Friday, 26 June 2009

Benefits of hindsight - 10 years from Napster

On the BBC website today, Geoff Taylor, head of the BPI reflects on the past 10 years of the music industry:

Many critics have argued that the music industry could have avoided some of the problems it faces today if we had embraced Napster rather than fighting it.

That's probably true, and I, for one, regret that we weren't faster in figuring out how to create a sustainable model for music on the internet.

But this view also overlooks the formidable hurdles we faced in 1999.

To make music fully and legally available on the internet meant clearing the rights in millions of tracks for a huge number of countries, agreeing how the revenue should be shared, implementing workable DRM (which everyone considered fundamental at the time), developing technology to track all the downloads for royalty purposes, as well as creating quality user experience people would pay for.

This is an interesting opinion. He is effectively arguing that the shift in paradigm to digital distribution of music was only possible via an illegal back door protoyping, that side stepped the complex IPR laws surrounding recording.

He notes that he sees other creative sectors going through similar changes. Publishing, and in particular academic publishing is one, and illegal filesharing is certianly something of an issue, be it a pheripheral one.

He also notes the change in attitude to DRM, which on-line music vendors have effectively now abandoned.

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