Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Does The Entertainment Industry Seek To Kill Any Innovation That's Helping It Adapt? | Techdirt

Why Does The Entertainment Industry Seek To Kill Any Innovation That's Helping It Adapt?

from the it's-all-about-control dept

The LA Times recently had a good article about Hulu's struggles with its corporate parents, the various TV companies. While Hulu itself has been massively successful, the TV companies are suddenly claiming it's a threat (even though they own it) and are seeking to cripple the service in a misguided and shortsighted bid to "protect" their legacy offerings.

Combine that with our recent story about the record labels crippling Spotify and the Hollywood studios seeking to cripple Netflix, and you've got a pattern. Any time a new service comes along that helps drag the content industries into the present, the industry's hit back by trying to kill off or cripple the golden goose.

The simplistic answer is that the entertainment industry is all about control, and they freak out about these success stories (that make them money) because they realize they're losing control. I think it's a little more complex than that, but not too much. The established entertainment business, for many, many years, has operated under the principle of being the gatekeeper to their industry. They've (incorrectly) believed that their value and the key to their business is in being the gatekeeper. But the amazing thing about the internet is that it knocks down fences and walls with ease.

Gatekeepers don't make much sense.

If you view yourself as an enabler, then these new services seem great and wonderful and a huge opportunity. If you see yourself as a gatekeeper, you see these other services as a path to route around your gate. The mistake is in thinking that the answer is to shut down or limit that alternative. That's because, the alternatives (generally) are not really gatekeepers themselves. Of course, to the existing gatekeepers they look like gatekeepers, which leads to this reaction. But the reality is quite different. In a world where there are no real walls or fences, you don't need gates, and thus you don't need gatekeepers.

Instead, you need enablers: the curators, aggregators and filters who help you make sense of the wide open world. That's what Spotify, Hulu and Netflix all do, in a legal fashion. But it's also what various unauthorized sites and services do in an often less than legal fashion. But none of that changes the fact that the gates are no longer needed and the fences are down. Spotify, Hulu and Netflix aren't the new gatekeepers. They're compelling enablers who have built the new hotspot that people want to go to, because of the additional value they provide. Knocking them down doesn't bring back the need for the gates. Those are gone forever. It just takes away one of the more useful services -- which actually does pay the copyright holders -- and drives people to the many other (perhaps unauthorized) sources.

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