Companies need to learn new moves.

It’s been a common subject in my blog, even more than I inteded to, about how new medias changed the way creators and audiences interact, and how most companies seems so far behind on the pace. Companies need to start to find new ways to do business,because just trying to apply old rules in new setting will stop working at some point.

The following information about law control in UK really disturbed me:

Make File-Sharing a Criminal Offense?
However, the thought of Miss Isabella Barwinska picking up a £16,000 bill from the civil courts recently for sharing one £10 game is outrageous too, but maybe even more so. Miss Barwinska didn’t turn up or defend her case, no-one seems to know why, but for a lot of people facing similar actions, the prospect of facing a legal system they don’t understand and can’t afford to participate in, financial issues are at the forefront of doing nothing about the threatening letters.

These people simply cannot defend themselves and this is why it might make sense to criminalize personal-use file-sharing. In a criminal case if you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you by the state and you get the benefit of proper justice at least, a right of reply within a proper structure, not grubby threatening letters designed to wear people down.

I’ll let you into a little secret. When people say file-sharing is “as bad as shoplifting”, in the UK that comparison is pretty ridiculous. Many shoplifters are let off with a simple caution and even the most persistent would have to be uniquely unlucky to get fined £6,000 (plus £10,000 costs) for a £10 game. If Miss Barwinska had been caught physically stealing it, a police caution would be likely, or perhaps a very small fine. In the ‘real-world’ she’d need to smash through the storefront with a truck to end up with a fine the size of the one she got.

It must really disturb content owners the fact that they’re losing control over things they own, but the fact is there’s still lack of culture of how to approach this matter, just like business models there’s a need for a new approach, but it’s not by trying to figure out new models of DRM, that we’ll find a solution for this.

The following excerpt from another Blog, match up with my way of thinking.

DRM Of Any Kind Will Always Lose

Then today we hear from Mary Jo Foley that Microsoft is further muddying the DRM waters by announcing the fact that they are joining the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). This consortium of businesses that includes Cisco, Warner Brothers, Sony, Best Buy among a host of other companies; with the exception of Apple, proposes a policy of buy once, play anywhere.

Now before you get all excited at the prospect of the time when you might actually be able to do what you want with something you have paid for you might want to ask the same questions that Ms. Foley did

Will the DECE come up with some kind of new DRM scheme, one that will require brand-new, DECE-enabled devices? And will Windows somehow be part of this new mix? Engadget is reporting there will be some kind of “rights locker,” where digital purchases will be stored. If that is the case, what does that mean for the forthcoming “Skymarket” Windows Mobile 7 app store, the Zune VideoX initiative or even Live Mesh?

The problem is that nobody is answering those questions at this point.

The thing is that no matter what kind of consortium all these companies might want to create to protect their profit margins none of them will work in the long run. As each efforts at new forms of DRM are thought of they are just as quickly broken.

The fact is that people quite rightly feel that if they pay out good money for something then it is theirs and they will do what they want with it. This mentality has has also been compounded by the increasing attitude that stuff available on the Internet should be free.

It doesn’t matter whether or not someone has spent months or years on a product – the moment it hits the Internet it is suppose to be free and if it isn’t is will soon be made that way – especially for the more net savvy people. It doesn’t matter if we block the ads that are supposed to pay for the product you have downloaded – it’s free and it’s your right to have it without any cost.

We are building this attitude of entitlement into the very fabric of the web and there isn’t a company around that is going to be able to combat that with any type of DRM.

Just as there are people who say that the advertising supported business model is headed down a slippery hill the same can be said of companies who are relying on any kind of DRM technology. It’s just a matter of time.

I wonder what classic business or marketing would say under this scenario. You know those authors that we learn about in business class. Bet it would be something quite interesting.

I wonder if there will be some company really courageous enough to try something different, be the edgier experimental one that might actually be the pioneer for some real change, for getting really adapted to these new interaction. Even Apple for all their innovations, is still somewhat traditional.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Hoist the Colors… Part 3

I’d like to start this hopefully conclusion part of this really long topic post, by fowarding you to two articles that just arrived to me merely minutes ago through Twitter.

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom.

Elite Torrents admin Dove faces 10 years.

This is such a complicated matter, that you can’t completely blame the companies for wanting to protect their investments. Rights that laws from each country seek to protect.

