NBC Universal Now Says It Should Be Apple's Responsibility To Stop Piracy

from the oh-please dept

Sometimes you wonder how the folks at NBC Universal get anything accomplished, when they seem totally unable to accept responsibility for the market challenges they face, and demand that everyone else fix NBC Universal's business model problems. Remember, NBC Universal has been the main supporter of the idea that ISPs should be responsible for stopping any unauthorized transfer of content. But why take chances on having just one outside party prop up your business model?

Now, NBC Universal's "chief digital officer," George Kliavkoff, is saying that it should be Apple's responsibility to stop unauthorized usage by building special antipiracy filters into iTunes. Yes, iTunes -- the service that plenty of people use in order to legally purchase content. However, since iTunes is also the connection that most people use to manage their iPod content, NBC Universal thinks Apple should somehow block the ability to get non-authorized material onto the iPod. How would they do that? How would they know that a song is authorized vs. legally ripped? Don't bother asking tough questions like that. After all, if NBC Universal actually knew how to answer them, it wouldn't be telling everyone else that they're required to fix NBC Universal's broken business model. And, of course, it apparently hasn't occurred to NBC Universal execs that if Apple actually agreed to this (which seems extremely unlikely), it would just push people to jump to other solutions to manage their music, such as Songbird.

Kliavkoff then goes on to say: "It's really difficult for us to work with any distribution partner who says 'Here's the wholesale price and the retail price,' especially when the price doesn't reflect the full value of the product." Note the careful choice of words here. Remember, we were just discussing how the entertainment industry is trying to appropriate all value that is associated with content (even if that value is because of some other vehicle) back to the content owner. Kliavkoff's statement also shows a confusion over the difference between price and value -- and because of that he seems to be assigning all the value to the content and almost none to the service and technology Apple provides (sound familiar?). Coming from a "chief digital officer" that seems troublesome for the company's digital strategies. Then again, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise. Companies that have a "chief digital officer" are already in trouble because they're sectioning off "digital" as if it's some separate function, rather than a key component that will impact all aspects of the business.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2008 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Pricing

    I agree. I think it is silly to charge $1 for every song regardless of the demand for the product. I love Led Zeppelin, they are my favorite rock band (showing my age, I know). But even though I am a fan I won't pay $1 for music that is basically 30+ years old. It simply isn't worth it to me. The wholesaler should be able to set the wholesale prices, and the retailer should markup whatever they feel is appropriate. The market will dictate whether the price accurately reflects the combined value of the product and the service.

    That being said, the music industry needs to recognize they can't set a flat wholesale price for every song either. They need to discount the deep cuts in their catalog.

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