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Summary:

The pitched war between content owners and technology companies doesn’t have to persist if media companies would acknowledge and adapt to the new realities of digital distribution, famed venture capitalist Fred Wilson told attendees at paidContent 2012.

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The pitched war between content owners and technology companies doesn’t have to persist if media companies would acknowledge and adapt to the new realities of digital distribution, said Fred Wilson, managing partner at Union Square Ventures. Speaking at the paidContent 2012 conference in New York, Wilson said the content companies that learn to adjust and embrace new distribution channels can keep the revenue flowing.

“I think those (traditional media) industries will survive and thrive, they just need to move from a fairly monopolistic distribution system to a wide open distribution system,” Wilson said.

He said while there are some examples of good collaboration between technology companies and progressive content owners, in most cases media companies fear the unfamiliar. But he said history continues to show that new technology — whether it’s radio, the VCR or iTunes — brings in new revenue. He predicts music subscription services will have the same effect.

In a perfect world, Wilson said he’d like to see a system similar to a DNS registry in which content owners would register their content and make it available with rules in exchange for copyright enforcement. That’s the fair compensation for society already enforcing the rights of copyright holders, he said.

“If we have rules for TV, films, music, books, games we’d see an explosion of innovation. All sorts of services and business models could get created,” he said.

If the media companies don’t adapt, tech companies and entrepreneurs are showing an increasingly willingness to create their own content. Wilson pointed to the original programing YouTube is commissioning. He said that could be where the next big media hit is.

“Some of those entrepreneurs will create fantastic content that will be very popular and we will see that become very profitable businesses. Maybe the next big media companies will be built that way,” Wilson said.

Check out the rest of our coverage of paidContent 2012. Full archived video on livestream (registration required).

  1. Brenda J. Walker Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    As someone who has straddled the tech/content line, the issue isn’t just a problem of media companies facing their fears. Technology companies also need a paradigm shift away from the tribalistic chants that slag media companies as backwards sharks who don’t get it. If you want to partner, then act like it.

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  2. “In a perfect world, Wilson said he’d like to see a system similar to a DNS registry in which content owners would register their content and make it available with rules in exchange for copyright enforcement. That’s the fair compensation for society already enforcing the rights of copyright holders, he said.”

    This is essentially the methodology proposed by the DECE with their UltraViolet project – ultimately, it’s registry of the content rights you bought (UltraViolet neither stores nor delivers any media assets). While there have been 2MM Ultraviolet consumer accounts created (a number that, in the grand scheme of things, is very small) the reality of the situation is that technological solutions to the business problem of universal distribution are often coming from the same mind set that envisioned a future of flying cars and meals in a pill. Brilliant, powerful solutions that are utterly unworkable at mass-market scale. Why? Because of the two most awesome forces of the internet, “Good Enough” and “Now.”

    If the experience I have is good enough and it works now or nearly now (maybe I install a plug-in or something) it’s got a good chance. You make me sign up for another account, install new software, what have you, it’s gotta be damn great and new (like Spotify great) to make it work or already connected to something I’m using (Netflix, Pandora).

    I think this leads AWAY from DNS-like “shared platform” solutions and toward a world where you pick four or five server-to-screen media platforms that “just work” without much thinking or doing (Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Pandora and Something Else) and that’s “good enough” even when “Brand X” is technically better.

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