Jonathan Taplin: How Piracy is Killing the Content Economy
Jonathan Taplin is a Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and Director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. Taplin’s areas of specialization are in international communication management and the field of digital media entertainment. Taplin began his entertainment career in 1969 as Tour Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese’s first feature film, Mean Streets which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin produced 26 hours of television documentaries (including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS) and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz, Until The End of the World, Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival five times.
In 1984 Taplin acted as the investment advisor to the Bass Brothers in their successful attempt to save Walt Disney Studios from a corporate raid. This experience brought him to Merrill Lynch, where he served as vice president of media mergers and acquisitions. In this role, he helped re-engineer the media landscape on transactions such as the leveraged buyout of Viacom. Taplin was a founder of Intertainer and has served as its Chairman and CEO since June 1996. Intertainer was the pioneer video-on-demand company for both cable and broadband Internet markets. Taplin holds two patents for video on demand technologies. Professor Taplin has provided consulting services on Broadband technology to the President of Portugal and the Parliament of the Spanish state of Catalonia and the Government of Singapore.
Mr. Taplin graduated from Princeton University. He is a member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and sits on the International Advisory Board of the Singapore Media Authority and is a fellow at the Center for Public Diplomacy. Mr. Taplin was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Broadband Task Force in January of 2007. He was named one of the 50 most social media savvy professors in America by Online College and one of the 100 American Digerati by Deloitte’s Edge Institute.
Jonathan Taplin: Well, I would argue that piracy is problematic. I come at it from a very simple way. If you look at the music business, pretty much every piece of content in the world is available legitimately. Whether it's through iTunes or Spotify or anything else, all of which you have to pay some money, it's not a lot, but it's some money. And yet still the amount of piracy out there is huge in the music business, which says to me that free can never, you know, free always wins over something that costs something. The second problem I have is that much of piracy is ad supported. So Pirate Bay or most of the big pirate sites are supported by advertising.
So the history of the media business is always that advertising was the support for making content. When Procter & Gamble put money into making soap operas, it was literally to pay for the content, the advertising paid for the content. The problem with Pirate Bay, or any of the big pirate sites that take in millions of dollars of advertising is none of that money ever goes back into paying for content. So in that sense they're not recirculating the money to build the content economy. And ultimately if all the advertising money moved from legitimate to pirate, then there would be no content economy whatsoever.
Whether we can overcome that is really a matter of decision on the part of advertisers. Do they want to be on these pirate sites or do they want to support Spotify? Do they want to be supporting, you know, illegal content or do they want to support legal content. And that will make the final decision.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
Free always wins over something that costs something.
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