The Australian House of Representatives committee report on hardware and software pricing, geographical restrictions, copyright law, and other issues around tech and digital media in Australia, hasn’t exactly vanished into the legislative waste basket.
Indeed, it’s sparked comment and reaction across the Internet thanks to the spectacle of a developed economy siding with the little guy against Big Media. And one of the highest-level comments so far comes from Chad Hurley, former CEO of YouTube, courtesy of the Australian Financial Review.
“I definitely think we are in a global consumer environment now,” he opines in the AFR. “I think the business models are breaking down and the companies that are going to win in this new world are the ones that make it as easy as possible for the consumers to consume the content wherever and whenever they want.”
Hurley basically proposes that content owners should forget about copyright and instead focus on ensuring the widest possible distribution, regardless of rights, with appropriate methods to monetize those eyeballs through whatever channel. “Over time, all content is going to be distributed digitally and consumed on any type of device, so rights are a grey area,” he affirms.
As the force behind YouTube, first as founder and latterly as advisor, he’s hardly a neutral party in the debate. Still, his viewpoint seems on its way towards having at least one rich-world government swing behind it.
What could this mean for e-books, then? Well, non-DRM doesn’t appear to have put any publisher out of business yet, so the more progressive houses are already well on the way with that one. Ads in e-books? Why not? Cheap paperbacks of the past often carried them, and if they really are that offensive, then why not shell out more for the premium ad-free version as with apps? And authors like Cory Doctorow appear to be thriving while giving away at least part of their production.
“At this point maybe they are all continuing to try and lock things down, but I really do believe there is going to be a new service or company that comes along at some point and just starts to remove those barriers and will attract lots of customers all over the world,” says Hurley.
So who wants to be first?