Is the Web the new Hollywood?

So things were off to an interesting start here today at AlwaysOn. JD Lasica's panel asked the question "Is the Web the New Hollywood?" I don't think the question was really answered (it's more rhetorical than anything else), but the panel did raise a few issues that I thought were cool. Here are just a couple points I thought were interesting.

1) There was general agreement that user content is very valuable, and can often generate good ideas. Users have good ideas. This was sort of a "duh" moment for me, but I was pleased to hear it coming from such a distinguished and high ranking panel.

2) The term "user-generated content" isn't the right term (according to Erik Flannigan of AOL). The better term would be user-manipulated or user contextualized content. I found this interesting because I am a firm believer in the fact that language and careful word choice is super important to how something is perceived. And accuracy is important too. Here, the "user-manipulated" or "user-contextualized" terms actually are more accurate IF the goal is to describe something that the user manipulates or contextualizes. But I don't think it's the better word for truly grass roots user-GENERATED content. Changing that term to the terms the media companies prefer is subtle but important. They don't want to be completely marginalized in user-generated world, so if they characterize what's happening as not something that is user GENERATED, then it increases their importances and lessens their marginalization on the citizen media scene. So I think there's a meaningful distinction between the term Flannigan doesn't like, and the terms he has proposed here.

3) The Google representative, Jennifer Feikin, gave good props to Creative Commons during one of her comments.

4) Advertising and media companies are putting at least two tiers of content out into the marketplace. One is intended for user distribution, mashups etc. Something that is set free. (Like promotional videos. These are generally all promotional items that they want bloggers etc. to link up to, share, change, transform, and virally distribute. It's great marketing for them. The other content is the traditionally licensed content. The "All Rights Reserved Content" (ARRC). This made me think about what the implications would be for this sort of distribution in a copyright context. Specifically, what happens when someone makes a use of the free content (e.g., creates a derivative work) that is indistinguishable from the ARRC? (How would the company enforce the derivative work rights in the ARRC? How will they distinguish what was taken from the free contenct (the promo) and that which is taken from the ARRC?) Also, if someone makes a fair use of the ARRC, is the fair use right broader when the copyright owner is putting material out there for users to take for free? How does the market effect impacted (factor 4 of the fair use analysis)? What about the nature of the copyrighted work (factor 2 of the fair use analysis)?

5) There was a short discussion about how insanely complex the rights distribution scheme gets with music, for example. Ted Cohen of EMI gafve the example of a mash up of a number of hip hop songs. There might be 6-8 song-writing credits for each hip hop song. Then those songs are mashed together and suddenly there are upwards of 50 people that need to get credit, and also receive a percentage of royalty from the distributions of the mash ups. This is such a mess. We need to fix this for sure.

6) There were some great props for A service I really love and have blogged about previously.

7) Total agreement from the panel that all the video/media content will need to eventually get to consumers TV sets. That's going to happen, is already happening, and although the PC might drive all the control of the content, it must eventually get to our TV sets. (My question on this point is whether this is true in other countries? Is this an American-centric view of how this will develop?)

8) AOL will be launching something soon called "AIM Pages" where they will try to get users to share more information, and make it easy for connected users to know when their "friends" have updated their content (e.g., added songs, added photos, added blog or vlog posts, etc.)

9) If you're a content producer, you MUST leave the view of content being created for the traditional television world (e.g., no 30 min. sitcoms, no 1 hr shows). Your content needs to be created for the broadband generation.

10) There was brief discussion about how advertising and short content go hand in hand. The user-generated short films are perfect for the advertising format.

11) Finally, it was clear that distribution platforms will drive how and when content is consumed. Shorts will be designed for people watching on their portable devices. Longer films will be seen in public venues or on home theater systems. The format of viewing will have much to do with what content is created for what formats.

Dan Farber of ZDNet is also writing about this panel.

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