– B. Businesses
B. Businesses Attempt to Maximize Availability and Revenue
Media organizations – content creators, distributors, rights holders and associations – have also taken numerous steps to address issues related to privacy, intellectual property and piracy, and freedom of expression. Media companies walk a fine line between needing to maximize exposure and access to content for revenue generation, and vigorously defending intellectual property rights.
Business model and technology innovations
- UltraViolet: The film industry has been the primary supporter of this wholesale platform, which allows users to pay once for content such as movies, and then play the content on any UltraViolet-capable device. Six users can share an account, with a cap of 12 devices per account. The objective is to take away the desire to make illegal copies of digital media by allowing users to share content across devices and take the friction out of watching movies on digital equipment. UltraViolet attracted more than 750,000 households in its first three months, although initially there were only 19 titles available. As of July 2012, UltraViolet surpassed 4 million household accounts.
- Piano Media: Based in Slovakia, Piano Media protects intellectual property rights for the news media by enabling publishers to monetize selected Web content. Readers receive unlimited access to all participating publications, similar to cable-TV package distribution, for a flat fee. Digital reader payments are split between publications according to where a digital reader enrols in the Piano Media system, how much time is spent on each publisher’s site, and the type of content consumed. The model has been successful in Slovakia and Slovenia, and the company plans to expand to other European countries. Founded in 2011, it has received US$ 3 million in funding from Cisco and Monogram Ventures. In Slovakia and Poland, Piano Media partners with eight major publishers, and in Poland they have a tie-up with seven major publishers for a total of 42 brands and publications.
- YouTube’s Content ID: In an effort to protect copyright holders, Google and YouTube launched a Content ID system that allows rights holders to upload the videos and music they own to a central “fingerprint” database. A copyright verification tool can then assist copyright owners in searching for infringing material. There are currently over 25,000 rights holders participating in the programme including online media content providers such as Lions Gate, Electronic Arts, Universal Music, Time Warner, Viacom, Disney and CBS. When owners identify infringing material, they can exclude it, allow the content to reside on YouTube for promotional purposes, or license the content for share in revenue gained through advertising. Alleged infringers can dispute the finding as well. There are more than 8 million reference files in the Content ID database, making it one of the most comprehensive in the world, and over a third of YouTube’s total monetized views come from Content ID. However, a lack of copyright verification procedures continues to be a stumbling block. YouTube Content ID routinely generates mismatches and allows fraudsters who do not own copyrights to position themselves on the service as if they do hold rights, leading to unresolved disagreements and blocking of content. Content ID is also incapable of recognizing fair use content such as parodies.
- Association-led –Music Matters campaign: Music Matters is an educational campaign launched in the United Kingdom in 2010 to change attitudes to music piracy and uncompensated file-sharing. The campaign enjoys the backing of Spotify, retailers Amazon, HMV and Tesco, and some artistes. The campaign is ongoing and involves stakeholders across the media value chain, but tangible and measurable impact of the initiative has not been reported.
- Company-led campaigns: This is a joint initiative from Sony Music and Modelo Brewery which offers free and legal downloadable music through www.siguetumusica.com. To gain access, users enter a code found in Corona bottle caps. The purpose of the campaign is to educate users on legal ways to access music and help them avoid using illegal downloads. Corona Music advertises on popular radio stations, on the Internet and on music-dedicated TV channels. During its first 6 months, the website registered over 9 million downloads and 13 million online visitors. Another company-led campaign is Google’s “Dashboard.” It answers the question, “What does Google store in a person’s account?” by summarizing and aggregating data for every Google product the person uses, and provides direct links for easier control of personal settings and data.
Viacom filed a lawsuit against Google and YouTube in 2007, alleging brazen copyright infringement as the sites allow users to upload and view copyrighted material owned by Viacom. More specifically, Viacom claimed that YouTube’s strategy was to “engage in, promote, and induce” ongoing infringement, and that YouTube had deliberately built up a library of infringing works in order to increase the site’s traffic (and advertising revenue). The suit is in its fifth year and may result in two different interpretations of the DMCA’s safe harbour provisions – a discordance that may ultimately be resolved by the US Supreme Court. Google has secured the support of tech businesses and non-profits (eBay, Facebook, Yahoo!, Human Rights Watch and Consumers Union all filed amicus briefs) while Viacom’s position is supported by media firms and content creators (the United Kingdom’s Premier League, the Associated Press, Gannett Co., the National Football League, and musicians Garth Brooks, Sting and the Eagles). In April 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated and remanded Viacom’s US$ 1 billion lawsuit against YouTube for direct and secondary copyright infringement.
Related to mass litigation was an RIAA-backed “amnesty” programme called “Clean Slate” where people who self-identified themselves as using illegal downloads would be granted a clean slate and not subjected to litigation. However, only 1,108 people signed up for amnesty, and the Clean Slate programme itself was criticized as a fraudulent business practice that required relinquishment of privacy rights. It was discontinued after RIAA concluded that public awareness about the illegality of downloading infringing materials had increased sufficiently.