This Ask John post was from January 2007, but everything John says is worth reading. Excellent reading, and just happens to address my obsession of the moment.
If it seems like I'm rattling of a lot about this issue, it's only because I think it's such a spectacular idea. For a "long tail" environment like foreign and independent animation, digital distribution that forgoes DVD entirely makes perfect sense. Heck, this is going to be the future of the movie industry. You know that. We all know that. The same thing that happened to music will happen to television and movies. This is all part of the very fabric of the internet.
Coming back to John's column, there are two points I heartedly agree with. The first is DRM, or Digital Rights Management. This is the same copy-protection racket the music business tried. It's just as absurd and counter-productive then as it is now. DRM has no right to exist. Heck, I'll make more money with absolute freedom, doing things my own way (and I'm very much in favor of running with the long tail), than trying to resist the tides of the ocean with the suits.
Sorry, Charlie. The old business model is extinct. It died the moment Napster dropped. But that's alright. The new paradigm will be bigger and better. There will be more money to be made for us in the long tail. There will be new opportunities. And there will be far more people stepping up to the plate - not only consumers, but providers as well. The internet will unleash the greatest explosion of art in human history.
I came up with this idea today while surfing around the Apple store at the Mall of America. The internet is the greatest psychedelic ever created. It's our greatest invention for the pursuit of boundary dissolution, transcendence, and the blending of community.
So...uh, no, I don't like DRM. I would do everything in my power to resist it.
The second point in John's column is more problematic: if any studio or publisher can simply place their content online, why bother with licensing at all? Why doesn't the Japanese copywright holder of, say, Future Boy Conan, simply handle it themselves? I'm afraid I don't have an answer for that as yet. Perhaps this is something for the skilled salespeople to sweet-talk their way through.
Hopefully, the suits don't fully realize what we're facing. They're still thinking of broadcast and DVD sales. The idea of iTunes hasn't quite clicked yet. Sooner or later, however, they will wake up, and everything will appear online overnight.
Still, I don't think anyone's thought of using digital distribution exclusively; that is, doing away with the commercial DVD altogether. This is a far better strategy for those obscure titles, the long tail - which just happens to be where my interests lie. I'm not a fan of most modern anime; let's face it, the stuff I promote on this blog ain't exactly Dragon Ball or Naruto.
This could prove to be another advantage. It's far easier to sneak the barbarians under the gate this way. Smaller, more obscure titles that have already been deemed unsellable for the American market may be easier to steal away.
So, answering question number two: pray the suits at Toei and Nippon Animation don't get wise. I have some more ideas that may help...for the next post.
Oh, btw, on the Ask John page, is that dog with the rainbow hair a reference to the infamous "John 3:16" sports fan? I wonder if anybody ever caught that.