Legos and Media Piracy

Monday, January 10 2005

It seems that since Napster the music industry has been in a big huff over “stolen” music and the movie industry has been in a similar huff lately over Bittorrent. Everyone on both sides is in this huge sort of sweaty arm-wrestling match stalemate, both sides threatening to break their arms under the expended energy.

I have the solution. And it’s so simple.

Those who have the most stake in making sure people pay for their music and videos should stop waging silly lawsuits against 9 year olds and focus their energies on something entirely different: hardware.

Remember when U2 did this thing with the iPod where they put their whole collection and a new album on it for a few bucks? What if that’s the way it was with everything, except slightly different. What if the thing you bought when you went to Virgin Records wasn’t just the media, it was the media and the player. If it was a movie maybe it would have a little projector built in and have some kinda of wireless broadcast that made it possible to pump it out to authorized devices based on some standard. Same with music, except maybe the music devices would be the size of a Tic Tac or something with wireless output to fancy wireless headphones.

And make it so the media within the device was impossible to go corrupt, so there’d be no loopholes with “backup rights”. Build super redundancy into the device or make it solid state or whatever, but make it so the data is everlasting. Maybe make it so it’s able to check itself and if some part is corrupt, it automatically talks to some node on the Internet that pulls down the complete copy of data. You’d expect to pay a bit more for the Everlasting versions maybe. Work hard at making the tech cheap, invent new things, make money by licensing your tech, and bring it to the masses on the cheap.

And make it so all those media devices connected like Legos (in fact, make them Legos) so that once connected, you had a jukebox of media, and you could shuffle between everything. Make it so that carrying around 40GB of music or movies took up no more space than an iPod does today.

Then, when people figured out how to rip you off, ignore them and make your hardware cooler than it is. Stay ahead of the game by innovating instead of retaliating, and spend money on advancing tech that makes your product worth buying rather than stealing it. Makes it possible for me to build a Lego castle with working drawbridge that also contains all my media.