Running notes from the LIFT07 conference in Geneva.
Panel on the "new economics of creation", including John Buckman, founder of Magnatune and member of the board of Creative Commons; Zhang Ga, curator of the China International New Media Arts Exhibition 2008; editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte (IHT and Le Temps) and Rodrigo Sepulveda, CEO of Vpod.tv, moderated by Philippe Mottaz of ViaDigitalis.
Chappatte - he's a friend and definitely the best editorial cartoonist in the world - starts off by describing the "state of the world" through cartoons (given the audience, many are about the impacts of technology in society). Here a few of those he showed:
Buckman talks about the music market, "how do you make money for musicians in a world where music is free?". "In the Western world, people are angry at the music industry, they see it as an evil thing": the choice of music in stores is limited; classical music is disappearing from stores (yet the audience is not); CDs cost about 80 cents to manufacture and yet they are extremely expensive to buy; and DRM forbids owners of music that they have legally purchased to do what they want with it. No surprise people hope the music industry goes down. The problem is that a lot of culture would go down with it. He describes the Magnatune approach - legal music downloads, users can listen previews for free, when buying they can choose what kind of music license they want to buy for what kind of usage, Creative Commons licenses, etc. Clarifies that recently the music industry's approach has changed: "they used to sue everyone, now they work with YouTube and others".
Sepulveda: Vpod stands for "video-publishing on demand". 2006 saw a huge explosion of video online. There is a paradigm shift taking place: time-shifting, device-shifting, place-shifting (from broadcast TV to online platforms). He shows a screenshots of YouTube and asks: is this what Internet video should be? No. It's small. It requires alot of attention. It's crowded. Creating and distributing video online is a pain (creation/editing, sharing/publication, search, modeation, syndicatio/monetization, not to mention the whole infrastructure). Vpod.tv claims to connect any video source to any screen (web, portable media player, mobile, TV set top boxes, wireless frames, virtual worlds like Second Life, and widgets) in a couple of clicks.
The moderator contradicts him: if I've a bit of talent, why would I give my video to Vpod? "We do 50/50 revenue sharing with the content creator". "There is this huge collective fantasy that everybody is going to make money with online content: but online advertising is counted by the views; only some gifted or lucky people will be making serious money, the rest will be divided among many people".
The moderator brings up the idea of "fair culture", parallel to the "fair trade" concept.
Philippe Tarbouriech, a photographer in the audience, says he uses Flickr, which gives him exposure, and explains an unexpected effect : the network of users functions as a "copyright control" mechanism: "people I didn't know e-mailed me to congratulate because one of my pictures was being used by American Express (the pict at right), and I didn't know about it, they sent me screenshots which I would probably never seen otherwise because it was mostly circulating in NY, and I could contact AmEx and get paid".