Protection is an important word in this subject, US’ Copyright laws or Brazilian Authorship laws (as I’ve touched on before here)  were written to protect the owners and creators, creating obstacles for people with bad intentions. Problem is when those obstacles created for protection, become some big blinding wall or sluggish chains that will bind any tipe of flexibility.

A great part of interactivity possibilities that the internet allow nowadays, is that no one is really isolated anymore, despite sometimes social abilities developed through technological resources sometimes only applying to that certain environments, sharing became a requirement, even if sharing is for a selected number of people.

The thing is legally speaking, there are things you can share, and there are things you can’t share, the in between area between them is what make all things so blurry and gloomy. The p2p networks which is based on broaden the reach of lending something to a friend, into another level, have both bright and dark sides. Content providers, are investing on being active in new tech, but are weary on really distributing that content, creating mechanisms to limit its distribution. It’s frustrating as I pointed in part 1, when you can talk with everyone anywhere around the world, but you can’t get the same content through similar online resources, because the content provider won’t allow it. It bothers me that still audiences are treated by them as mostly receivers of content.

There has to be a new solution. Things have started to change, but not fast enough.  Some examples include initiatives toward creating immersive experiences, playing with public participation into fictional worlds. But still most of those proposals are limited by country boundaries, with limited interplay by audiences from any country in the world.

The Creative Commons project is a very interesting initiative that attempts to unify a license that can be used anywhere in the world, it never really stops you from also licensing your creation through specific protective channels in your native country, and it works is a lot of countries. Trouble is, sometimes create ambiguous situations, in which allowances provided by Creative Commons, are completely negated by local protective laws. Flipping it a bit protective devices provided by local law, become at some levels questionable.

A real middle ground has to be found. What sickens me is that instead of looking for a middle ground, we have people reaching exactly for the opposite road, such initiative include the Brazilian Senator Azeredo. Which is pretty much making what the New York judge just forced Google do for Viacom’s sakes, sound like small joke, since every such action will become the standard procedure in Brazil.  It simply chains up, an already quite narrow law structure, it almost takes us back to the times of military dictatorship, but instead of crazy military dudes playing gods, we’re just getting closer to a business run reality, in which BuyNLarge (have you seen Wall-e?) or Blue Sun type corporations with run the life of everyone in the world. Professor Sérgio Amadeu through his blog, has been doing a great coverage about this alarming issue. Even if you have to rely on translator to get the general idea, is worth checking it out.

A modern poet, once sang:

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Maybe there’s a small part of my soul is one of those pure anarchists, that thinks that chaos is necessary, despite my rational thrive for order.

Maybe, I’m such a dreamer, that someday chaos and order are at the end only one, and in such chaotic harmony, things will just be figured out freedom will really be guaranteed, but creation will also be protected.

Then, you start to question, what does it mean when companies start endorsing messages that stimulate actions for people fight against those same limited laws. That was the message I got from Pirates of the Caribeean, and for such reason I wanted to start this too long discussion, quoting one of the movies, with a line that sought exactly to expose this fight, this struggle. What does this mean?

Well, we’ll see as the story progress.

Hoist the Colors… Part 2

Won’t be providing the content I promised at the of yesterday’s post, instead I’ll do it tomorrow, and point to the same discussion elsewhere.

Basically, I’m switching the gears a bit here, I’d like to point the few readers here, to follow me to a certain Whedonesque thread, where important issues about this are being discussed. Well, at the end of the day I was going to tie everything up with the release of Dr. Horrible after all, so better early than late.

I think I might actually post a few more comments there, before coming back here. But, stick around for part 3, where I’ll attempt the distill a few more words in this really long discussion.

Hoist the Colors…

From the words of Elizabeth Swann from “PIrates of the Caribeen: At World’s End”: You will listen to me! LISTEN! The other ships will still be looking to us, to the Black Pearl, to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilgerats aboard a derelict ship? No, no they will see free men and freedom! And what the enemy will see, they will see the flash of our cannons, and they will hear the ringing of our swords, and they will know what we can do! By the sweat of our brow and the strength of our backs and the courage in our hearts! Gentlemen, hoist the colors!

