A weekly round up of news and views from the tech, creative and business world.
Fleecing Content Creators
So, as it seems like most everybody knows (and if you don’t, shame on you! But it’s okay. Here’s a simple version. It’s even in comic form so you have no excuse to avoid it. Read up.) there’s been a whole hullabaloo lately about the FCC, the internet, and potential so-called “fast lanes”.
If you didn’t click that “read up” link (lazy) here’s the summary: The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is currently deciding whether providers should have the ability to intentionally slow down the speed that content on the internet can get to you. What that means is that Internet Service Providers would be able to open a “fast lane”, where companies who can afford to shell out top-dollar will have their content delivered at lightning speeds, while independent or smaller companies who can’t afford to dish out that kind of cash will be slowed to a crawl. This analogy is flawed however, as the ISPs would not be building new, faster infrastructure to accommodate this. The only way for the “fast” and “slow” lanes to come about right now is for the ISPs to slow down the existing internet for those who can’t pay top dollar.
This rule has been on the table a couple of different times in a couple of different ways, with a recent revision ruling that ISPs can have the ability to throttle internet, but “they wouldn’t be allowed to.” Of course, the ISPs insist that they would never purposefully throttle internet speeds in an extortion-esque business arrangement, but if you look around, the seeds for it have already been sown. As the old saying goes, power corrupts, and if the ISPs were able to juice extra cash out of content creators like Netflix and others, surely it won’t be long before they throw neutrality to the wind.
A small glimmer of hope in this whole ordeal manifested when it was revealed that the FCC would be taking public comments on the proposed change on their website. Needless to say, the advocates for Net Neutrality (particularly those with a lot of follower-firepower) quickly turned their sights to the site and let loose; as of this writing, the FCC’s site is still limping along after having crashed earlier in the day. The deadline for comments was originally scheduled to be midnight on July 15th, but it has been extended because of the crash. If they’ve made good on their word and the website comes back up today, on Moving World Wednesday, we strongly encourage you to go to their website, look through some of the comments being filed, and file a comment yourself. Even though it may seem like the one comment you contribute will be lost in the sea of what’s been said, don’t be discouraged; we need all of the help we can get. The internet as we know it is at stake.
Bite-sized World Cup roundup
The 2014 World Cup was a huge event for competitive arm-folding. It was also apparently extremely popular amongst social media marketing teams and fans of football.
The football stadium has long been a sought-after vessel for advertising and the World Cup was no exception: some examples were shameless (like the most chic trophy case in the world), some more successful. Brands are increasingly using every inch of the pitch and pixel of the screen in raising brand awareness. The footwear of the World Cup was noticeably colourful, with Nike’s fluorescent yellow and Puma’s mismatched blue and pink football boots ensuring the brands could be recognised from anywhere on the pitch, despite receiving criticism from Russian orthodox priests.
The event was the biggest yet for Twitter, with a reported 672 million tweets during the competition. Adidas was particularly aggressive with its #allinornothing campaign, driven from its secret social media war room. Social media platforms continue to be a rich centre of coverage from brands and viewers. An explosion of Suarez memes gave Twitter users plenty to chew on, prompting sponsor Adidas to remove adverts of the player from Copacabana beach after queues formed to have photos taken with it.
Brazil’s defeat against Germany provoked an eruption of gifs and tumblrs of sadness. Despite the lols, there was an important message for brands: the silence of Brazil’s sponsors highlighted how poorly prepared many brands are for defeat – or worse – complete humiliation.
Seeding the future
A new study reveals that the practice of downloading content via peer-to-peer torrent networks may not be to blame for flagging film sales; no more than Hollywood’s persistence in making terrible sequels and giving Michael Bay money, anyway. Economist Koleman Strumpf examined the relationship between revenue projections of films on the Hollywood Stock Exchange and the availability of illicit copies of the film, using data from 2003 to 2009 involving 150 films. In his own words, there is “no evidence in my empirical results of file-sharing having a significant impact on theatrical revenue”. Furthermore, Strumpf suggests that illegal downloads that are available before a film’s release can actually have a modestly positive release on box office revenue.
Strumpf’s report was published in the same week that BitTorrent announced its intention to crowdfund original content and impose a paywall on the legal content it currently hosts. The proposition is part of a continued effort from BitTorrent to transform into a legitimate and profitable business by shedding its legacy as the supplier of technology that enables the mass downloading of illicit content. Currently the company offers around 10,000 bundles of albums, e-books and games, each of which is controlled by the content creator. Plans to introduce a paywall will provide a revenue stream for content creators, a move which is tentatively welcomed by the creative industries, where BitTorrent still has irrevocable affiliation with illegal file-sharing.
Even if file-sharing only minimally affects huge film studios as Stumpf reports, its damage can be much more potent to independent film studios and game developers. In an interview with the New York Times, the head of anti piracy coalition CreativeFuture, Ruth Vitale, commented “If they are sincere about supporting creatives, BitTorrent needs to condemn the widespread misuse of the protocol it created.”
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