Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Online Content Distribution Issues Slowly Smoothing Out

Since the Internet has become a major means of obtaining content of all kinds, it has been rife with issues relating to unauthorized content distribution. We still have a long way to go for these issues to fully smooth themselves out: after all, it's incredibly easy to get whatever information one wants onto the Internet for literally the entire world to see! But we're definitely on the right track.

Just today, music studio Sony BMG made a deal with Yahoo with regards to the use of its music and videos in user-generated content that's uploaded to the site. Yahoo will give Sony a cut of its advertising revenue, and Sony BMG will permit its artist's material to be used in content that appears on the site. Finally a deal that makes sense and is working toward the consumer's interests, not against them.

Encouragingly, this isn't the first of such deals to come down the pike: Sony BMG has already made a similar deal with Google and its popular YouTube property; while NBC Universal and News Corp. said earlierthis year that it would create its own Internet video distribution network that would feature thousands of hours of full-length programming, movies and clips from at least a dozen networks and two major film studios.

Meanwhile, popular sites that feature user-generated content, like Yahoo and YouTube, are working vigorously to employ content filtering technologies that would weed out anything that uses unlicensed copyright material. And music downloading Websites and music studios, like iTunes and EMI, are finally beginning to embrace DRM-free content. In terms of the current Hollywood Writer's Guild strike, which is fueled by the writer's feelings that they aren't being appropriately compensated for content distributed online, rumour has it that the parties are back into negotiations. This is the kind of progress that is very encouraging: don't try to hinder technological development; work with it.

On another note, there are still naysayers that simply won't embrace the changing way we consume content. Famed record producer Jermaine Dupri is one of them, having gone on a rant in the Huffington Post about the state of the music industry. He feels that consumers should buy an entire album if they want one song: that's the way it always has been, and that's the way it should remain. I understand his point that an album is created to tell a story as a whole, and a lot of work goes into creating the "work of art", but to say that sites like iTunes are "helping customers destroy their canvas" is a bit of a stretch. I guess the "random play" option on any CD player or music system should be squashed as well, because this often leads to only a few tracks off each inserted CD playing within a set.

I digress...

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