09 August 2006

It's a Hit

I know little about baseball (or, indeed, any other sport), and care even less. But this Techdirt story about baseball statistics has some interesting aspects. The basic issue was whether anybody owns the factual information about baseball games. Obviously, you can't, because you can't copyright facts, but that didn't stop some witless, greedy company from trying (and failing).

What I found suggestive was the following passage:

baseball (and other sports) have made a lucrative practice out of licensing such information to video game makers as well -- and it seems likely this ruling would apply to them as well. Of course, if MLB were smart, they're view this as a good thing. Getting more real info about real players out there in fantasy and video games should lead to more fans and more interest in the overall sport -- leading to many more opportunities to make money.

So, here we have the sensible suggestion that organisations should be happy for certain kinds of digital information - in this case baseball stats - to be circulating in the public domain, because it will drive people to attend the real games in the analogue world.

For me, this has close parallels with music. It seems increasingly clear to me that the best thing for the music industry to do is to regard digital copies of songs as publicity. If they are passed around for free, well and good, because this will drive more people to concerts - the analogue instantiation of that music - which is increasingly where the money is.

The great thing with this model is that you can't copy the experience of a concert - you really have to be there (well, at least until virtual reality technology makes some serious advances). No more "piracy", and no need for punitive law cases. Result: it's a hit with everyone.

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