January 31, 2007

Innovation in monetization

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 7:32 am

The google PR team announces:

…one example of innovation in monetization and distribution with a new AdSense video test. We will be working with a wide set of content providers, grouping together high quality video content from providers with high quality ads and offering them as playlists which publishers can select from and display on their AdSense sites. (For more about that test, click

Wow! google/Youtube will group video content with ads! Of course everything is high quality!

I wonder why the google PR guys call this business model an “innovation in monetization”. Combining ads with moving pictures is just the business model of good old Free-TV. Probably this “innovation” exists ever since a privately owned station started to broadcast television in the USA.

Granted, AdSense allows more targeted advertising. But I suspect that the google PR people writing this bullshit are beginning to ruin google’s reputation as a cool innovator (if google ever had this reputation).

For now “Video AdSense” is only a test for some well informed early adaptors but it seems that the google PR guys think that one day the Free-TV business model will designate the future of the Internet. Well… maybe, maybe not. It depends on the viewers’ ability to filter out the spam. Some years ago I wrote:

Only the access to the source code of our future television sets will guarantee the independence of content and technology.

Listen, dear google PR guys: this statement is still true. If you have time you should take a look at and read David Burke’s book SpyTV.

Currently I don’t see any reason why anybody should succeed in converting my computer to a television set. Targeted advertising is being deployed by the US cable and satellite television providers. All you need for tracking the consumer behaviour is a return channel. Do the PR guys really believe that one day I will hook my computer to AdSense financed gooTube in exchange for my use data?

Sorry, the deal is not so simple. The positive news is that consumers are allowed to “opt in” for giving away their behaviour profiles. This is certainly better than the default behaviour of my TV set which does not even allow me to “opt out” from receiving spam.

Meanwhile some people are working on a solution how consumers can express their part of the deal: in DMP we call it Represent Use Data/ Represent User Data

January 27, 2007


Filed under: Logbuch — swann @ 2:48 pm

Kristina Thomas hat in ihrem Buch “Reisegast in Japan” geschrieben, dass ein Japaner sehr genau zwischen einem persönlichen und einem öffentlichen Ich unterscheiden kann und je nach Gesprächspartner unterschiedliche Termini (z.B. Meister, Kollege, Schüler) fuer seine erste Person verwendet. Im Unterschied zu dieser “relativen Selbstdefinition” legen im Englischen oder im Deutschen Personalpronomen die Perspektive der ersten Person eindeutig fest. Für Japaner ist es daher sehr wichtig, vor einem Gespräch möglichst gut zu erkennen, welche Hierarchie zwischen der ersten und der zweiten Person besteht – und gegebenenfalls Informationen über die zweite Person einzuholen.

Die öffentlichen ichs, die mir in Tokyo bis jetzt begegnet sind, waren jedenfalls stets hilfsbereit und äusserst freundlich – auf der Strasse und in der Bahn herrscht ein angenehmes Gefühl der Gegenseitigkeit, das interessanterweise auch ganz ohne gemeinsame Sprache entsteht. Vielleicht ist diese Spaltung der Persönlichkeit ja die nächste Stufe der Evolution… immerhin schleppen wir ja mittlerweile eine digitale Aura mit uns herum, die den geübten Computernutzer meist schon am Header und am Stil des Zitats erkennen lässt, mit wem er es zu tun hat… was auch noetig ist, da man ja ausser Daten nichts über den Menschen am anderen Ende der Leitung weiss.

Kultivierung der Sinne ist angesagt, auch wieder im physical space!

January 25, 2007

Video AdSense

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 6:37 pm

Google will group together video content from providers such as Warner Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment together with quality ads and offering them as playlists which publishers can select from and display on their AdSense sites. Last year they were doing a similar trial with MTV Networks, where ad-supported MTV video content was distributed to publishers who displayed the content on their sites. Apparently the advertising business is moving up the value-chain. This would imply that the position of the major content rights-owners becomes stronger while the position of the big brands (e.g. MTV) who used to control the advertising business in the past will become weaker.

