It’s not news that the media and entertainment industries have been transformed over the past decade and a half by the widespread adoption of digital technology and devices. Nearly every corner of the business has had to adapt to new platforms, new ways of working, new metrics and new business models.
Virtually all recorded media content today is created or captured on digital devices and in digital formats, and where it isn’t it is quickly converted to a digital format. Content is processed, edited and packaged digitally, it gets distributed and delivered over digital networks, and it gets consumed on digital devices.
That transformation has brought enormous gains in efficiency and scale. Distribution platforms are global and delivery is instantaneous and on-demand. Marginal costs for produces have plummeted, as have prices for consumers.
But one link in the chain — the most important link — has until recently remained stubbornly analog: the management, transfer, and licensing of rights.
Rights — both copyrights and usage rights — are the foundation of value in any media business. Yet media companies today still manage vast portfolios of them, along with their associated receipts and payments, by paper contracts, with little if any metadata to connect them. Obtaining licenses is still largely a face-to-face process. Royalty payments are collected, aggregated and dispersed well after the fact and with little transparency into the whys and wherefores.
The results are enormous inefficiency and lost opportunity. Today, content can be created, distributed, remixed, and consumed at internet speed. But if the management and licensing of rights — the font of value for all of those digitally mediated transactions — can’t keep up the result is value is lost. Unlicensed uses proliferate, projects get abandoned, creators are cut off from their audience.
The RightsTech Revolution
Fortunately, things are beginning to change. Media companies are beginning to adopt enterprise scale asset and rights-management technology to help manage their rights portfolios the way they manage the rest of their business.
Innovators and entrepreneurs, meanwhile, have begun to explore how to use emerging technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies to flatten the process of licensing and the collection and payment of royalties, and accelerate it to the same digital speed at which content today is consumed, remixed and shared.
The RightsTech Project was created to convene and chronicle the bridging of the last major analog gap in the media value chain.
Please come join us.