Posts in Category "Creators’ rights"

Balancing diverse needs

Some heat around video features today… browser vendors’ VIDEO plans don’t include a doorlock, and rebuttal… not all content providers can afford to provide for less-capable audiences, and rebuttals.

Made me think of a quote from Adobe co-founder Charles Geschke a few years ago, at a Kendall Whitehouse interview for Knowledge@Wharton:

One of the things I talk a lot about is the necessity to juggle all of the constituencies that have an interest in the business: shareholders, customers, employees, vendors, and the communities in which we operate. Those constituencies are all mildly in conflict with one another in terms of what’s best for them. Your job as a leader in a company is to find an appropriate way to juggle those conflicting interests so everybody feels like they’re getting a fair deal, without letting any one dominate the others because they’ll drag your company down.

Sustainable technological solutions work for more people… balancing the needs of consumers, AND creators, AND investors, AND all the other diverse groups which are affected. If any constituency feels slighted or oppressed, then things won’t move forward as easily.

Asking video creators to create multiple interfaces for intentionally-hobbled devices, or telling creators that they can’t even install a lock on their front door… that’s as unfriendly as saying “use another browser” or “install this new plugin to watch” would be to consumers. Finding solutions which work for diverse groups is harder, but, in the long run, more fun.

Development models, business models

This morning I’ve been reading reaction to Robert Scoble’s post “iPhone developers abandoning app model for HTML5?” He interviewed a development shop which prefers delivering to iPhone via webpages than through Apple’s store.

The title reads strangely to me… it seems to be comparing a business path with a development path, and then implicitly generalizing the iPhone’s particular “HTML5″ implementation to all WWW browsers’ HTML implementations. This double ambiguity accounts for the divergence in subsequent commentary.

The “app model” in the title refers to using the iPhone’s native code system for developing a standalone app, then using Apple’s transaction/distribution system to earn a monetary return on the work. The “HTML5″ in the title describes one attribute of Apple’s Safari runtime — using a popular label applied to some of its features — but doesn’t discuss how the developers receive financial compensation from their audiences. The title compares two different types of things.

Among business models, Apple’s iPhone store accomplished a worthwhile goal: it provided a way for developers to focus on content development, then to receive money for that work. It also enabled iPhone customers to easily find new functionality while reducing their vendor-evaluation costs. Apple helped many iPhone developers monetize their work. That’s a very good thing.

The webpage world is still struggling with content monetization. Advertising is one path — selling your audience’s attention to third parties. Memberships and registration are another. Collateral merchandise (T-shirts, tipjars, concert tickets etc) are a third approach. But it has proven difficult to get compensated when digital bits can be so easily copied. Newspapers, television, magazines and other popular content providers are looking beyond “open” webpages, even looking into selling their own Internet-enabled devices. It’s hard to compare the business models of “HTML5″ with that of Apple’s store.

And for development models, I think the Nextstop developers will encounter a very different equation if developing beyond the iPhone’s implementation of “HTML5″… fragmentation of features across different runtime brands is a big issue, and this must be surmounted before attempting to reconcile different device form-factors. The little five-letter label “HTML5″ hides a multitude of shifting meanings.

Bottom line, “How do you get compensated for your creative work?” remains a big issue. Apple has taken a worthy step towards that goal. Others will take different steps. With enough experimentation we’ll discover better answers.

But comparing a business model with a development model… that can be as confusing as comparing ravens and writing desks, I suspect…. ;-)

[Comments on blogs.adobe.com need to go through a moderation queue. I’m eager to learn new ways of thinking, but won’t publish comments which are ad-hominem, strawmen, or otherwise aren’t worth the reading time.]

Towards Sustainable Wolverines

Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures CEO, had an essay at Huffington Post today. He started by describing how a late mix of the big-budget Wolverine project had been stolen from a film lab, then distributed on the Internet for its first four weeks of public viewing.

He described the effects, and this part particularly struck me:


How many people will be as motivated to write a book or a song, or make a movie if they know it is going to be immediately stolen from them and offered to the world with no compensation whatsoever? And how many people whose work is connected with those creative industries — the carpenters, drivers, food service workers, and thousands of others — will lose their jobs as piracy robs their business of resources?

Internet users have become used to getting things when they want it and how they want it, and those of us in the entertainment business want to meet that kind of demand as efficiently and effectively as possible. But what has happened online is that if it is ‘beyond store hours’ and the shop is closed, a lot of people just smash the window and steal what they want. Freedom without restraint is chaos, and if we don’t figure out some way to prevent online chaos, the quantity, quality and availability of the kinds of entertainment, literature, art and scholarship we need to have a healthy, vibrant culture will suffer.

The people who lust after that content disrespected the wishes its creators.

Ugly to say, but a mob abused a minority.

That’s not a smart way to breed more Wolverines.

I don’t particularly like various plans I’ve heard to “control the Internet”. And I personally think current copyright law is often tantamount to establishing a rent-holder class above our shared cultural heritage.

But I do know that “what you subsidize you get more of, what you tax you get less of”. That “tax” of feeling ripped off means fewer creative projects will be judged practical. That will hurt us all.

We’ve got to find new ways to encourage creation and communication… ways desirable for both speaker and listener, sustainable, without undesirable side effects.

Adobe co-founder Charles Geschke described the challenge, in a Wharton interview in summer of 2008:


One of the things I talk a lot about is the necessity to juggle all of the constituencies that have an interest in the business: shareholders, customers, employees, vendors, and the communities in which we operate. Those constituencies are all mildly in conflict with one another in terms of what’s best for them. Your job as a leader in a company is to find an appropriate way to juggle those conflicting interests so everybody feels like they’re getting a fair deal, without letting any one dominate the others because they’ll drag your company down.

We need to find sustainable solutions so that content creators will feel fairly treated… consumers will feel fairly treated… partners will feel fairly treated… and those who invest in Adobe will feel fairly treated.

Simply put, we’ve got to find sustainable ways to breed more Wolverines, and other critters like them…. ;-)