I just read the piece by Mark Mulligan (of Jupiter Research), reposted on PaidContent, on Why Music Can’t ‘Just Be Free’, and I have to say I disagree almost entirely (As you can see in my comment on the bottom of the PaidContent article).
As I realised in writing that comment, ‘Copyright is a byproduct of the business model put on content creation – not the reason that content was created’. Mark points to the introduction of copyright for music at 150 years ago, but music, and music-derived revenues, existed for far longer pre-copyright than after it.
And this is in no way suggesting that content creators of any kind should not be able to be rewarded for their work. I’ve spent almost a decade writing for a living, so I’m very appreciative of the money it created – but I’m also aware that it’s a priviledge, rather than a creative right, and that it’s necessary to find the most appropriate ways to derive value from content creation within the current environment.
The issue of revenue is probably the hardest, but there are more and more examples of revenue from freemium options, live gigs, merchandise etc coming all the time.
The easier point to remove is the idea that if content is free, we’ll be inundated with rubbish and won’t be able to filter out the good stuff. If that were true, there would be no head to The Long Tail, no A-list of bloggers, and I’d be making as much money as Techcrunch.
And that content creation is not driven by revenue – Wikipedia is just the biggest example.
On the plus side, paidcontent also had some interesting quotes from a Billboard interview with EMI which shows a lot of more promising developments.
- EMI was the first major to try dropping DRM.
- Focus not on sales
- Regaining innovation