Selling Copies of Copies of Copies

February 5, 2008


A friend points me to Kevin Kelly’s ‘Better Than Free‘ post. Highly relevant for those of us in the information business, where free content and copying are disruptive influences. (Disruptive is good in my book, BTW). The whole premise behind the old movie ‘Multiplicity’ has eroded; the humor arose from the belief that any copy is inherently slightly degraded from the original. I wonder if someone raised in the current digital environment would laugh even once during that movie…

I think Better Than Free should be read by those in other businesses too (unless they prefer the RIAA strategy of denial). Here’s a mental game: pick an industry that we’d think of as bulletproof against erosion by frictionless digital distribution. Now ask yourself how you’d erode their share if you entered the game as a disruptive competitor leveraging frictionless distribution. Set that business up, then ask yourself how you, as an incumbent, would defend against that disruption.

I’d appreciate it if you’d share any insights this mental game gives you. And if it gives you a great idea that makes you rich…feel free to share more than insights.

Update: I am going to set up a 10-terabyte storage array in the garage. Then I am going to download ‘Multiplicity’ from BitTorrent. Then I will make copies upon copies of it until I have filled all 10 TB. If that’s not conceptual art for the digital age I don’t know what is.


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