Recognizing That 'Infringers' Are Actually Promoters, Why Not Reward Them?

from the smarter-business-models dept

A few years ago, we suggested that the entertainment industry could learn a lot from something that USA Today founder Al Neuharth did in the early years of USA Today: recognizing that the "thieves" taking his product without paying for it were actually his best distributors and promoters. In this case, it really was thieves -- college kids were stealing copies of USA Today. While Neuharth's lawyers suggested suing, Neuharth, instead decided to hire them as distributors, recognizing that this is what they were really doing already.

The same is quite often true with today's "infringers." Copyright law was really written for commercial infringement, and today because of its clumsy nature, it's capturing and punishing people who are really the content's best promoters and distributors. In many ways they should be rewarded rather than punished. And, it appears at least some businesses are trying to leverage that recognition. Jon Healey has the story of a product called Fotoglif that is targeting blogs and small publishers who don't have the money to license news photos. Thus, they either don't offer the photos or they use infringing images. However, Fotoglif tries to create an actual win-win situation for everyone involved, by allowing these sites to use photos for free and to profit from them. That's because the photos (licensed from the big agencies) include some small ads in them as well, with the ad revenue being split between the copyright holder, the publisher and Fotoglif.

Who knows if this particular business succeeds. I have my doubts that it can actually get enough usage or ad rates high enough to actually make it work as an ongoing business. But the general strategy, of recognizing there's a better way to build win-win business models, rather than assuming that all of the value is in the content alone while ignoring the value of so-called "infringers" promoting and distributing the content for free, is definitely a step in the right direction.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    tristin (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Finally

    Good to see that Mike and Jon Healy seem to have been able to kiss and make up.

    Is it really so hard to see the benefit in using "infringers" to your advantage? The very idea that they are willing to use their valuable time to build something around your product (or upload it to the internet, etc.) shows that they are fans with means to influence others and therefore valuable.

    Maybe the real issue isn't about promoting the products, but about control. I can imagine that certain groups, when given the choice between maintaining control or making a lot more money, would actually choose control. The belief that monopolies are the ultimate source of power and success has distracted these groups from the real goal of making money.

    Or maybe the problem is that lawyers are in control instead of entrepreneurs and businessmen. Common sense business is replaced with cutthroat litigation. After all, the lawyers make money regardless of the outcomes of lawsuits. They have nothing to lose by suing people all day long.

    Once again, the system is the root cause of the problem and the breeding ground for despicable attorneys. Damn government interference!

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!

    Nah, this is stupid.

    Due to their background, the Indian Consultants won't understand. Remember, in order to get on the boat and get here, they had to be pretty well off: Usually upper class.

    And in a country of 1.1B people make $0.25 a day, you afford a move to the USA and become upper class purely thru massive exploitation of labor.

    So yes, the Indian Consultants won't understand why they should give anything away, and because they keep saving me money, I'm angry that you even mentioned this.

    So angry, I'm going fire some expensive Citizens and offshore their job.

    Y'all are idiots!

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    A childish analogy

    Remember Sid Meier's Civlization games?

    I had a friend who played Civ III religiously. He prided himself on being a generally benevolent leader, openly trading with all the comuter civs on the planet, and being a generally all around nice guy. The result was that he was super advanced in science/military, even though he rarely used the units.

    Inevitably, one of the other civs would send a settler unit right up against his territory sphere and it would chip away at his total territory by some insignificant amount. My friend would then nuke that entire infringing civilization.

    These are the people running the recording industry.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    "....recognizing that the "thieves" taking his product without paying for it were actually his best distributors and promoters."

    For this to be a valid argument it would be unnecessary for the infringer to actually put in some effort to promote and/or distribute. If you think uploading content to the internet is comparable to promotion or distribution you haven't yet figured out how the internet actually works !.

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 8th, 2009 @ 3:11pm

    Re:

    For this to be a valid argument it would be unnecessary for the infringer to actually put in some effort to promote and/or distribute.

    Right. It would be unnecessary. Not sure what point you're making...

    If you think uploading content to the internet is comparable to promotion or distribution you haven't yet figured out how the internet actually works !.

