?

    Who said they're not allowed to see it? I said the exact opposite. There are tons of examples where the movie industry can make lots of money without relying on copyright.

    Traditional scarcity exists in the rarity of a steven spielberg or jj Abrams and so many others and the scarcity of the capital to hire them.

    EXACTLY my point. There is scarcity in every industry, you just need to make sure you're charging for the scarcity, not the abundance.

    What if some people want to see movies in theaters, others on TV – shouldn’t the market support both, without ONLY permitting the model of giving it away?

    There's nothing wrong with the market supporting both, but it does need to be *the market* supporting them both -- not artificial gov't subsidies in the form of protectionist policies. Saying that we have to support a specific model is like saying we have to support the buggy whip makers once the automobile comes along.

    There is a role for giving it away, but you would compel it. If, absent piracy, these markets go away – good riddance.

    I'm not compelling giving it away. I'm saying two things (I repeat). (1) If you understand the economics, you can make more giving it away and (2) if you don't and all your competitors do give it away, you'll be in a lot of trouble.

    Finally, the “movie business” is doing just fine argument. We used to hear that about the record business

    I'm not saying the movie industry is doing fine... I'm saying they *SHOULD* be doing much better if they actually recognized why people watch movies.

    Then when the record business began its steep decline, the argument changed to “they’re all terrible people and abuse the artists” so it’s ok that they are hurt.

    I have never made that argument, so I'm afraid I can't respond to it. I don't think that argument is true, and I'd ask that you not imply I ever said any such thing.

    The reality is that the record business used to spend a lot of money nurturing and developing talent, promoting artists and taking risks. They don’t now.

    That's not because of piracy. That's because they don't understand the market changes they're facing.

    As bandwidth and storage follow the inexorable path of Moore’s law, movies may not be far behind. If we want to see risk-taking and investment in movies and tv, producers must be free to choose free when it works and choose licenses when it works, and not have the path chosen for them.

    I'm afraid that's not how the market works. The buggy whip makers didn't choose for automobiles to enter the market.

    Put differently, parasites do well when the host is healthy, but if they aren’t checked, the host dies and the parasites with them.

    You are falsely assuming that we're discussing parasites, rather than symbiotic relationships. If you understand the economics and respond accordingly, it need not be a parasitic relationship at all. It's only parasitic if you don't understand the economics.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Oct 10th, 2009 @ 12:50am

    I know this is close to 3 years after you posted, but I just have to say how impressed I am with your reasoning. You really knocked it out of the park.

    I only wish more people like you were running our Government lol. People who actually think.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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