I know, it’s hard to take someone seriously, when this someone is quoting a fictional character from Pirates of Caribeean, instead of some academic, with some text that says mostly the same thing. But, bare with me, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

How much did it bug you when, after reading some interesting post from a blogger about a very interesting subject, but then you find an embedded video from that’s essential for the post setting, and you try to watch it, but end up bumping into the non-availability message.

hulu error

Let’s see what they tell us…

For now, Hulu is a U.S. service only. That said, our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide. This requires clearing the rights for each show or film in each specific geography and will take time. We’re encouraged by how many content providers have already been working along these lines so that their programs can be available over the Internet to a much larger, global audience. The Hulu team is committed to making great programming available across the globe.

I don’t blame Hulu for it, as they deal mostly with content provided from mainstream providers, it’s just some mind warping issue regarding legality, which I’ll try to assess today. I’m no law specialist, but I like to reflect on the amount of frustration. I won’t try to discuss ethical issues pertaining disrespecting the authors and creators of the content, as it will take another ten pages of endless discussion.  Won’t try even to start to consider online trolling, into the equations, as online social environment, is another long endless subject. I’ll stick to the corporate view.

The access to content environment has changed a lot in the recent years. The Youtube explosion is only the best example of a sucesss of the .flv protocol for video proliferation, as there are other hundreds of other websites (I’ve been using the download helper add-on for Firefox, and there’s even a ranking), that try to emulate it’s approach, or prefer to be explore specific types of videos focused towards a specific public. Despite rules against it, it’s not only about getting people access to original content created by the users, but also, allow people to get content otherwise unavailable, even when it means breaking the terms of use, by posting copyrighted material which was not created by the user. How many times have you caught yourself reminiscing about some childhood memories though a show or cartoon (or even only the opening), that someone did upload to one of these websites. A lot of times, the easy access to these tool, just provided easier outsource channels to grassroots movements that have existed for years.

Science Fiction and fantasy fans from all over the world, might be the ones most experienced into this field, as years ago was even harder to get content from the things you are fan of.  Fansub is a common word for Anime fans, as it is defined as an unofficial video tape release of an anime that has been subtitled to a western language by fans.  Technically illegal, it was born as a grassroot movement, in which fans weren’t getting the content from anywhere else, and found a way to do it themselves. Most experienced Fansubbers follow the strict rule, that they’d stop distributing a fansubbed production, whenever an official distributions arises. Profitting from it is illegal, but fans do try to compensate the hard work that’s put into it.

Nowadays, fansubbing can even be considered to be a much wider movement, with fans from around the world, translating and creating subtitles for movies and simply every tv show which is ripped daily. A simple google search can get you access to lastest bittorrent file for the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica, Lost or even Law & Order. Another simple search will get you to websites providing with the subtitles for the episodes, for those who are not native speakers, even then, sometimes people from the US, have trouble to understand slangs and quirks from british english.

Is any of this legal? Not at all.  Mainstream content providers face a major issue, in which they are simply uncapable of keeping up with the beat required on the web, as people around the world can get an episode a few minutes after it been shown for the first time in it official time slot.  Well, some international viewers might even get to watch something, before US viewers on pacific time zone. What happens to the market when country borders become a major obstacle. When official channels, still provide blocks to international viewers, to access the content, the only solution available is to seek for illegal sources, which and the end of the day, even friedlier, because they are for free.

What happens when internet is a major issue?Just like time has pretty much hurt news coverage, time is also an issue here. Fans (which are exactly the type of people who will and have the income to invest on what they enjoy) don’t want to wait another month or on worst case scenarios over two years to get content that’ll be discussed hours later in message boards around the globe. In such context, users try to treat each others as equals, even as people on more high end points of tech saviness attempt to include tech newbies. Problem is, from the market point of view, they’re not equal. How do you sell a show time slot to companies when the market share becomes a blurry concept. I expect another several long years for any possible initial agreement towards rights, monetization and how this will affect content distribution. It won’t be something that will be solved in a day or two.

(to be continued… tomorrow I’ll be back with more about why this “us against them” thing is what’s hurting the market, why change is needed, I’ll come in with my 2 cents about a polemic project from a old minded senator from Brazil, and try to conclude this long post on why the hell I quoted Pirates of the Caribeean on the first place).