CXO

How open source could save the media industry

There are so many industries that are slowly strangling themselves. Jack Wallen has a feeling that each and every one of these industries can be saved by adopting an open source policy. How you ask? Read on and find out.

Youtube was a brilliant idea. Allow users to sign up for accounts and upload video after video after video. Without doling out so much as a penny Youtube managed to gather millions of user-created videos that other users could watch and enjoy (or not). It was content created by the masses at no charge to the owner.

But if you read the licensing close enough you realize that basically once you upload a video you can not modify said video (or any aspect of the youtube experience). You can not redistribute user videos on Youtube even though the user may have no copyright on the video.

I would like to see the Youtube experience taken a step farther. I would like videos, as long as the creators of said videos would agree, to be modified. Say, for instance, someone makes a short movie but wants to know how to improve the movie. The creator could upload the movie and ask other users to help to finish the creation. Open source!

Where I am going with this is simple: the media industry (especially the recording industry) is severely broken. And because of the greed at the top of that particular food chain is so strong, it's going to take a miracle to fix it. I think open source might very well be the solution.

Take a look at what Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails did with their Ghosts I-IV recordings. Not only did he release these albums in a "pay for it if you like it scheme" (which, by the way, netted him over $750,000 in three days after releasing), he also released the music and artwork under a creative commons license which allowed the fans to remix the music and alter the artwork. His fans ate it up. This culminated in his allowing fans to video tape the last leg of his Lights In The Sky tour. He eventually released the videos for the fans to enjoy and edit.

I have always looked at the "remixing" art as open source (of which Paul Oakenfold is a master). And "remixing" is exactly what the RIAA needs. The music industry is reaching serious lows. In sales, talent, and ethics. Open source is just the solution for their doom and gloom. The very definition of open source says that:

Open source is an approach to design, development, and distribution offering practical accessibility to a product's source (goods and knowledge).

This theory could, with some modification, apply to the recording industry. How? Simple. Instead of thinking the "source" be something like the "master reels" of a recording, we would view the distributable media as the source. With access to this source, the fans of the recording get to make their own mixes of the music (or video) and submit them to the industry. The industry execs (along with the creators of the music or video) would decide which fan-based mixes would be distributed. Both the industry and the original artists would once again profit from music and the fan would gain some notoriety. Of course enough notoriety and a popular "re-mixer" might wind up with some semblance of a recording contract of their own. It's a win-win situation. Not only would this do away with the ever-growing hatred the public has of the RIAA, it would also do away completely with DRM-crippled music and video.

The world is currently in an economic crisis that is going to call for unique means to solve our problems. I believe that the theories behind open source could very well save many industries from ruin.

What do you think? In what other ways can open source be applied to save industries? Who knows, maybe the "powers that be" will troll this forum and find the solution to the world's economic nightmares from one of your suggestions.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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