Steven Levy, We Get the Point

So I read this story (via LawMeme) on Microsoft’s new threedegrees, an interesting IM tool with limited music-sharing capabilities.  As a Lawmeme commenter remarked, it’s probably just a matter of time until the music sharing features get cracked.  We’ll see where that goes

But the real issue is: can Steven Levy please stop writing this type of article?  Remember when he broke the news on Palladium?  I could feel his excitement, along with excessive hype and exaggeration, pouring out of the pages.  I pictured him jumping up and down with glee, giggling about how he had written about The Next BIG Thing.  I get some of the same feeling reading this piece.

It’s not that threedegrees and Palladium aren’t newsworthy – I simply wish Levy would be a little more detached and critical, keeping the Next BIG Thing angle to a minimum.  I know these technologies are interesting and exciting, so go easy on the hype.

On mediAgora

[Updated: 6:11 PM & 2-19-03 10:45 AM]

I’ve been meaning to take a look at for awhile.  I’ve finally had a chance to peruse the site, and here are some first thoughts.

1.  The great part about this proposal is, not only does it “[work] with the new realities of digital media,” it works within the present reality of copyright.  It doesn’t revolutionize the system.  Creators already set the license terms for derivative works, and there is no compulsory license in the digital realm outside of the CARP rates for non-interactive streaming.

2.  The Promoter role is sensible and should serve as a helpful deterrent for media pirates.  It provides an incentive to, as Kevin says, work within the system.

3.   Kevin talks about sharing music as a promoter as being something done between friends.  In actuality, file trading is done between complete strangers.  It could take other shapes, particularly if there were media companies provided more legal avenues to download digital media.  But, it’s likely that a lot of the trading will still remain in a P2P, stranger-to-stranger medium. 

If that’s the case, why won’t this end up like Altnet?  If you get on KaZaA you can get legal content through Altnet, but no one really does.  Why?  Because all of the legal content, pay-for-use content appears right next to the illegal, free content.  As Scott Hunter described it in an email mesage to me, this is akin to “putting one buoy in a lake filled with them, easy to swim around.”

Sure, the promotion fee will make some people work within the system.  But, will it make enough people do so?

4.  If the music and movie companies aren’t licensing their content online right now, why would they do it under this system?  I know, there’s and such – but, really, we’ve got MusicNet, PressPlay, and Movielink.  That’s about it.  What’s going to change that under mediAgora?

5.  Perhaps it’s a matter of time until the media companies realize that something like mediAgora makes sense.  They’ll realize their business models need to change.

Or, maybe not – maybe the system needs more of a legislative shove in the right direction.


6.  And what’s to stop media creators from using DRM to limit legitimate private/fair uses other than copying?  How will we embed in the system an incentive to not do that?  Is the fact that limiting private/fair uses makes a product less valuable to the consumer enough to prevent such controls from being employed?

Also, Kevin has responded here.