If the studios manage to build their own brands in the Net the publishers (e.g. News Corp) will experience some losses. Instead of the publishers google will control the advertising business, because they keep the secret knowledge about the connections between consumers and cooperations – the knowledge about the interests of the single end-user (see also Google’s business model).

A prerequisite for google’s model is that content and advertisements are packaged in a way that does not allow end-users to filter out the advertisements. Since video ads will be bundled with video content this implies that sooner or later some form of DRM will be applied in order to prevent end-users from filtering out the ads. Let’s have a look how the value-chain is changing:

before: MTV buys Content rights. MTV bids for AdWords. MTV packages AdWords with Service. Consumers watch Service with advertisments.

Right content service + advertisements transfer use
User studios publishers (e.g. MTV) network providers consumers
Function Create + Produce Aggregate Deliver Render

after: Studios own Content rights. Studios bid for AdWords. Studios package AdWords with Content. Consumers can watch Content with advertisments.

Right content + advertisements service transfer use
User studios publishers network providers consumers
Function Create + Produce Aggregate Deliver Render

Currently the publishers take care that content must be watched together with the advertisments (e.g. because most end-users can’t digitally remix good old television). It is possible to extract a resource from the Youtube player. It will be possible to remove advertising “spam” from valuable content. Who will take care of this problem – the studios or google?

January 24, 2007


Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 2:59 pm

It leads to an impasse if the ones say that a certain platform goes too far and the others say that a certain platform goes not far enough. A solution could be that a technical platform (based on a toolkit specification) enables both parties to implement their required level of technical protection. One service provider may simply watermark MP3s with identifiers pointing to original content items via the handle system. Another service provider may put digital resources in crypto-bottles connected with a single registration server.Some service providers think that their investment in the required level of security is so high (e.g. proprietary client devices) that they can only generate returns if they “own” their customers. Unfortunately service providers still hope that they will become rich if they set up and operate a proprietary platform for DRM services.

The DMP tries to avoid the impasse by specifying a single platform which makes possible the implementation of many business models. Then the content providers who own the copyright may find out themselves which is the best business model for the Net.

Unfortunately we are still in the situation that the different gurus (e.g. the old media vs. the cypherpunks) are trying to proclaim that their “religions” form the only truth and not other truths can exist next to them.

The fundamental error is that a single digital media “religion” should dominate the Net. There will always be supporters and objectors of the one or the other truth. As an end-user I don’t want to be forced to confess to one “religion”. Maybe I want to change my preferred scheme twice a day or follow two “religions” in parallel. The digital space is infinite – I see no reason why an independent user should pay for different devices or networks in order to access the content of his choice.

January 20, 2007


Filed under: Logbuch — swann @ 4:33 pm

In June 2006 the British artist Simon Faithfull deliberately left 500 copies of his book LOST around the town of Whitstable, on the south-east coast of England. Before distributing the books Simon certified the originality of each copy by creating a list of 500 unique numbers, storing this list on his computer. People who pick up a book can register its location on Simon’s website by entering the individual number (see e.g. the book L-179). Simon documented the journey of the books on a beautiful map which currently is shown in an exhibition at Kunstvererin Heidelberg. The map is a substantial part of his piece of art. A collector of modern conceptual art would certainly pay a fortune for the right to “own” the map of LOST.

I also like Simon’s art and I want to own a piece of LOST myself. At the Heidelberg exhibition I saw some copies of the LOST book – it would have been easy for me to steal one. Unfortunately the copies have no numbers on their covers – they are not part of Simon’s original artwork. The copies are just a documentation of the project – catalogues.

Simon’s project is a good example for the digital management of copyright. The list of numbers is Simon’s secret. Only Simon and the lucky finders of the books know the numbers. As of today only 10 percent (97/500 copies) have been registered on the website. Some books (e.g. L-468) have been lost and found several times.

