Disrupt vs. Disturb

Jack Perry raises an important point– All of the disruptive technologies in the media space that relied on copyright infringement have gone bankrupt or essentially disappeared. You can’t fight the rights holders head on.

The disruptive technologies that have been successful in both changing how consumers use copyrighted media and still remain in business have worked with rights holders, not against them. Apple brought the record companies into iTunes, a financial agreement was made, and users found iTunes easier than stealing through Napster and the like. Netflix has changed how viewers consume TV and movies- but the owners are still getting paid. That’s the critical difference to Napster and the like.

The question of whether media companies will change their business models enough to thrive in the new financial reality remains open-it appears they are grasping that consumers want to consume their media on their schedule and in their ways. Why not give them full access to the back catalogs of content that probably aren’t generating much cash at present? Why not let viewers watch their prime-time programs online with a few targeted ads thrown in? Why not sell a live recording of every concert you’ve ever given?

Those hoping to change the media world would be advised to bring the rights holders to the table first. iTunes and Netflix may win the war, but they will do so by cutting a lot of checks along the way.



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