The Entertainment Industry's Century-Old Business Model

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How popular would Google be if you paid per search? Imagine it: you type in a search and “ding!” and you’re redirected to a page basically saying, “If you really want to see the search results, pay $2. Otherwise, forget about using Google.” The search engine would have been a complete flop because that business model is totally unsuited for the business. And yet, that is precisely what the entertainment industry is doing: continuing to try to apply an aging business model to a business which is radically different than it was a century ago when it emerged. Consider another example: your city is having a fireworks show tonight downtown, and they insist the show is copyrighted and charge $10 per viewer. Even if you weren’t interested in seeing the fireworks, you probably would look up at least periodically and see it from anyone in town, and inadvertently infringe copyright. Should you be sued? The entertainment industry sure would try! They sue for viewing material which is as easily copied and viewed as the cityscape sky. Rather than adopting their business model to maximize on technology’s incredible ability to distribute their products (say through placing advertisements in their movies or songs) they instead prefer to restrict its distribution and charge customers directly. Music and movie files are as easily distributed as radio and TV programs, so why not adapt their business model in the same way? Whether they like it or not, technology has changed our world: the entertainment industry needs to stop suing and start updating their century-old business plan.

One thought on “The Entertainment Industry's Century-Old Business Model

  1. Let me see if I understand your argument correctly.1) Music, video and other related media are now in formats as open as a cityscape in terms of public viewability2) This makes it difficult for artists, copyright holders and other concerned parties in the entertainment industry to control when and how their products are seen, viewed and distributed. Therefore, the entertainment industry should not try to control copyright the way they have done so traditionally. If I am misunderstanding your argument please correct me since, if I do not understand, everything else I am about to say probably has no point. Allow me to argue for a different situation that follows the same premises-to-conclusion progression as your argument. Let's say we live in a world where, previously, I had a lock on my front door preventing you from coming into my apartment, stealing my underwear and showing everyone how great it is to wear my underwear so that they too can wear my underwear. (We are also assuming that as with music and other entertainment, my underwear is something of interest to the public.)Now let's say that instead of having keys made out of metal, a new technological advance has made it possible for a key to be made out of a special compound that, when inserted into a lock, it can mold itself to precisely the shape needed to open that lock. It's a skeleton key. (I actually think this kind of thing is real, but that's irrelevant). So here is my argument:1) My underwear is now just as publicly accessible as a city park2) This makes it difficult for me to prevent who wears my underwear and when. Therefore, I should not try to control who wears my underwear and when. You might raise the objection that my underwear is a physical object that you take from me whereas digital media is not physically taken. I will respond by allowing you the possibility of, when you are finished wearing my underwear, laundering, folding and returning my underwear to my apartment. Therefore, my underwear has not really physically been stolen from me. The only thing that has been taken is my ability to control where my underwear goes. You may laugh at my comparison argument but it still shows the logical fallacy of yours, namely, an “ought vs. is” fallacy. You are arguing that because it IS the fact that digital media can be so easily distributed that there OUGHT NOT to be any attempts to control their distribution. Just because the situation IS the way it is does not mean that is the way it OUGHT to be. Hence the fallacy. You make no real argument for why things SHOULD be a certain way. I will concede you do make one argument for why the entertainment industry should not try to control copyright: It is an inappropriate business model for the technological times. On what basis do you make the claim that the business model is inappropriate? I think my previous argument can be applied to show that just because the business model can be circumvented does not necessarily mean it is inappropriate. So how do we judge the appropriateness of a business model? On it's financial success? If that's the case, then the entertainment industry, even though it is losing money to digital piracy, is still winning the battle. It is still a multi-billion dollar industry and they do win their lawsuits when they claim copyright infringement. So can you really say their business model is failing them?I eagerly await your reply.

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