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I’m sorry I could not provide a title for this article. It’s really something in my mind, but I could not find a small number of words to describe exactly what I have in my mind. Someone would probably say that it means it’s not clear in my mind. That’s probably true, actually.

I was on Slashdot and read an article about NBC going to provide some movies through P2P.

This article made me think of people who works in big companies making big money with some product. In this case it’s movies. It happens the same with software applications, games, etc. It is not limited to software and computers though. These companies are seeing internet and the simplicity of connections and the simplicity of creating communities taking away some of their money. People is getting into communities and sharing data, software, movies and not paying the companies that produced this. This is not very different from when in the Eighties people copied tapes and did not buy the originals, the difference is that it was once local, while now it’s worldwide. I live in Italy and can get a movie that was just released in USA yesterday for free. The distribution company in Italy might not have started to play it at cinemas and I already have it in my computer.
This is not good for their business.

Now I think of some employee at NBC or other companies that wonders how he could help his company regain a part of that money. It’s obvious that the solution can’t be to give it for free and legally. So they must go half-way, the only solution is to provide the same product, possibly at a higher quality than the illegal version and for a reasonable price. Getting that piece of software, movie or content in general must be simple. P2P and downloading is not something for hardcore computer users, geeks and nerds. Everyone can install eMule and download, or get BitTorrent, get on a tracker and download in a matter of minutes or hours.
So companies must find a way that is simple, fast, offers a better quality and is also cheap. How much is cheap? There isn’t an exact amount of money, some people is ready to pay the full price (those who wait for the movie to be distributed and go the cinema even if they could have downloaded it for free, those who go to the nearest shop and buy it, those who download a game, test it and buy the original because it was worth!). Some other people is not willing to pay anything. There is probably no way to get any money from that people, companies should probably try to educate some other way that someone payed for that content and if you read, watch or use it, you should pay something.
So how much is the money you are ready to pay for a content? How far is a company ready to go to get some money out of the people that is downloading for free? Offering something at a lower price will also mean that those who were ready to pay the full price will now be able to get the same for a lower amount (in many cases).

Now I think back to that employee who is thinking a way to make his company get some of that money. He is probably going to some big manager and say:”we need to get some money out of those pirates that steal our movies. If they steal them, it means they want it and if they want it they will be ready to pay something. Let’s set up something and we give them the movies for 5 dollars”. The big manager will start saying that they can’t give the movie for this little that all renting companies such as BlockBuster or Netflix won’t be so happy. Companies selling DVD’s won’t be happy.
This is all true. But that employee want to do something good. Wants to get some of that money back. They start talking and the final result is this idea from NBC. It is not how it is today, but it’s not as “cool” as the employee originally thought, but at least it’s something. It’s a step forward.
The first one who will be able to get on the correct path will make money.
To me, iTunes did this. They got the big names, they got the simplicity, the got the install-base thanks to the iPod and the Mac computers and they got an amount of money that people is ready to pay.
I remember when cdnow.com (later bought by Amazon) used to sell “custom CD’s”. What are they? You would go on cdnow.com (used to sell audio CD’s) and pick 10-15 songs you liked. They burnt them on a CD and you’d get it in the mail. It was all legal and you paied a little more than 1USD per song. IT WAS GREAT! iTunes is the same with the simplicity of a click.

Now back to the article…. I read a bunch of negative comments from readers of slashdot, I am very happy that NBC might be going this way. It’s a step forward, it’s a step in the right direction. I hope it’ll happen and wish all the luck to those employees that try new paths.

This post is also for my “friend” James. I hope he won’t mind if I refer to him as a friend. 😀