Monday, September 5, 2011

The dawn of a new era in media

The provisions of section 92A of the NZ Copyright Act came into force this month and serve to highlight the huge void between consumer demand and supplier delivery in the world of audio and video media.

On the one side, we have an antiquated business model that expects to be able to control in minute detail, exactly how, where, when and for exactly how much their product is sold around the world.

On the other, we have a tech-savvy audience who are not prepared to wait any longer than absolutely necessary or to pay any more than they have to in order to listen to or view the music, movies or TV programmes of their choice.

Personally, I think this law is a futile attempt to try and stop people from adapting to the way the Net empowers them to sidestep the tarnished and outdated distribution methods of the past.

With the appearance of IP-ready TV sets in ever-increasing numbers and the proliferation of IP-based set-top boxes, consumers are already gearing up for the new era in media distribution and, unfortunately for the old "stick in the mud" wrinklies who are presently running the media empires, it's adapt or die.

Even the most draconian of laws will have no effect if the public chose to disregard it in large numbers -- as will increasingly be the case.

Right now, there are a good number of people who use P2P networks to illegally download movies, TV shows and music and, despite the best efforts of the publishers and legislators, I see this number increasing rather than decreasing.

When regular TV viewers tire of the same old repeats, encore screenings and "classic revues" of the same boring oft-seen material, they'll power up their IP connection and seek out more interesting, entertaining and up-to-date content. Inevitably, some of that will involve illegally accessing material that is available via the internet.

Look for a massive boost in the popularity of anonymising proxy-servers which will give Kiwis and others outside the USA, direct access to the content on sites such as NetFlix and Hulu -- despite the most determined efforts of content publishers to quarantine content by region.

Look for new methods of distributing such content to appear online. Perhaps "drop-boxes" on anonymous servers or even public file-sharing sites, with access and decrypting details being distributed by secure email amongst approved lists of friends and associates.

If the publishers think they can keep their old model rolling much longer they are simply deluding themselves.

I'm betting that within the next five years, the whole planet will have, for the purposes of media distribution, become a single market and the Net will be one of the primary conduits.

Prepare for a paradigm change! It's coming whether the media moguls want it or not.

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