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Monday, October 16, 2006

Video version of Napster may be on the horizon

On his blog Intellectual property law expert Michael Geist discusses the parallels between YouTube and Napster.

He expounds on his newspaper column on the topic, speculating on whether the YouTube - Google deal foreshadows licensed (as opposed to pirate) peer-to-peer systems... and examines why YouTube appears to be succeeding where Napster failed.

Interesting perspective on the record labels' "conventional wisdom" that p2p file sharing is the reason the recording industry is floundering:

... there is reason to doubt that P2P is a significant competitive threat - in addition to the lengthy list of alternative explanations for the downturn of some record labels (retail price pressures, declining catalogue sales due to lack of availability, competition from DVD sales), a Canadian Heritage profile of the Canadian music industry released this summer found that Canadian artists have seen their sales grow steadily since 2001 with their share of the Canadian market increasing from 16 percent in 2001 to 25 percent in 2004.

Well, golly gee, whodathunk? Might it be that Canadian artists are, er, producing better than quality music than what the recording industry is flogging these days? And now that the labels are losing their monopoly on distribution, are able to reach audiences?

Well, it certainly appears that "the times they are a-changing" ...

In 1999, Internet distribution focused on the use of law and technology to control content and dictate terms of use. That control has proven notoriously elusive with consumer backlash against technological and legal controls and emergence of highly efficient user-based distribution models. Furthermore, it is Internet advertising revenues - not Internet controls - that today hold the promise of billions of dollars in revenue. ...

Given these changes, what is the likelihood that a new licensed P2P model will come to the fore in the near future? Better than you might think. During the height of Napster, experts estimated that even a five-dollar monthly fee would have generated billions in additional revenue for the content industries, yet those companies chose instead to sue the P2P services along with thousands of their users. The YouTube deal may foreshadow a reversal, with the industry at long last ready to embrace the remarkable commercial potential of the Internet.

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