Thursday, March 07, 2013

Chicken and Egg: Technology and Content?

We often assume that those driving the market and the leading marketplace are the same and would expect to find the US number one in intellectual property, its ownership, creation and consumption. With the exception of the far eastern players, such as Samsung, Sony, LG, etc. the technology drivers and leaders all have strong US origins and bases, but the content , or IP drivers are outside of that marketplace.  

In an interesting blog post ‘Foreign Ownership of Firms in IP-Intensive Industries’ by Jonathan Bland , he highlights how the actual ownership is often outside of the US centric marketplace. His argument that this questions whether US copyright favours these owners ahead of US citizens is interesting but far more interesting is the fact that everyone sees the US as the digital market leader but the content that underpins that marketplace is effectively produced and owned from outside the marketplace where digital is not so prevalent. Bland cites some interesting examples below which he claims demonstrate the ownership of publishing is from outside the US and he lists others such as music, film, games, patents and pharmaceuticals which are similar.

·         Four of the “Big Six” publishers, the largest English language trade publishers, are foreign-owned. More than 80 percent of the global revenue of the Big Six is generated by these foreign-owned companies.  These foreign-owned companies published more than two thirds of the trade books in the U.S.
·         Four of the five largest STM (science, technical and medical)/Professional publishers are foreign-owned.  More than 90 percent of the revenue of the five largest STM/Professional publishers was generated by foreign-owned firms.
·         Only seven of the world’s 50 largest publishers of all categories are U.S.-owned.
·         The book publishing industry in Europe has approximately twice as many employees as in the United States.
·         Of the top ten best-selling fiction authors in any language whose work is still in copyright, five are foreign.  A British author wrote three of the top five best-selling books in the U.S. in 2012.

So is the push by the content and IP or by technology effectively pulling through the content. Is this why there tends to be a huge gulf between what the technologists expect from digital content and what is on the ground today and why the content appears somewhat conservative to the technology advances?

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