The Joost TV Business Model

by on March 14, 2007

I will not be buying shares in Joost any time soon. This is not because they don’t have a good product – having been on their beta testing swarm for the last few months, I think it’s quite nice really. The trouble is, according to the Guardian they will be getting their content from media owners based on a lie. The lie is as follows:

“… Joost boasts a secure, efficient, piracy-proof internet platform, and is guaranteeing copyright protection for content owners and creators.”

What a wonderful example of hubris: DRM will preserve the sanctity of copyright for the owners of films and videos and they can use the net as just another distribution channel. Phew! Thank god for Joost!

Unfortunately though, that won’t happen. It takes approximately 4 minutes for cracked versions of music from the iTunes store to appear on the P2P networks (according to Big Champagne). What makes Joost – or more accurately their investors – think that won’t happen to them?
I suppose the Graun can’t get it right every time, but let’s make this the subject of experiment. Give Joost the benefit of the doubt, put them up against Cory Doctorow‘s assertion:

“I believe that we live in an era where anything that can be expressed as bits will be. I believe that bits exist to be copied. Therefore, I believe that any business-model that depends on your bits not being copied is just dumb, and that lawmakers who try to prop these up are like governments that sink fortunes into protecting people who insist on living on the sides of active volcanoes.”

Joost are pitching their tent right now. Let’s see how long they last.

Comments

Cory’s quote is entirely spurious. He says “We live in an era where anything that can be expressed as bits will be. I believe that bits exist to be copied.”.

For starters, the second assertion is complete nonsense. More importantly though, this is no different from someone a few hundred years ago saying “We live in an era where anything that can be expressed in written words will be. I believe that words exist to be copied”. Using bits to carry information is no different from using the written word. And yet we have copyright.

He then goes on to say that business models which depend on bits not being copied are “just dumb”. This is not a rational argument, this is simple abuse.

Poor quote. I’ve never had much respect for Mr Doctorow, and this quote is a perfect example of why.

The reason I use the quote is not for its elegance. Just as Joost’s business model rests on their DRM being perfect, Doctorow’s comment rest on a similar amount of faith. So – let’s see who’s right in a few years. Personally, I’m on Doctorow’s side because he’s always smiling and has Very Short Hair.

I’d agree with you on this one:

Therefore, I believe that any business-model that depends on your bits not being copied is just dumb […]

DRM is stupid.

Buying an official DVD release and then discover that it’s intended to be played only if your DVD player has a specific regional code set, is strupid as well.

I can buy my music, my software, my DVD movies and my books, but no digital protection can protect 101% any content published under any form (except maybe books carved in big stone blocks, but even that is uncertain, taking into account the today’s level of digital photography:-).

So to proclaim something like “piracy-proof” looks to me a bit like the un-sinkable “Titanic”, and we all know how the story ended… :-/

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