Content is the new gold


As we watch the war waged by the planet's biggest content owners to control their product, it has occurred to me that content is the new gold. It makes even more sense when you consider that people who try to take it are called pirates.

The legendary pirates, the ones made famous in movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean" (make sure you buy on it on Blu-ray or DVD and don't try to steal it from Pirate Bay) wanted to take gold from the legitimate British business men sailing along the high seas.

The difference here is that the pirates of old wanted to build a treasure stash, while today's pirates apparently want to take the content from the owners and give it away for free--making their money the Internet way via ads.

But the means by which the big Hollywood content owners hope to shut down the modern day pirates is the equivalent of closing the shipping lanes to shut down the gold-seeking pirates.

Whether it's the presumably dead and buried SOPA and PIPA legislation or the now rising ACTA treaty, the big content owners are so hell bent on saving their content from pirates, that they are willing to destroy the shipping lanes--the free flow of information on the Internet--to stop it.

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

What we need to do is find ways to manage that content better, to present it in ways that make it easy to purchase legally. In fact, Chris Brogan had a blog post last week that addressed this very issue. If you want people to buy content legally, you have to make it easy to buy it legally.

And that means instead of fighting the Internet, you embrace it. Increasingly, services like Spotify, Netflix and a myriad of others that provide content for a single reasonable monthly price are driving people toward legitimate content channels and away from pirate content sites.

Yet in spite of the evidence that making content available reduces piracy dramatically, Tristan Louis points out in his blog post that Hollywood is holding back its biggest titles from streaming services, and in its own way actually encouraging folks using legitimate channels to seek other means.

iTunes proved one thing beyond doubt: If there is a legal, reasonably priced alternative people will flock to it.

And that's not all. reported on a preliminary study by which suggests that the Amazon Free Lending library might actually be increasing sales. That's right: By giving away content, Amazon is driving sales of other content. Fancy that.

And that's what the Content Tyrants (because we really need a good name for them) need to understand. We all hate having our content stolen. There isn't a content creator on the planet who likes having their content used without their permission, but at the same time we recognize the value of sharing on the open Internet.

Our primary purpose here is to discuss content and content management. If we can find ways to manage and deliver the content to users in legitimate ways, while making it easy to share and link to that content, everyone wins.

But if we shut down the shipping lanes to save the gold, everyone loses. It seems simple enough to understand, yet the Content Tyrants seem hell bent on saving their gold at any cost with little understanding of how to use the Internet to actually drive legitimate use of their content. Arggh! - Ron