Online Video Rights: Why Technology Isn’t Enough to Bring About Change

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This morning’s Video Rights Roundtable was, as we hoped, a rare opportunity for online video industry players to talk about their conflicts and collaborations in the wild — not in a courtroom or conference room. In a (more than) two-hour discussion, the nearly 50 attendees shared their perspectives on the increasingly complex world of rights, responsibility and opportunities surrounding online video content. Complete liveblog coverage is available at GigaOM Pro (subscription required), and Ryan Lawler was on-site with some additional event coverage at NewTeeVee. More links below the fold (and full event video coming soon!).

  • In Round One, Ethan Applen, director of technology and business strategy for Warner Bros., talked about copyright enforcement as video content shifts online. While the DVD business was threatened by the emergence of digital piracy, he said that online distribution is even more vulnerable. To approach the problem, he said, the first line of defense is to make illegal consumption of content online more difficult. “That’s what we need to tackle,” he added (subscription required).

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Unfortunately, not much recourse. If someone in China gets a hold of your DVD and they upload, there’s not much the average person can do. You would need a team of corporate lawyers to chase after all the overseas websites. Business monkeys in New Media can talk about copyright infringement all they want, and none of it will result in a solution. What’s digital fingerprinting going to do? You can’t control or lay out laws in China. Whatever fingerprint proof they come up with will be useless. How much do they think it will cost to chase after ten guys spread out across China?

To avoid piracy in today’s political environment, you would have to either not show the material at all or not release a hard copy/DVD. This is a problem that will never go away. The studios would have to lock the internet in the way broadcast and cable is restricted. I have to admit, it looks almost sad when these folks get together using their company’s expense accounts, eat at 5-star restaurants, and then sit in a round table trying to resolve problems they cannot solve.

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