Feeds

How to fix the broken internet economy: START HERE

Tech and copyright – it's time to work together

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

What can we do? What can you do?

As I said earlier, there's plenty of blame to go round. How can we realign the players in an internet economy that has gone so badly off the rails?

Well, maybe you can help here. The answer looks both simple and complicated. The simple thing is to get both sides focussed on making money, rather than lobbying. The mutual interests have to be pointing in the same direction. This is easier said than done. The complicated thing in this era of fiscal austerity and negative growth is getting people spending money to kickstart the process.

On the prickly subject of piracy, legislators would rather the two sides sat down and made the problem go away through mutual cooperation.

Lawmakers attempting to draft decent, workable rights enforcement provisions can reliably count on the "Just Say No" camp of copyright activists to say "No to Anything" - like we saw with the defeated Stop Online Piracy Act.

This is actually a pity, because there are reasonable and just enforcement measures, worse ones, and really bad ones. But to a dogmatic copyright activist, all are equally bad. To a legislator who simply wants to do the right thing, this is no help at all.

My modest offering is this. If we want to look where value can be created (a euphemism for "punters happily parting with their money") we should look at what is inconvenient and impossible to do on the internet today.

This can be fixed by introducing some flexible value recognition system that can be bundled with other goods. For example, ISPs could bundle tokens you can spend on the music and movie services of your choice. You could top up anywhere at any time. It ought to be universally redeemable.

Another inconvenience is playing music. There's really no open, interoperable standard for taking songs on a mobile phone and playing them wirelessly on any speaker – whether it's in a rented car, an office or a friend's house. You have to faff around with Wi-Fi passwords and then you can bet those speakers won't be connected to tech compatible with your handset. Another market misalignment, another opportunity for technology-copyright partnership.

And there's categories of music goods that haven't been invented yet: books that play music, for example.

(In Carrier's report, an interviewed "entrepreneur" claims that "it's actually impossible to run a fully legal music service". This is utter tripe. The UK has more than 70 - including Spotify. The problem is not that it's impossible, but that the services don't reflect their value. Spotify is both too expensive and too cheap at the same time.)

I suspect money is the key, though. Facebook already has Facebook Credits - which you can only use inside the Facebook plantation. It's up to the creative industries to create and jointly own something better - a flexible payment system and platform - to unlock some of that value. They can hardly complain when somebody else builds one, people use it, and they're gouged for 30 per cent (hello, Apple and Amazon).

For its part, Google has much to offer too – it can build these platforms. The problem is that Google's DNA and historical baggage make this extremely difficult today. Google has rowed itself out to sea and on to Freetard Island.

Google can't unlock its own value without copyright – but its mindset, its Weltanschauung now holds it back. Shareholders are traditionally the key here to nudging a company towards greater growth. Google's current corporate governance structure makes it difficult to change - it's one of the least transparent, least accountable companies on the planet. But anyone looking at the Nexus Q ball will surely conclude, independently, that Google needs a new CEO.

At times the lack of courage of both sides in the content and technology industries makes you wish a plague on them all. But that ultimately leaves future generations much poorer, and is a victory for cynicism. We need to push them to get back to what they're good at - based on the ground rules we know work.

And by the way, about that Unicorn?

It doesn't exist. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.