Viacom Agrees With NBC Universal: Our Business Model Problems Need To Be Fixed By Everyone Else

from the *sigh* dept

For the last year or so, NBC Universal has been on quite the rampage, basically telling a bunch of other companies that it was their responsibility to help prop up NBC Universal's obsolete business model. It appears that Viacom's Sumner Redstone can sing that song too. In a speech in South Korea, he said that "ISPs, device manufacturers, hosting companies, and site operators" all need to be protecting his content. Yes. Either that or maybe you should just find a new business model, and stop whining about how everyone else needs to protect yours. It really is rather ridiculous to see these huge entertainment conglomerates demanding that other businesses act to protect their business models, just as more and more companies are figuring out how to embrace (not fight) the changing market.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    Scorpiaux, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    Same ol' misleading comments

    If you saw a criminal in a mall snatch a purse, pick someone's pocket, or shop lift, would you take the position "Hey! The victim should not rely on the community to help prevent or apprehend the criminal. He or she or it should stop carrying a purse, or keeping valuables in his/her pocket, or displaying merchandise where it can be shoplifted in a store. Just adopt a new mode of behavior in the mall or even better, stay at home and shop exclusively on the Internet. Forget 'community'. A high-tech bunker mentality (or 'new business model') is needed for the current marketplace."

    And so it is with intellectual property in the opinion of the cognoscenti here at Techdirt. Don't depend on the law being enforced any more. High-tech thievery isn't really theft anyway, especially if it is couched as a new "business model".

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:25am

      Re: Same ol' misleading comments

      The difference is that by stopping thieft the whole community is benefitted. This is not the case with the markets, however; if everyone listened to the Content companies then they would be making their own products less useful in order to maintain the usefulness of someone else's product -- when it can be shown that everyone's products can remain useful if the content companies finsd an adaptive model instead of crying about how unfair all this change is.

       

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      Rick, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:30am

      Re: Same ol' misleading comments

      It sounds like you're saying that mall owners should be held accountable because they provided a place for criminals to go in order to steal things.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re: Same ol' misleading comments

        Bad analogy. Malls provide rent-a-cops. We don't want ISPs to have the equivalent.

         

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          SomeGuy, May 8th, 2008 @ 8:57am

          Re: Re: Re: Same ol' misleading comments

          Actually, I think it's more like asking malls to make sure none of their stores are selling crummy or counterfeit merchandise, which rent-a-cops *don't* do. That's a job for law enforcement. Same thing with ISPs et al -- have the real law enforcment track down the real criminals, rather than making someone else do thugwork for you.

           

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            JS Beckerist (profile), May 8th, 2008 @ 9:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Same ol' misleading comments

            Better analogy: requiring Delta Airlines to check the validity of every piece of clothing of anyone who flies in their planes. If they can't prove their shoes were legally acquired, Delta then arrests them (or find someone who will.)

             

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            snowburn14, May 8th, 2008 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Same ol' misleading comments

            However, the "real law enforcement" would hold accountable the stores selling - or otherwise making available - counterfeit goods, wouldn't they? You can say they're clinging to an old business model all you like, and you'll be right. But that doesn't mean they don't still have a point.
            I'm as sick of overpriced movies, music, etc. as much as the next guy, and I've downloaded my share of content from less than legitimate sources. That they need to adapt to the current environment if they want to survive should go without saying. But please stop with the flawed analogies comparing the content to foobars, etc., asking if someone selling it for less is stealing from another vendor. Both stores paid for the right to resell them, which doesn't apply when services make other people's content available for download.
            A better analogy would be if I decided I was going to start making my own M&M's without permission from Mars, with packaging as close to identical as I could get it. Then I'd sell it to CVS, etc., and they could resell it, or even give it away with every purchase to boost their overall sales. Are you honestly going to tell me Mars should then adopt a new business model and allow both myself and CVS to continue?
            But then, you probably would, because you want free candy just like the rest of us.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 11:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Same ol' misleading comments

              A better analogy would be if I decided I was going to start making my own M&M's without permission from Mars, with packaging as close to identical as I could get it. Then I'd sell it to CVS, etc., and they could resell it, or even give it away with every purchase to boost their overall sales. Are you honestly going to tell me Mars should then adopt a new business model and allow both myself and CVS to continue?
              That is not a good analogy at all. NBC is already being paid for this content. It's paid for by advertisers and broadcast for free. So according to your analogy, you would buy the M&M's and would be redistributed to others through yourself for free. Mars loses nothing just as NBC loses nothing.

               

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              SomeGuy, May 8th, 2008 @ 11:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Same ol' misleading comments

              Your M&Ms don't self-replicate. If you're making them and giving them away, you'll go out of business. I'm not sure how this applies to anything.

              Plus, if you try to pretend that you're M&Ms, you're violating trademark which is different from copyright because it protects the consumer, not the seller.

              Also, it's a flawed analogy because no one out there claims to be the bands themselves; they're just sharing the music.

              Finally you didn't address to "is is stealing" question. How does "buying the right to resell" have anything to do with this. I don't have the right to resell things I bought? Isn't that what the right of first sale is all about?

              I'm not looking for free candy. I'm not looking for free music. I am looking to be allowed to do what I want with the things I've purchaced. It's mostly coincidence that this tends to undermine the control of content that these big labels rely on to make money.

