Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Controlling Content

Some discussion from DevHawk and Scoble around owning/renting music.

One problem I experience around rental is the anxiety of non-ownership.

. What if the content provider wants to charge a much higher rental for my favourite content?
. Do I have to pay content providers whenever I upgrade media?
. What if the content provider restricts the media on which this content is available? (For example, forcing me to use a more expensive or less flexible format.)
. What if the content provider forces me to upgrade to a new version when I prefer the old version? (For example, I understand that Mike Oldfield regrets the haste with which the original version of Tubular Bells was produced, and would probably prefer us all to listen to the new perfectly engineered version. For my part, I prefer the original version.)

Scoble comments that most music isn't worth owning. Of course that's true. Some people like to listen to the same rubbish over and over, while others prefer a constant stream of new material (within a predefined genre). There are loads of radio stations that can satisfy both sets of people. (See my previous post on Shuffle).

Of course, these risks don't only apply to music. I have lost track of several large repositories of useful material on the Internet. Have they been renamed/relocated, merged into something else, disappeared behind a subscription barrier, or taken down altogether? Perhaps I should have kept copies of some of the papers?

Conversely, there is some content I'd prefer not to manage. Lots of fiction isn't worth reading more than once, so why do I keep so many novels?

These are important questions in a service economy - the control and governance of the service and its content. Service dependencies result in business dependencies; so service reliability/durability has an important bearing upon business risk. In some contexts, we may need some kind of service/content escrow to protect the consumer.

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