The dirty secret of Copyright Laws

Dana Blankenhorn writes a very good comment on Roy Disney's recent resignation from the board of the Walt Disney Company and the future of copyright laws:
"(...) By making Mickey's property rights virtually immortal, Michael Eisner made the past more valuable than the future. So he milked the past, and milked it and milked it. But even for Disney that process became self-defeating. What worked in the short term became failure in the long term, and the long term always comes. (...) When the founders made copyright a limited right, granted by Congress for a limited time, they were, as always, brilliant. When we perverted their creation, through the Bono Act and the DMCA, we made the past more important than the future, stifling our childrens' creativity (because they can't use copyrighted material for new creations) in the process. We must build on the past, not use it against the future. We must roll back the Bono Act, add to the public domain, and (while we're at it) put fair use back into the DMCA. (...)"
Nothing to add...
Read More

Free eBook from Seth Godin on optimizing websites

Seth Godin is a little bit sad:
"Amazon cajoled me into writing a free ebook for them, then they forgot to promote it. Sigh."
So let's help him out:
"The 35-page e-book called Fixing Micah's Site, contains the give-and-take of Seth and his friend Micah, the nation's leading duplicator of CDs for independent musicians. It focuses on how to make Web sites work better, how to create a revenue engine that allows you to grow, and how to profitably use adwords and other sorts of online media to build your business."
The eBook can be downloaded here (as PDF). And it's just the first one of a new series. So there is more to come. Interesting !
Read More

Apple's iTunes Music Store becomes an interesting Marketing Plattform

Apple integrated a few new payment features into the back end of their iTunes Music Store last week. Now things like allowances or gift certificates are available. But they also make it possible to use iTunes songs as incentives for marketing campaigns. The first company to use this new feature will be Pepsi. During the Superbowl on Feb 1, they will kick off a huge campaign which will promote their products and iTunes at the same time (Article from Reuters):
"Special codes that can be used to redeem a free track through iTunes will be contained in bottle caps of 20-ounce and 1-liter bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist. In all, 300 million Pepsi bottles will be wrapped with special iTunes packaging. Only 100 million bottles will contain redeemable codes. "This historic promotion to legally give away 100 million free songs will go down in history as igniting the legal download market," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. Pepsi reportedly will pay Apple for each of the songs downloaded during the promotion."
Steve Jobs also covered the campaign in his keynote speech last week (a Quicktime movie is available here, the Pepsi presentation starts after 50:27 minutes). Using digital items, like downloadable music, as incentives for these kind of sales promotion activities is a clearly no-brainer. Here in Germany, Coca-Cola tried it last summer with polyphonic ringtones and it was quite a success...
Read More

Hell froze over: iTunes for Windows now available !

Apple today released the "best Windows App ever": iTunes for Windows is ready for download !! Well, I'm happy that those poor windows users are now able to feel a little bit of the warmth of the Mac experience. I really am !! ;-) But at the same time, it is really sad, that the European music industry is still not getting their act together. Why can't they give the green light to the iTunes Music Store in Europe ?? Hey Guys, I am ready to spend some serious money !! Okay, just Euros not Dollars... But still better than keeping eDonkey & Kazaa busy, right ?
Read More

Handypay: Jamba will offer a new Mobile-based Micro-payment system

The German mobile portal Jamba is about to launch a new and very interesting micro-payment service called Handypay (see the Press release here - in German). The system will use mobile headsets for authorization: the customer has to enter his mobile phone number into a merchant's website. He then receives a SMS-message with a unique PIN for this specific transaction. After entering the PIN successfully the specified amount (up to 10 Euro per transaction) will be charged to the regular phone bill. What makes Handypay so interesting is the fact that nearly all German mobile phone companies have already agreed to support it. The carriers will take care of credit assessment and the handling of payments - so people don't have to register with Handypay to use the service. According to the press release, Handypay will launch in November with 120 German ecommerce-sites. Unfortunately, the available information doesn't say anything about the minimum amount which will be possible to be charged or the fees that merchants will have to pay for offering this payment-method.
Read More

Red Herring comes back into life !

The Red Herring gets online again and is hopefully here to stay:
"At Red Herring , we are here to take a closer look at the people and companies that are taking wing and pushing the edge of technology-driven innovation. Our editorial focus takes a deeper look at how businesses from Boston to Bangalore are reshaping the world and using smart ideas for competitive advantage. We are here to focus not just on the dreamers, but the doers."
Welcome back !
Read More

Operation Successful, Patient Dying

In June the RIAA started to sue people for sharing illegal music files in order to spread fear and suppress filesharing. Now there is an interesting article in Macworld UK about the effects of this action (via Dana Blankenhorn): According to Phil Leigh, vice president of Raymond James and Associates, there was a 22 per cent drop in peer-to-peer file trading activity between mid-June and late August. That's certainly something the RIAA loves to hear. But their new medicine comes with some rather unpleasant side effects:
"From June 15 to August 3, CD sales dropped by 9.4 per cent. However, on June 15, CD sales were down only 6.1 per cent year-to-date. The increase in the rate of decline (from 6.1 to 9.4 per cent) translates to acceleration in the rate of decline," he claims. Leigh admits that a seven-week measurement cannot be seen as conclusive, as other factors, such as holidays, quantity and quality of releases, can affect such figures. But the analyst isn't optimistic: "The initial data is not encouraging for the labels as it suggests that the fundamental premise underlying their deterrence strategy is flawed. Specifically, curtailing file trading may not improve CD sales, but instead may accelerate their decline."
This just confirms the obvious: fear is not a very efficient marketing tool ! You can scare people away from Kazaa et al., but you cannot scare someone to become your customer and buy your products - okay, the mafia might, but not the music industry... so there still are some differences between these two... ;-) Anyway, this will most certainly not keep the media companies from digging their own graves and that's actually a good thing ! When established players in a free market economy refuse to adapt to a changing market this creates great opportunities for new entrants. Take for example the iTunes Music Store. Right now they are just a new distribution channel for the big music companies and this draws a lot of criticism. But I think that is unfair: Apple has to cooperate with them if they want to be able to sell the music people want to hear - at least initially. But as soon as they have acquired a strong customer base, they can slowly start to cut out the then obsolete middle man and sell the music directly from the artist to the audience. If everything works well, more artists will get more money, while the fans will have to pay less. Everyone will be happy except you know who ! Okay, that sounds like pure theory and it probably won't be that easy. But I am confident that in the end, the market will teach the RIAA that "Creative Destruction" isn't just an academic expression and that will be good for all of us...
Read More