               

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      Skippy T. Mut, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:54am

      Re: Same ol' misleading comments

      So let me get this straight...you're saying that everyone else should be responsible for stopping "theft" of content on the internet? That's the same as saying the purse manufacturer in your analogy should be responsible for replacing the items lost when the purse was stolen because the manufacturer didn't take the neccesary steps to make sure its purses couldn't be stolen...next time pull your head out of your ass before you spew this type of non-sense out into the world. A less intelligent person might agree with you, and we don't need more stupidity in this world...that's what got us here in the first place.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    Comparing infringement to theft invalidates your entire comment. Of course, you knew that already.

     

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      SomeGuy, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:31am

      Re:

      Scorpiaux should know better, being around here for a while now, but they still figure that getting something for free when it's been sold elsewhere is stealing. You're obligated to buy if from the seller, by virtue of the fact that they're selling it.

      It makers me wonder: if Target sells FooBar for $1.00 and WalMart sells FooBar for $0.50, is WalMart stealing from Target? And I stealing from target if I buy from walMart? Does it change if WalMart is giving them away for free?

      What if FooBar were made of a gooey substance that could reconstitute itself, such that if you broke it in half each half would 'regrow' into a new FooBar bar. If I buy a FooBar, and then start breaking off pieces and giving away all the regrown pieces to everyone I know, am I stealing?

       

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        Alimas, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:52am

        Re: Re:

        Good analogy.

         

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        Hypocrites are everywhere, May 8th, 2008 @ 8:46am

        FuBar

        That's funny, because I recently bought a Stanley "Fubar II" from Home Depot for $30, then saw that Target had them on clearance for $15. So I returned the first one to HD and when I went back to Target the price had dropped to $8. I bought two.

        Is Target stealing from HD when they sell a product for about a quarter of the HD price? People will obtain fubars or episodes of Lost from the source that meets their need for price and convenience (and ethics), right now NBC is doing a poor job on both fronts.

         

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    Kevin, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:36am

    BZZT!

    Nice try Scorpiaux, but copyright infringement isn't theft.

    More to the point, the comparison between having someone steal tangible property from a private citizen bears no resemblance to the fact that the marketplace for TV entertainment is shifting from television-based and commercial subsidized to digitally distributed online content.

    NBC Universal's business model was to make money from selling advertising during their TV shows. Now they're trying to get into a market of digitally distributing their TV shows. What needs to be done is to figure out how they can go from selling advertising time during TV shows (a scarce good) to selling recordings of TV shows (a non-scarce good with essentially zero marginal cost) in a way that is profitable. That's a business model problem, not a law enforcement problem.

     

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      Skippy T. Mut, May 8th, 2008 @ 8:02am

      Re: BZZT!

      I think its important to point out here that when watching shows on NBC's website there are still commercials in them. They've already solved the problem. Distribute the shows on the internet yourself with a couple commercials in them (or hell even put all of the original commercials from when it aired), make it easy and fast so people won't seek other means of obtaining the shows, and then STFU! I'm willing to bet the advertisers aren't going to care whether the commercial is seen on TV or an internet download. NBC could even keep track of how many people download the shows and still bill the advertisers for "airing" of the commercial...which would probably prove more profitable than TV alone!

      But no...I guess whining is just easier.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 8:55am

        Re: Re: BZZT!

        Well, there are 'problems' here as far as accounting goes. When you air a show it's 'easy' to judge how many eyes are on the screen. (Nevermind that you don't really know who's there and not in the kitchen getting a sandwich.) You could charge based on the popularity of the show (as I imagine they do now), but then it's per download and not per showing, which means the price goes up or the profits go down; advertizers don't want to pay more and providers don't want to earn less.

        More importantly, no one cares about ads. That's a key problem that's often over-looked in these discussions. If you put them in the download, someone's going to take them out and provide the 'clean' version. Ads need to be made better, different. Apple did a good job of this with their "I'm a Mac" shorts, which are entertaining and informative. I don't know how or if that can work on a larger scale for guys like NBC, but they need to try SOMETHING different.

         

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          Chronno S. Trigger, May 8th, 2008 @ 1:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: BZZT!

          But that's not how they do it. They can't see how many people are watching NBC at any one time. They guess by using focus groups and Nielsen families.

          If a file is put up on torrent it can be more accurately recorded by how many people download it.

          Let me ask this. When you watch a video on NBC.com can you fast forward threw the adds? If they let you download them from a torrent you could. That's what they are afraid of.

           

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    Ima Fish, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    I think that because "ISPs, device manufacturers, hosting companies, and site operators" depend on cheap content, that the content industries should prop up their business models by giving away content for free in non-DRM formats.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      I disagree, only because I don't think anyone should prop up anyone's business model. If the ISPs et al can't survive without free content, content providers aren't obligated to give it away. The fact remains that ISPs et al DON'T depend on free content, not to the point that they can't live without it.

       

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    Robert, May 9th, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    Hold Your Breath

    I hope they hold their breath waiting for the world to take care of them!

     

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    John Haigney, May 23rd, 2008 @ 10:56am

    Responsibility of Property

    I think there is an inherent respsonsibility on both sides to safeguard intellectual property. If we make the market un-viable for counterfeit product, we have a more fair and transparent business model. This benefits artists, content providers and distribution networks. Just my "two-cents".

     

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      Mike (profile), May 23rd, 2008 @ 11:23am

      Re: Responsibility of Property

      I think there is an inherent respsonsibility on both sides to safeguard intellectual property. If we make the market un-viable for counterfeit product, we have a more fair and transparent business model. This benefits artists, content providers and distribution networks. Just my "two-cents".

      The actual economic research suggests otherwise. IP laws aren't about "fairness," it's about incentives to create -- and the evidence suggests that the laws currently do a lot more harm than good.

       

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