    I'd argue that a bunch of different people just doing a *small part* of the process, COMBINED acts as a better distribution and promotion mechanism than the old methods.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 3:46pm

    Internet is a distibution mechanism so anything you upload is distributed. This message, for example, will be distributed to the people reading it when I hit the "submit" (i.e. upload) button.

    If the internet is not a distribution mechanism I must have missed a very very very important memo in life.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    bigpicture, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Lessons from Nature

    If you don't understand it then maybe you should study how nature does it. The terminology that they use is "mutualism" as it applies to symbiotic relationships.

    The Bee steals the nectar from the flower and in doing so pollinates the species thus ensuring it's propagation. (mutual benefit) The pollination usually produces fruit which is food for something and in stealing it and eating it the seeds get deposited at various locations ensuring the genus gets distributed. (mutual benefit) Would the Bee pollinate if the flower did not give it any nectar that can be stolen?? Would the seeds get distributed by this means if the plant did not produce fruit that can be stolen??? When this "mutualism" method is not used they are usually considered to be weeds like dandelions and thistles. Everything in the end including business should have an organic modus operandi.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Hero, Jul 9th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Re: Say what?

    >If you think uploading content to the internet is
    >comparable to promotion or distribution you haven't yet
    >figured out how the internet actually works !.

    You on wrong so many different levels, I hardly know where to start.

    First, if you upload content to the internet, you ARE promoting it. In essence, you are saying to anyone else... I value this content enough to make it available. You are unofficially endorsing it.

    If a person then downloads the content, watches/listens to it, etc. and they like it, they are 1000% more likely to buy the CD/DVD, watch the next movie, or the next season of the TV series, etc. If it's a band, they may even go to the band's next concert... all because they were exposed to it by the person who made it available. Had they not downloaded it, they would never have been exposed and would have had 0% chance of becoming interested.

    This is very similar to the way things were in the 80's. You went to a friend's house or road in their car and they were playing a tape of a band - or even a mix that they created on their dual cassette deck. You hear something you like, ask the person the band... then you go out and buy a CD or attend a concert, etc.

    The problem is value. Perceived value. Is the cost to download a track was a penny, there would be no (or VERY little) music sharing. Why? Because it would be easier and more efficient for people to just buy the song and download it than to spend the time looking for songs online, maybe finding it, maybe not... maybe it's the right song, maybe it's not... etc.

    People innately value their time. They pay money for things that have value or give them more time. Oil Changes are a good example. It's cheaper to change your own oil... but how many of us actually do it? It's messy, it takes time, it takes tools, an area to do it, etc. So much easier to pay the $20 to get it changed. And everyone wins. The service stations make a little money and we save time.

    Music is overpriced. People no longer see the value in it. There are just WAY too many other distractions. Back when there was only radio, and no TV... music was the KING. There was no competition. Then along came movies... TV... now music had competition. Then came game systems, computers, internet, etc.

    Each additional avenue that opens for our free time, decreases the value of all other avenues.

    The problem is, the fat cats running the music industry still think they have a monopoly on people's discretionary income. They don’t. They now have competition. And since they haven’t changed their pricing model to reflect this, people no longer believe that they are getting a fair value or the product, so they look for it at the price they believe it’s worth… they buy it used or they find it on the internet.

    And that’s only one issue. The fact that they spend so much money on MARKETING and making the product (music album, movie, etc.) look great… and then you buy the album or see the music and it sucks… then you can’t return it.

    Remember the old days when you could take products back and get your money back? Those days are gone. Now, people want to make sure the product is good since they know retailers and manufacturers don’t care about their own products and certainly not about their customers.

    The movie industry cries big elephant tears about how piracy is cutting into their profits when that’s not really the reason at all. Want to know the real reason? Technology. I can read a review of a movie THE DAY IT’S RELEASED. I can get text, twitted, or facebooked exactly what my friends thought of the movie and if they say it sucks, I don’t go see it. And that’s the way it is with ME… and I’m older. It’s 100x worse with teens as they are TOTALLY into their social networking.

    If something happens in a school, you can pretty much guarantee that everyone in the school will know about it by the end of the day – they have twitter forwarded to their cell phones already!

