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
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Aug 2006 @ 9:15am

    music videos != promotion

    You are presupposing that the industry sees music videos as a promotional tool. While internally they might, their outward stance, as so eloquently put in a telephone conversation with a Universal Music exec, is,

    "We see no promotional value in music videos."

    When we pressed as to why they actually spend millions of dollars making them, the answer was something along the lines of them opening up a can of worms when MTV began that they couldn't just close now.

    UMusic, especially, is hestitant to embrace "new media" at all. They have a bunch of legal hounddogs fighting tooth and nail to squeeze every last penny out of licensing music video content. The current going rate is $5 CPM.

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