Learning From Limewire

Gather round, youngsters.  I’m here to tell you the story of how the record industry got rid of piracy.  You see, many years ago, back when the interwebs was just a tiny series of tubes with barely anyone on it, there was this company called Limewire.  It began around the turn of the new century in 2000.  It was one of a number of peer-to-peer services that some bad people were using to share the music that they had bought thinking

English: Logo of Adblock plus Deutsch: Logo vo...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that they owned it.  The folks that sold the music – the recording industry – sued Limewire and a bunch of the other companies too.  This, they said, would assure that piracy would end and the music business would remain healthy.  I’ll let you kids figure out if that’s really the case (hint – not so much).

Suing a company out of existence (and Limewire isn’t exactly out of existence, just sort of in limbo) rarely kills off the idea behind it.  For example, Aereo may be dead but the demand to stream local TV isn’t gone (neither is the piracy of signals).  So I read today’s story on something going on in France with a bemused smile:

On grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business, two groups of French publishers are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH. (Les Echos, broke the news in this story, in French).

Plaintiffs are said to be the GESTE and the French Internet Advertising Bureau. The first is known for its aggressive stance against Google via its contribution to the Open Internet Project. (To be clear, GESTE said they were at a “legal consulting stage”, no formal complaint has been filed yet.) By his actions, the second plaintiff, the French branch of the Internet Advertising Bureau is in fact acknowledging its failure to tame the excesses of the digital advertising market.

That sums it up nicely.  The problem isn’t that people want to block ads.  The problem is that publishers have destroyed the viewing/reading experience.  There are plenty of studies that testify to consumers’ willingness to participate in the attention/value exchange.  You give me valuable content, I will give you my (and your ads) my attention. People didn’t seem to mind banner ads, even if they were for products that didn’t fit the site.  They were easily ignored.  Then came pop-up ads, leading to the use of pop-up blockers. Then advertisers/publishers started using Flash to make animated ads with sound, leading to the use of Flash blockers. Then they started using Javascript to hijack pages and force people to view ads, leading to the use of Javascript blockers.  It just keeps escalating, and finally, maybe, even into court.

The AdBlock product isn’t completely clean either.  One can question their motives when they say “We are being paid by some larger properties that serve non-intrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative.”  Limewire bundled spyware.  That doesn’t change the reality in either case.  The problems these products are solving were created by choosing your own business interests over those of your consumers.  You can’t solve that problem in court.  You agree?

Leave a comment

Filed under Consulting, digital media, Huh?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.