    Go back, do some research, take some sociology courses, then come back and offer an educated opinion.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    yassy.wang (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 8:52pm

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

  10.  
    icon
    yassy.wang (profile), Jul 9th, 2009 @ 9:00pm

    GPS Tracker supplier from Shenzhen China

    Our gps tracker with 5 solutions:
    Solution I: for private car-NO software support.
    Solution II: small group,need software and modem,control several hundred cars,charge by SMS-Maptrack_SA.
    Solution III: small group,need software and modem,control several hundred cars,charge by SMS and GPRS-Maptrack_SB.
    Solution IV: big group,need clients software and servers,control several thousand,charge by GPRS and servers-Maptrack_CS.
    Solution V: big group,only need web and servers,control several thousand,charge by GPRS and servers-MapTrack_BS.

    http://www.oxiang.com.cn/products.asp?areaId=279

    Software Information
    Maptrack_SA

    This is the simplest software.You need our modem connect with PC and software Maptrack_SA. See the picture above.
    The modem is to recive and send SMS to control the trackers.
    Our software will show the position on the map.
    You could operate through friendly windows.
    The software collect all the information and store them in PC.
    The running cost is low. Every time to locate, you only pay for two SMS for one time.
    If you have under 50 vehicles to locate and do not need to track realtime, you could select this way.
    This software has two version for diffirent map:
    Google Earth GGMapTrack_SA
    Mapinfo MxMapTrack_SA
    Mxmaptrack_SA has GEO fencing.User could set a area which when the vehicle is entering or leaving, system send alarm information.


    Maptrack_SB
    Maptrack_SB has the same hardware as Maptrack_SA, but it has GPRS working mode and need internet connection.
    As we know when we send short message to our friend, he will get it after several minutes and we can't send SMS every 5 or 10 seconds.
    GPRS work mode with internet support can transfer mass of information so maptrack_SB can track the vehicle real time and get the immediately response from device.
    User could see the car is running on the map and collect more waypoints and information.
    This software has two version for different map,Mxmaptrack_SB has GEO fencing:
    GoogleEarth GGMapTrack_SB
    Mapinfo MxMapTrack_SB

    Maptrack_CS
    Maptrack_CS Maptrack_CS is large professional tracking system.
    It supports hundreds or thousands vehicles for user to locate and management.
    There's workstation as a server on the internet to collect and store all the data.
    And further more, a static IP address is necessary.
    All trackers send the information through GRPS channel and internet to server.
    User need to install client software on his computer.
    He will locate and manage the vehicles by the client software.
    It's suitable for the TAXI, bus or special vehicles which need there's someone monitoring for 24 hours one day.
    User need install a clinet software into his computer.
    He locate and manage the vehicles through this client software.

    MapTrack_BS
    Maptrack_SB Compare Maptrack_CS with Maptrack_BS, no extra software to install to user's pc which is good feature of Maptrack_BS.
    User could login server with any compute by IE or Firefox.
    It supports hundreds or thousands vehicles too.
    It's more exciting for consumers he could track his vehicle at office, at home, on the road, anywhere and anytime with internet.
    Furthermore, the operator could setup a website for it.
    All of users could login in the website and see the information, set up forum for the interesting things and sharing stories.
    We had build this website, welcome to join us!

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Scott Bourne, Jul 19th, 2009 @ 4:46am

    Infringers

    And the hits just keep on coming. Did you actually write - "The so-called infringers...." ???????

    What's "so-called" about them? They are indeed absolutely, positively, 100%, no doubt infringers. Period. They're crooks, thieves, low-lifes, and 1000 other adjectives that would probably trigger some sort of filter.

    In answer to your question: "Recognizing That 'Infringers' Are Actually Promoters, Why Not Reward Them?"

    I do reward them - I reward them with a free education in how the U.S. Copyright Act is enforced in the U.S. District Court system.

    I can't think of any other business where people would propose such poppycock.


    How about - "Instead of incarcerating bank robbers for robbing banks, why not reward them for contributing spending power to the faltering consumer spending numbers?"

     

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


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