Saturday, April 14, 2007

Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt. Soon For Free!

Google's punch-bag ritual recurs, lately with Viacom, suing them for a nominal $1 Billion. But there's no escape for the media makers. In the future, content will be free. We will pay only for the experience.

Copyright laws evolved to answer the need of the creators to have ownership over their creation, and the power to decide with whom to share it. Without copyright laws, anyone who had made an effort to create something, would immediately lose any grip of his creation, which will soon demoralize all the creators, and our society would have been non creative at all. Copyright laws are the incentives for creators to keep creating.

But our society has grown. The digital age allows easy and fast digitization and duplication (= plagiarism) of almost any kind of creation, copyrighted or not. This means two things:

  1. It's harder to enforce copyright laws

  2. The society expects free and mass media

All the lawsuits, starting with the huge one against napster in 2000, are an ongoing endeavor of the media makers against high-tech companies that promote digitization and duplication of the media created by or published by the former. Viacom's lawsuit against Google's YouTube in 2007 is the latest one. As the digital age is gaining pace, it gets harder and harder to enforce copyright laws, and so the first point of the two is maximizing.

As for the second point, it's no secret that we all love the easiness of downloading clips from YouTube and MetaCafe, downloading complete music albums and full length movies from P2P networks, or just getting a burnt DVD copy from our friends. Point 2 is maximizing as well.

The unavoidable conclusion, is that content and media are doomed to be given to the public for free. No copyrights, just massive duplications. Is that fair? Will the creators lose their incentives and stop creating? I believe not. We WILL pay, as we already are paying, for the experience or the service (or both).

If you had the option to pay a yearly subscription fee of $49 to watch up to 10 full length theatre movies, in your own living room, would you subscribe? Newsflash: you already are! Aren't you paying a monthly fee to your satellite/cable television service provider? You are. Do they broadcast theatrical movies? They do. You're actually paying for the convenience of choosing which movie to watch, when, and in the comfort of your living room. Not for the film itself.

So what will the future look like?

  • We will pay YouTube for watching premium clips. We're actually doing this already, well, those of us who click ads and end up buying something. They pay for the rest of us.

  • We will pay for our music downloads, probably per minute or per Megabyte, and we'll be able to download complete music albums. Apple is already going in this direction.

  • Photographers will sell their arts through websites, as a service: pay A LOT for the print and delivery, and get full access to all their media.

To sum up, intellectual property is under a huge legal debate these days. But socially speaking, the television model, by which we pay a monthly/annual fee for unlimited content, will make its way to the rest of the digital media. All these lawsuits will go weaker and weaker.