Protecting Content


  Beach Barbeque 
  Originally uploaded by fredwilson.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend last night at a beach barbeque. My friend is in the content business. He brought up my post about DRM and iTunes. He said, "you know its not really Apple’s fault, it’s our fault (content owners) because we are the ones who require Apple to impose those restrictions".

I brought up the "five devices" restriction and said that it wasn’t enough in our family. That led to a discussion of what was right and fair. He made the point that content owners are scared of people taking advantage of their content in the digital realm.

I told him that content owners have two choices;

1 – make it simple, easy, and painless to purchase digital content and live with the risk that some people will take advantage of them.

2 – make it hard to purchase and consume digital content and ensure that people will find other ways to get the content (as happened in the music business).

He then said, "what if we destroy the economics of the content business and we won’t be able to afford to make high quality programming anymore?"

It’s a good question, but I don’t think its going to happen. In fact, I think if content owners take the approach of making their content readily available (meaning free or paid but without ridiculous restrictions on fair use), they will see an explosion of consumption that will make their business better than ever.