The long tail and the law

I caught Chris Anderson giving a talk on The Long Tail last week. The most interesting part of the talk (for folks who’ve read the Wired Article was the as-yet-unpublished research data showing using various data sets that prove that Long Tail businesses really do shift revenue mix from almost all hits, to a 50/50 mix of hits and niche products.
Several follow-on reflections. As revenue in the entertainment industry gravitates to the Long Tail, how long will it take for Amazon, Netflix, and others to start buying back the law from mass media capture?
A mass media, hit-based business sees its value as selling the same product to as many people as possible. Anything that modifies the product, or seems to displace a sale to an individual is seen as harmful. A “long tail” business sees its value as fostering many revenue-generating niches. Therefore, anything that fosters the creation of new niches and subcommunities is seen as beneficial.
There are at least three legal preferences that are purchased by hit-based companies, and would be modified by “long-tail” companies:
* Long copyright. A “long-tail” business would also be interested in clearing rights on old, back-catalog works for renewed distribution
* Criminalized sharing. A “hit-based” business sees sharing as stealing. A “long-tail” business sees sharing as the building of niches. See Yahoo Music and Grouper for examples in this direction.
* Criminalized remix. A “hit-based” business sees fan-community modifications as stealing. A “long tail” business sees fan community mods as the building of niches, and finds ways to make more money from enthousiastic and creative fans.

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