Collaborative Content Distribution

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Manu Sporny, the CEO behind the Digital Bazaar and Bitmunk digital content distribution service, proposes a business model for distribution which rewards artists, platform intermediaries, and consumers, which includes a respect for copyright, but it DRM - free.


Commentary from

Beyond Collaborative Content Editing and Superdistribution models

"Currently, there are two different methods of creating content and distributing it via the Internet.

In each method, there are three important roles: the content creator/owner, the content distributor and the content customer.

In Collaborative Content Editing, the content creators can be anybody, including you. The content distributors are the website where the content resides, such as MySpace or YouTube. The content customer is anybody that visits the website. Collaborative Content Editing does not remunerate the content creators but it does reimburse the content distributors via advertising revenue.

In Super Distribution, the content creators are usually professional artists or teams of artists, but can be anybody with talent (talent being a relative term). The content distributors are regular people on the Internet, people that are running programs like BitTorrent. The content customer is anybody that downloads content from the network. This method does not remunerate the content creators nor does it remunerate the content distributors.

“Collaborative Content Distribution ensures that all parties are treated fairly - something that is lacking in today’s current environment." (

Conditions for Success

There are several things that are needed for Collaborative Content Distribution to become successful:

• The content providers must start offering their content to more than just the cable providers. Exclusivity is no longer in the best interest of the content creators.

• A technology platform, Bitmunk being a prime example, must be created that can remunerate the proper parties accordingly. These parties include content creators, content distributors and content customers.

• Services must be launched via the Internet that allow television-like shows and lineups. When it comes to television, content is king.

We can clearly see that

• Collaborative Content Distribution is far more efficient than traditional content distribution models.

• There is no advertising required to make Collaborative Content Distribution more cost effective than basic cable services.

• All of the technological hurdles have been successfully navigated.

• The only remaining issues are ensuring that the older business models and corporations can have a smooth transition to the new Collaborative Content Distribution models." (

The Issue of DRM

Debate at

Many Sporny:

We are 100% copyright respecting, you absolutely cannot under any circumstances sell anything on Bitmunk that has not been cleared by the artist for sale. When the sale occurs, it happens under the artist's terms. We are respecting the copyright of the artists.

What we oppose is shoving restrictive DRM technology down the throats of consumers merely to ensure that a corporation maintains marketshare via file format and device lock-outs.

You are right in raising the point that our technology does not enforce copyright - we are fundamentally opposed to such systems (it has never existed in past technologies - it works against the artist, if you lock content away, it makes it difficult for word-of-mouth advertising to occur).

DRM technology isn't going to fix the problem of piracy. I would think that you of all people would understand this - every DRM system to date has been hacked and bypassed. What is the point of using DRM?

Piracy is a social problem, not a technological one. The most powerful thing about our network (which you failed to mention at all in your story) is that it brings the consumer into the content distribution cycle. They get a stake in artists and labels doing well - something that the big labels are very interested in doing if it helps their bottom line (which it does).

While we support the small labels and indies, we equally support larger, more established, labels. We're not shooting for just the indies - this is a distribution system for every sale-worthy piece of digital content that has and will be created.

Bill Rosenblatt:

The type of fingerprinting/watermarking scheme you use simply does not scale as a way of catching infringers. It works OK if you know the identities of the 200 or 2000 users to whom you have distributed your content, but not beyond that. Again, this is the opinion of "big media," not necessarily that I agree with it. Big media wants to avoid calling a lawyer and prosecuting. They want to prosecute the tool makers instead, because it's more scalable. Congress likes this idea because it's a more efficient use of the nation's prosecutorial resources than going after individuals.

With a scheme like yours, a media company person will feel that there's effectively no difference between Bitmunk and the original Napster. The latter people also told everyone that they were "copyright respecting" because they left decisions about what files to put up on the network, and how to use them, up to users. You are trusting users to put up files to which they have the rights - I think that's your most serious hole. If you filtered out otherwise-copyrighted works using a fingerprint-based scheme like Wippit's (using the Gracenote technology and database), then that might be a different story. FYI, this is the direction that the DCIA and its membership is taking." (