Without knowing the numbers it is impossible for me to create a derivative work by infiltrating a fake copy into Simon’s system. If I only knew the number… I could adopt a copy (e.g. L-23) and take it on a virtual journey around the world. L-23 would become the most famous LOST book within a few hours. Tomorrow I would go to Heidelberg, steal a LOST documentation and print my number of L-23 on it. And if the real (?) finder of L-23 tries to register his copy, it will be obvious that he is the counterfeiter.


January 18, 2007

Who will pay for DRM?

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 10:50 pm

The Times wrote that HD DVDs can’t be played on Vista computers. If the PCs use a digital connection link with the monitor or television the highest level of content protection (HDCP) is required. About 15 percent of PCs sold in Britain use digital connections, but virtually none of the PCs that use a digital connection have HDCP.

Consumer: (calls the Microsoft service hotline) “My HD DVD does not play on my Vista PC”

Microsoft: “It’s not our fault. At the moment HD DVD and Blu-ray Discs certainly require such protection.”

Consumer: “What can I do?”

Microsoft: “Computers with built-in HDCP protection – which could play such discs – are being phased in”

Consumer:“I don’t understand”

Microsoft:“You have to buy a new PC and a new monitor”

Consumer:“?!#%!.;…”(end of call)

Meanwhile Slashdot announces that a clever developer has provided a solution how HD DVD could be played on Vista computers – using BackupHDDVD, a tool to decrypt AACS protected movies.

Developer:“My BackupHDDVD is a tool for creating Fair Use copies of HD DVDs. Consumers (who have some technical expertise) can download it from my website and install it on their Vista PCs”

Lawyer:“BackupHDDVD is is a circumvention tool. Cease and desist or we will sue you!”

Developer:“Okay, go ahead. The EFF will defend my rights”

Lawyer:“Okay, we’ll see”

After two years there will be a settlement between the EFF and the Hollywood studios. Consumers will “phase in” HDCP buying Microsoft Vista, new PCs and new monitors. And Hollywood is happy that they still control their content distribution value-chain. Conclusion: Consumers will pay for DRM.

January 14, 2007

Major or independent

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 5:55 pm

Daniel Harris the founder of the kendra initiative wrote on a mailing list

The music industry should stop waiting for the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Real to come up with technological solutions that fit the music industry’s needs. (These software vendors will wait until the last minute before they capitulate to an open marketplace framework/protocol. And I’d be concerned if they acted in any other way – they are there to serve their shareholders and maximise profits after all. And they currently do this best by building vertically integrated systems).

There is no uniform “music industry”. The music industry consists of Major Labels (“Big Five“) and many independent players. The Majors defend their monopolies by protecting their value-chains through proprietary technology (e.g. DRM) and forcing independent players to accept their license conditions.

Independent media producers (e.g. Indie labels) should not wait for the “software Majors” to provide solutions, because these solutions (e.g. iPod) will never allow them to control their own business. In the digital space, the players who own the technology platforms for content production, protection and reception (e.g. Microsoft, Apple, Vodafone) are very powerful. Apple iTunes is a good example for a technology company dictating the business rules for content providers.

The “music industry” should rather promote a technology platform that cannot be controlled by a single technology vendor (e.g. because it is based on open standards implemented as open source software). At the same time it is important that this standard platform will be implemented by major device manufacturers.

DMP has developed IDP-2, a specification of a toolkit DRM solution. DMP specs are publicly available and the reference software is available as OSS under MPL 1.1. A specific solution (Media Streaming MAF) has been submitted to MPEG and is currently progressing towards an ISO/IEC standard (23000-5).

Major labels will not adopt IDP, because they still own and defend end-to-end value-chains. But many small and independent media producers will jump on the DMP wagon, since the access to the source code of the media distribution platform guarantees their independence.

By the way: the comments on /. about the recent crack of HD DVD contain some valuable insights about what happens to a DRM standard that is not accepted by Internet users.

