Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where is the value in TV and film programmes

The punch-up between Viacom and Google reminds us how far the copyright debate has to go.

It seems to me that most people in companies have a funny idea about the value of their value systems.

Most have not read the 1994 John Perry Barlow article in Wired Magazine.

Lets take a simple example. There is a special thrill in reading good old fashioned newspapers. The paper, the layout the mix and match of style and context makes this a special experience. It is the same with magazines both consumer and B2B. There is a special relationship between a reader and the mag. Even if you read the story in a newspaper, the magazine take is different. You buy both magazines and newspapers.

The trouble is that content in newspapers (and magazines) has a limited exposure and a short shelf life. From time to time some people try to increase the reach of a story or its longevity.

They take clippings. Reading clippings is not the same as reading the original. It is sanitised and comparatively ugly. Now here is the rub. Publishers don't like people taking press clippings because they feel that this is an abuse of copyright and if someone wanted to read the article, they should buy the whole newspaper. The reality is that, with few exceptions, the value of a clipping content as an experience is not enough to prompt people to buy the newspaper. The value is just not worth it most of the time. So the publishers limit the longevity and reach of their copyright in the UK through an agency set up to do just that.

Some people read content online. Once again the story has an increased circulation and life. The experience of reading press stories online is very different to reading it in print. People read more words online (yes - that is a surprise). The content is in a different context. But publishers don't like us doing that. They want to charge subscriptions, or get at email addresses to shout at people who want to read their journalists' content (but possibly not the publishers' advertisers' content) . Alternatively, the publisher serves up advertisement and online readers will accept some of that interference in exchange for reading the editorial.

What the copyright holders find hard to understand is that these three media (and there are lots more) for their initial copyright are different experiences. The commercial model can be different too.

Trying to make copyright fit all platforms and channels for communication is stupid. The experience is different and what and how people are prepared to pay for it is different. I like listening to the verbal declamation of some newspaper journalists, as well as reading their writing in print and online and the added blog comment as well as some of the online video.

The same goes for music and video. I am listening to Guitar music (Mario Parodi - Fur Elise on as I write using a headset. I could be listening to a track on my laptop in a range of formats. It is different to using earbuds, LoFi and HiFi CD players, and broadcast radio, indoor concerts, and outdoor gigs, the London Underground busker or (horrors) in a supermarket.

Like the publishers of news, publishers of music and video are just rubbish at getting the most from their copyright. They want a one stop suits all method for getting the best value from journalists or artists.

What they miss is the value of copyright. In reality it is worth nothing.

It gets value in an exchange with, guess who, you and me.

Today, its digitised and can spread and replicate and transcend platforms and channels for communication and the publisher can still have it and hold it as its own.

Keep upsetting me, I say to publishers, and I will just go somewhere else or will just break your rules and end up in court where you win the case and I win the argument.

With just a tiny bit of imagination - publishers are not renown for it - the ways of making pots of money and creating massive assets are available to all copyright holders.

When Roland Gribben says " DaimlerChrysler was born out of ego, arrogance and an element of naivety. J├╝rgen Schrempp, Prussian-style chief executive of Daimler Benz, was on the ego trip." Its a great statement. Here is a long standing and respected global commentator making a powerful statement. To hear that in podcast form, on YouTube or in debate, could be a much richer and added experience. The drama is everything in print and has great potential elsewhere not least in the PR exchange that always follows such statements.

Drama that a lot of people would want to exchange for real money.

It is in the morphing and Internet Agency where true value arises online. Digitisation releases information and knowledge creativity and authors from the place where copyright has its hold.

Value is in the values that go with the content and delivery channel and changing values into a new metaphor for value (OK so you want money) is a different trick altogether.