Tuesday 26 July 2011

Darren Olivier

In the context of recent announcements by Spotify and Netflix, Plagiarism Today contains an interesting post on how content creators and technology companies can collaborate effectively to fight against music piracy. Spotify is tipped to turn the tables on ITunes and Netflix provides online video rental and streaming services.

"What Spotify, in particular the divide between it and Netflix, shows is that copyright holders can compete with pirated copies of their content. However, doing that does require a great deal of work."

"In the end, this is where the marriage of content creators and technology firms has to happen. Content creators have to make things people want to see or listen to and tech companies need to get it into the user’s hands with enough features and convenience to make it worth paying for.

For this to work, both sides need to hold up their end of the bargain. With Netflix, content creators need to make sure their work is accessible at a reasonable price and Netflix needs to take ownership over its PR and interface issues.

If the two sides worth together, some amazing things can happen and piracy can become, at most, a back burner issue.

If they don’t, then piracy isn’t going anywhere and neither side will reap any benefit from the works that have been created."

How does this analyis work in Africa, that by population number, dwarfs the USA and on a continent where piracy, especially music piracy, is rife? Quite well it seems.

Neither Netflix nor Spotify are available in Africa but, of course, content creators and pirates (not the ones pillaging on the East coast) are. In other words, the failure to make their content available on the continent is why online piracy will continue. However, making it available means making it available at a reasonable price - in all probability "convenience and features" are likely to be less important than price to most African customers. Doing that would mean subsidization from somewhere and unless governments get involved, that would mean higher prices elsewhere giving an upper hand to pirates in those countries. Nobody said this was easy.

This blog is awash with stories about counterfeits; indeed probably Africa's single biggest IP related problem. The solution is complex and involves a multiple-faceted approach from improvements in the legal and enforcement framework to education and IP owner and government realisation and responsibilities. A big problem remains desire. Africa is still a tiny and probably insignificant market for many IP owners. Tipped, as it may be, as the "last frontier", the reality is that in recessionary times speculative expenditure on new markets dries up and so does the desire. Even allure of over 1 billion potential customers becomes a difficult sell. So, while Netflix and Spotify define new landscapes in the way we all enjoy music and videos, they need help.

- Posted by Darren

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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