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The problem of digital content

The problem is… who owns it and what is it worth?

“This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.”

(Via Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others – Pogue’s Posts Blog – NYTimes.com)

The traditional media industry will be totally remade in the next ten years. Every major creative industry (music, movies and tv, words) is going to have to come to grips with what it is that they are really selling (or what it is that people are really interested in buying.)

In fact, it’s not only the traditional media companies that are being put through the blender, but also all of the pipe providers: comcast, Mark Cuban, Qwest, Verizon, AT&T, etc are going to have to come to grips with what they are really selling: Bits.

What is Amazon selling? Bits.

What are newspapers, magazines, albums, movies, sitcoms and books? Bits.

Does the value of the bits change depending on what they can be decoded in to?

What is the revenue to be made from making 1 more digital copy of something?

What is the incentive for people to create something that can be copied, if they aren’t compensated for every copy?

This is a big swirling topic, but I find it incredibly interesting. I’m confronted with this on a daily basis when it comes to student work, teacher use of copyrighted material, and my own media-consuming habits.

The two (copyrighted) books I purchased:

Free
by Chris Anderson (“In the digital marketplace, the most effective price is no price at all, argues Anderson”) and Remix
by Lawerence Lessig (“He frames the problem as a war between an old read-only culture, in which media megaliths sell copyrighted music and movies to passive consumers, and a dawning digital read-write culture, in which audiovisual products are freely downloaded and manipulated in an explosion of democratized creativity.”)

Categories: internet, Media.

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