Monday, 28 May 2007

Pirates Waive the Rules

I've always loved that headline: it was above the first piece I ever filed in a publication, a column in Arabian Computer News - back in 1986, would you believe it.

Showtime TV has called for content piracy to be eradicated in the Middle East according to, that most wonderful of Middle East business focused websites. With Showtime and Orbit having a massive vested interest in the cessation of the widespread satellite TV piracy in the region, you'd have thought they'd have made a damn sight more fuss about it years ago: we were working on (successful, natch) campaigns, for the BSA, to change the region's intellectual property (IP) laws so that the ICT industry in the region could survive. I can't say that Showtime et al have been anything like as active or inventive - and calling on regional governments to do something that's in your unilateral interest is something we learned (many, many years ago) simply won't work.

What fascinates me, he who is to be moderating a session on broadband adoption at next week's Media and Telecoms Convergence Forum in Amman, is that the TV companies have absolutely nothing to sell the telcos. The telcos desperately want ready made streams of content to make their DSL offerings relevant and to build 'value for money' bundles for subscribers. The TV companies want to sell content to subscribers. But in the Middle East, the TV companies have got no reason to trust telcos to become their delivery platform and the telco's can't sell subscribers something they're already getting for free. It just ain't happenin'...

Sure, content piracy in the region has got to end. What I think might be interesting is if it ends because nobody wants the pirate content as a conseqence of our already finding something much more interesting, relevant and vibrant - the content we create for ourselves.

Will Web 2.0 rule? Or will we all troop obediently back to Desperate Housewives and game shows at $20 a month?

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