Fast, Fair, and Frictionless Content Licensing On The Internet

Yesterday we talked about some industry self regulation that the tech/internet industry could put in place in respecting copyright on the Internet. Today I would like to talk about some industry self regulation that the content industry could do in support of the same issue.

If you think about what it would take for the "three engineers in a loft" to get the service they build from the greylist to the whitelist (you need to read the post I linked to above to understand this context), they would need to get fully licensed to distribute the content in their service. That requires getting deals done with all the content owners.

Today that is hard if not impossible. I have seen this first hand many times. The content owners don't make it easy for new services to get licensed and in many cases they simply refuse to provide the licenses. This does a number of things.

First and foremost it stifles innovation because the best user experiences and business models come from rapid fire iteration and hyper competitive market dynamics.

But it also means that users find it difficult to find the content they want to consume legally and so they head off to the black market.

And it also means that two way, highly interactive services where the users are curating, posting, and engaging with content are problematic because they are subject to copyright infringement claims that cannot be easily resolved with instantaneous real-time licensing of the content that users are posting.

A friend of mine who does a lot of business with the content industry sent me an complimentary email about yesterday's post. I replied with:

I like the term copyrespect that someone used in the thread

Two things we need on the net

1) a culture of copyrespect

2) a fast fair frictionless licensing system that isn't based on propagating artificial scarcity

I don't think you will get one without the other.

Let's take Game Of Thrones. If you want to watch it on your iPad, you basically have one choice. You get the HBO Go app, you authenticate with your cable provider, and then you can watch it to your heart's content. But what if you don't have a cable provider. Well then you are out of luck.

That's not ubiquity and that is not fast, free, frictionless licensing on the Internet. If HBO were to make Game Of Thrones available to Hulu, Netflix, and any application that "three engineers in a loft" build on a standard set of licensing terms with instant self serve licensing (like Soundexchange), then there would be no need to go to Google or Bit Torrent and look for a pirated copy of Game Of Thrones. It would be all over the Internet legally and at a fair price. I am certain that most users would respond positively to such progress.

As hard as it is going to be to get the tech/internet industry to self regulate by building in blacklists and whitelists into search, social media, and other web and mobile services, I think it will be even harder to get the content industry to build instantaneous real-time self service licensing systems for their content. But that is what is going to be needed to create a culture of copyrespect on the Internet and I encourage them to get on with it.