Copy Protection Killing The Promotional Value Of Content

from the missing-the-point-in-a-big,-big-way dept

While people often accuse us of "promoting piracy," nothing could be further from the truth. As we've said repeatedly over the years, we don't condone piracy -- but think that businesses need to recognize that it's a part of the market place, and if that's the case, why not learn to use it to your advantage, rather than fight against it? It's actually pretty simple to do so. Rather than thinking about content as a good that is being taken for no revenue, think about the content as a promotional good that costs nothing to distribute. Suddenly, a bunch of new business models open up that allow you to embrace people sharing your content. To be honest, this isn't a particularly new or unique idea. Using "free" as a promotional tool has been around for years. It's why there are buy one, get one free offers. Or free drinks in casinos. It's why you get to watch broadcast TV for free. In other words, there are already a ton of business models that understand the fundamental idea that "free" isn't bad when used for promotions. It's definitely true in the music video market. Music videos promote musicians, helping to sell more CDs, concert tickets and merchandise. With a few video download stores popping up online, it looked for a while that some of the record labels were thinking about trying to charge for music videos, basically destroying their promotional value and missing the point on the value of promotional goods.

The folks over at YouTube are hoping to change that, by working with various record labels to go back to the roots of music videos as promotional material and putting up music videos for free on YouTube. However, it's not clear that everyone has figured this basic concept out just yet. Over the last few weeks, the band OK Go has build up something of a cult following for its video of the band on treadmills for the song "Here It Goes Again." It's been passed around via email, on blogs and I even saw it mentioned on some TV show. The video is available on the band's website and YouTube among other places. However, Tim Lee noticed that on the band's blog they ask people to go to VH1's site to vote for their video. There's just one problem: Tim is on a Mac, and the video on VH1's site won't play on his Mac, because it's incompatible with the Microsoft DRM that VH1 seems to be using for no good reason at all. As Tim explains, this is beyond pointless. It's actually harmful to the idea of using the video as promotion (as the band clearly wants). There's simply no reason to use copy protection technology here -- as it completely goes against the very point of music videos. However, with the industry continually beating the "DRM is necessary" drum, it's no surprise that VH1 would feel compelled to put DRM where it absolutely isn't needed.
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  1. identicon
    Bull Shifter, 17 Aug 2006 @ 8:56am

    piracy promotion? HAH, That's funny

    "Using "free" as a promotional tool has been around for years. It's why there are buy one, get one free offers. Or free drinks in casinos. It's why you get to watch broadcast TV for free. In other words, there are already a ton of business models that understand the fundamental idea that "free" isn't bad when used for promotions."

    You're not buying anything when you pirate music. If that were the case then this fictional scenario would work. However in the piracy game, it's get all you can for nothing.

    You watch broadcast TV "free" because of the advertising revenue. If we pursue this avenue then you could pirate songs off of the internet complete with a snippet of the Double-mint twins hawking gum.

    Free drinks at Casino's? Let's see, I don't think the Casino's are in the business of selling soft drinks. They're getting you loosened up so that you loosen your grip on your bling-bling.

    All of these examples assume 1 thing. That is, you're buying something, and the proprieters are rewarding you with a token of appreciation for said purchase. What exactly are you buying from the artist/record label when you pirate music off of Kazaa or some file sharing service?

    These comparisons are ridiculous. Capitalism dictates that if you have something of value that you can sell it and make money. Be it a Monte Carlo, Milk Duds, or Music, you sell to make money. Some of these comments sound like a textbook case of class warfare. IE - Don't be jealous because because your boy Ricky Martin made some big duckies on his hit single and moved into a big crib. That don't mean he's a sellout. Just enjoying the profits, baby.

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