An excellent topic came up at the recent Google Tech Summit in Napa Valley that bears repeating–trying to lump all of the tech companies into one pot as “Northern California” against artists in “Southern California” is too facile by half and is a form of geocentric narcissism.
First of all, you can’t lump all tech companies in together. Consider these examples:
Apple created enormous shareholder value by respecting rights when it launched iTunes. Apple rapidly capitalized on its long-term relationships with Mac users in the artist community to make iTunes into the biggest digital retailer in the world, soon to be the biggest music retailer. They also did something remarkable: They asked what consumers wanted. Wow. There might be something to that.
Intel funded the Media Lab at the Creative Artists Agency in 1996.
IBM’s Madison Project in the same period was essentially an early subscription music offering.
Verizon worked closely with the creative community on Vcast as did AT&T with its U-verse offering.
Yahoo! and AOL both launched two of the first licensed music subscription services.
Startups like Liquid Audio and Listen were both licensed music services based in the Bay Area in the late 1990s funded by venture capital firms. Liquid Audio went public, and had a significant follow on offering before being acquired.
Cisco and Oracle have long been in the vanguard of respecting copyrights.
And Microsoft’s efforts with Pete Higgins and the Microsoft Network predate all of them, and Microsoft has taken a leadership role in respecting copyright and authors rights.
There is a long, long list of tech companies that respect copyright—and who want their own copyrights respected. They have all made plenty of money by doing so and they have paid billions to the creative community over the last twenty years.
These companies don’t seem to find it difficult to respect rights.
There is only one public company in Northern California that has consistently defied artist rights and actively seeks to undermine copyright: Google.
So let’s be clear about who is on which side of the artist rights struggle. It’s not Northern vs. Southern California.
Don’t buy into that smokescreen.