A New Spin on Sharing Copyrighted Content
A company called Digital Containers launched today that wants to change the way content -- specifically, copyrighted content -- is shared over the Web. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based firm promises to finally let content owners deliver and -- drumroll, please -- actually profit from distributing TV shows, movies and songs over the Internet.
Here's how it works: Digital Containers works with media companies to "package" pieces of content, like an episode of "Lost," in a container with an encrypted seal. As it's passed from person to person, each new viewer that "unzips" the container agrees to either watch a few ads, or pay a few bucks, in exchange for getting premium content. When that viewer passes the container to another user, that person also starts a "relationship" with the media company that produced it. You may have to tell the company how old you are, or whether you're male or female, which then helps to sell ads. Or, if you happen to share a lot of Jonas Brothers' songs with friends, Disney may want to give you a reward or incentive for spreading the music and helping to build the brand.
Who knows if it will work, but it's a different approach that sounded pretty interesting.
And for those of you familiar with the local tech scene, you'll recognize the company's new CEO: Tom Patterson. You may remember him as the former head of Command Information, an IPv6-focused firm in Herndon. He was a staple at Washington area tech events for a while as well.
I had a brief chat with him this afternoon to get more details. The "container" allows content to be packaged in a way that provides a "richer experience," he said.
"Instead of just having a song, it comes in a container that's chock full of extras," he said. "A musician can include lyrics to the song, liner notes that typically come in albums, upcoming tour dates. They can integrate merchandise into the same container."
So how does Digital Container make money? It acts as the middle-man in the transaction, taking a piece of the revenue from a subscription fee, or T-shirt sale, that comes as a result of sharing the container.
The company's been around for over a decade, coming up with patents and developing its software, Patterson said. He's secured another $2 million and is officially relaunching the company.
Think the idea's a crazy one? Or just crazy enough to work?
August 13, 2008; 5:14 PM ET
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