Wednesday, June 20, 2007

what the industry thinks

For the most part, I haven't really gotten any feedback from within the content industries. I wonder if I will, now that the book is out. I did recenly get an invite from Microsoft to speak in their seminar series this fall, so that's promising. This is also a curious aspect of the book process: I feel like I've been working on this topic forever, but in the eyes of those who don't happen to read academic journals, i.e. nearly everyone, I seem like a newcomer to this topic. So even when I have encountered representatives from those industries at conferences, I've yet to be in a position of enough prominence where they'd hear my take on things.

The impression I've gotten from sidelong encounters is that there is a public face that most representatives of the majors will maintain. In that mode, I don't expect that my argument will seem to them like anything other than the "copyright minimalist" perspective they've positioned themelves to withstand. I'm looking forward to being in a position where I can hear the backstage talk, where industry reps acknowledge how things are actually going. It seems like that admission is getting closer to the surface: EMI's move to drop DRM on digital downloads, Bill Gates expressing reservations about the DRM strategy, etc. But for the moment, there still seems to be a relatively coherent and hermetically sealed set of talking points.

I'm also curious to get beyond the majors. They have been such prominent figures in the debate, they tend to draw most of the attention. There's much more variety of opinion when you talk to independent music labels, startup music services, journalists, archivists, mashup artists, nonprofit publishers. There is some real work to be done, and I didn't do it in the book, of mapping out the much richer picture of how this issue plays in the network of creators, content providers, distributors, and re-users, of different scales and of varying business models. An excellent example of this is Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi's "best practices" project with documentary filmmakers and their fair use needs.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Just to say that in catching up with this ongoing discussion, I'd like to second the notion that in addition to the majors, there is a whole counterculture of indie publishing in music,art,elsewhere--I spent part of yesterday listening to some really firstrate pop music coming to me from MySpace. In a way, this seems almost more interesting to me as a topic, than the instutionalized corporate viewpoint, though probably one would not exist without the other.

I'm getting interested in what I have begun to learn is a stream of digital utopianism. There's an ongoing tension in new technologies over the centuries, it seems to me, between the institutional and the contrarian.

That's my grad-student take on this. Keep up the advice to the newbies, I'm already benefitting from the suggestions about how to deal with the legal aspects, which I have been wondering about!