January 13, 2007

La vie

Filed under: Logbuch — swann @ 6:34 pm

… est un long fleuve tranquille


January 8, 2007

Who controls a feed?

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 5:11 pm

I his blog entry on the P2P Foundation site Nicholas comments Anne Walk’s question ‘Who Owns a Feed’. Nicholas explains that Copyright governs the content in an RSS feed, but the metadata (e.g. the URL) is not protected. Therefore his answer to Anne’s question is:

Who, if anyone, owns a feed? – Many people and hence no one person [...] What is required is clear rules and understanding so that no one takes control/ ownership of a part of the system that does not belong to them.

I agree with Nicholas’ findings and I think we can even go a step further. We need an environment that enables everyone to take control of his part of the system.

Most digital media business models I know are actually based on Service Providers “taking control of a part of the system that does not belong to them”. The flow and the distribution of money within the system is determined by contracts between value-chain players. The conditions of contracts are determined by the most powerful players in a value-chain. The results of bilateral or multilateral negotiations are not always fair.

“Controlling a feed” is a big business. Service Providers (e.g. google, yahoo,…) do not own the copyright of (user generated) content, but they control the metadata (e.g. user ratings, content identifiers, tags,…). Knowledge is information about content (e.g. context). Knowledge can be more valuable than the content itself. Too much knowledge about free services under control of the community is bad for the business of Service Providers. This might be one of the reasons why last year Yahoo paid an undisclosed amount of money to the creator of XSPF (Yahoo! Music Welcomes Webjay and Lucas Gonze).

My personal view of the current situation is that we are constructing a world in the digital space which is very similar to the world we know in the physical space. A lot of value is being created in the digital space. This value is intellectual property (IP) and access to knowledge. It is a fact that intellectual property needs to be protected – otherwise competition will be unfair, because some people unfortunately just steal the result of the work of other people.

In my opinion some of the critical questions are:

  1. Who controls the platform to protect intellectual property?
    • one or a few private enterprises
    • many small enterprises or individuals
    • governments elected by the people
  2. How can we prevent that the platform will be misused to discriminate value-chain users?
    • competition law
    • open standards
    • free and open source software (FOSS)
    • RF (royalty free) patent policies
    • flat hierarchies (every user can choose his role in the value-chain)
  3. How can we prevent that protection of intellectual property frustrates innovation?
    • enforcement of copyright law (e.g. Public Domain)
    • support of copyright exemptions (e.g. education, fair use,…)
    • open licenses (e.g. Open Content, Open Source)
    • new business models (e.g. based on digital services instead of physical objects)
    • new payment models (e.g. Open Money)

One platform to “control feeds” has been proposed by the DMP. The founders of DMP are Digital Media strategists. Because most of us are engineers, we created an architecture for an Interoperable DRM System that consists of Entities (e.g. User, Device, Content) and relationships (e.g. Transact, License,…) ordered in layers (we like it simple).

This table roughly describes the relationship between some DMP Entities and laws:

DMP Entity Value-chain players (Users) Lawyers
Transact Business layer Contract law
License Negotiation and contract layer Competition law
Right Intellectual property layer Copyright law
Content Creation layer Fundamental rights
Product Production layer Copyright law
Service Packaging layer Trademarks
Device Processing layer Patents
Network Delivery layer Contract law

When the digital space was only inhabited by hackers (15 years ago) we actually did what we wanted – and nobody cared. Then (about 10 years ago) the business people entered our space and started to “take control of the feeds”. Today some Service providers are taking control of parts of the systems that do not belong to them by attaching Licenses to Content or filing patents for Devices.

As Nicholas said, we need clear rules and understanding so that no one takes control/ ownership of a part of the system that does not belong to them. Therefore it is essential that engineers and lawyers work together with the common objective to create an environment that enables everyone to take control of his part of the system by expressing (and if necessary enforcing) the rules for accessing his services.

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