March 27, 2008
Jim Griffin has been telling everyone to “monetize the anarchy” for essentially the entire decade. This solution was on the table dating back to Napster. The idea has long percolated within the entertainment & tech community (read: the pholist). Many, many others contributed to its development, including academics Terry Fisher, Neil Netanel, and Jamie Love (focusing more on a compulsory version), as well as organizations like EFF and the Berkman Center. I remember FMC’s Walter McDonough at the Berkman-Gartner Digital Media Conference in 2003 saying something to the effect of, “We all know we’re headed towards collective licensing anyway, right? Why can’t we just admit it?”
And yet for so long it seemed like this win-win solution would never truly break into the mainstream, including the major record labels. For awhile, many recoiled at the mere mention of collective licensing. (At the extremes were folks like Jim DeLong and Patrick Ross from PFF, who compared it to a “socialist gulag” and called it a “terrifying model.”)
Jim Griffin’s hiring suggests that voluntary collective licensing is finally getting the attention and investment from key rightsholders that it so richly deserves. It’s a good day for rightsholders, artists, innovators, and music fans. Hopefully, this is just the beginning….