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image Warner Music Group sued Imeem, a social network site with music-and-video-sharing capabilities. It wanted $150K per item posted illegally.

Now guess who’s Imeem’s new business partner?

The idea is that Imeem will stream Warner music rather than allow unauthorized downloads. In return, reports the Washington Post, Warner gets a cut of advertising from Imeem and enjoys some nice online buzz. “If you can take that, sponsor it with advertising, and have an integrated way to buy, we think we can not only retain those customers but also grow the business,” the Post quotes a Warner exec. “The more music people experience, the more they’ll want to download and own.”

The e-book angle

So, gang, here’s a question. What if e-book publishers with piracy problems followed Warner’s lead and sought to befriend file-sharing sites? Would the same tactics work? Instead of streaming, the publishers could provide links to allow free file-viewing–which, as everyone knows, is often a real pain in the butt compared to downloads. Perhaps the viewing would be in a somewhat less than optimal format. At the same time the titles would be there for sampling in full, and if people were cash short and really liked a title, they could still read it to the end—such folks wouldn’t buy the book anyway. Meanwhile the publishers might think about dropping DRM and resorting to social DRM and watermarking, while nudging the file-sharing sites to cooperate and take down the illegally posted material.

Needless to say the same approach to sampling could be used from the start with legitimate e-stores, via links. In fact, I’d prefer that the publishers begin that way to reward the honest guys.

Important detail: E-book piracy isn’t nearly as major a problem as is illegal copying of music. But it could become one as displays and other technology improve.

 
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