Friday, May 8, 2009

The future of digital content

At this point in time, the Internet is the Wild West of entertainment. Anything goes. There are no real rules to speak of. Anyone with a computer can download any book, magazine, newspaper, software, movie, song, album, TV show, etc. in any quality they want for free. While it's not completely obvious about how to do this, especially for the non-tech savvy laymen and laywomen, anyone willing to put a little time into it can figure out how to get whatever they want pretty quickly. This is a major problem for media creators, distributors, and, yes, consumers, even the ones downloading illegally.

Content owners have no way of policing the Internet for copyright infringement. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) don't either. So, how are the the content owners and creators going to get paid for their work so that they can continue creating/distibuting content if anyone can get everything for free right now? As I see it, there is really only one way: Everyone pays a little. All the digital content owners and creators, from the big guys to the individuals, are going to have to come together with ISPs, world leaders, and consumers in order to come up with a fair way of charging everyone with an Internet connection some small amount, which then gets distributed amongst the content owners and distributors, again, in some fair way. In exchange for this fee, the consumers get to download/keep/stream/redistribute anything and everything out there, sort of like an unlimited Netflix/iTunes/Kindle subscription. We would have powerful devices in our home hooked up to our TVs/stereos, and handheld devices for the road that are capable of accessing every digital anything ever. Storage shouldn't be an issue either, because eventually we'll all be streaming everything live. Imagine if you lost your iPod. Yeah, you'd have to buy another one, but you'd never lose any content. It's always all there. In the clouds.

Unless we all come together to discuss a solution like this, then we'll soon be forced to realize the hard truth that no one is going to get paid what they deserve for the content that they've created.