Should we pay attention to music and DRM?

Shelly Palmer offers a powerful argument that the DRM lessening that we’re hearing about in the music industry won’t impact video in the same way, at least not in the short term. His reason centers around the difference between how music files and video files are used, the former having just one value chain and the latter offering many. There’s a lot of concern from the video business (from Hollywood to New York) that it will follow the music industry down the slippery slope of south-bound profits, and Shelly brilliantly suggests that this is not the case.

I like Shelly, and he’s generally spot-on with his analysis. This one is no exception, and I have just one little disagreement.

His reasoning includes the argument that video files are far bigger than audio files, and this is one of the reasons we (those of us in the video business) shouldn’t be concerned. That’s true, especially for full-length movie consumption. But in the world of clips and portions of clips, it isn’t the case. Besides, the illegal use of copyrighted videos lives in the world of FTP (file transfer protocol) and P2P networks, where size doesn’t matter nearly as much as emailing or other forms of sharing.

I’m one of those people who believes we need to pay attention to the music business, but not so much as a downer but as to what’s happening on its long tail. This is the new value chain of music consumption, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be the same with video.

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