Image by stevegarfield via FlickrIt's an understatement to say that digital publishing causes concerns for traditional publishers. Having a digital version of media available -- regardless of who did the digitizing -- effectively eliminates the control of distribution. Digital files are inherently copyable and sharable, and any business model that relies on the prevention of digital files being copied is doomed to fail.
A much better expenditure of energy is answering this question: what new methods of compensation can be created that allows monies to flow to the rights-holders? Take the case of R&B star Chris Brown. His song "Forever" was the inspiration behind the Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz's wedding party video that has had over 14 million views on YouTube -- so far. Chris received no direct compensation for these plays, as he would have had they been played on MTV, radio or other "traditional" distribution venues that pay into various clearinghouses and ultimately compensate rights-holders for airtime.
Not long ago, Chris' (or more likely the label that owns the rights to the song) only recourse would have been to exercise his copyright and demand YouTube take down the offending video. Yes, there could also have been a suit filed against the couple due to copyright infringement. It's been done before. But that's not what happened.
Instead, Chris (or his label) was able to monetize the views on YouTube, thanks to some innovative thinking on the part of YouTube. You can read about the short case study here. Is this the be-all-end-all solution? Nope. But it's smart. And it shows a new type of thinking that embraces the digital work, rather than attempting to shut down a Good Thing.
Let creative people create. Let rights-holders monetize those creations. Seems a win-win to me. What do you think?
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