Digg and IP rights

Well after yesterdays fun and games (if you haven't read it, Mrs B and I have been talking about my new car, worth a read) we are back to the subject of business blogging.

And one of the top challenges in China (apart from marketing) is Intellectual Property. Now, I am not one to want to make lawyers any richer than they are, but the fact is that IP is important to all of us, whether we are a government employee or a corporate worker.

Fake or pirated goods are a big problem and there are many battles going on. However todays events on Digg regarding a DRM post and the ensuing mess that resulted are certainly worth noting.

Today, I watched with amusement as many Digg readers blasted the site with the DVD encryption crack code articles. Digg is all about user voting, and what makes the site (people power) actually brought the site down. Not necessarily a bad thing for web 2.0 but it will certainly make online marketing harder.

(Background if you don't know what happened - Digg took down one article that broke copyright (according to "a film studio legal letter") and so the Digg readers posted 1,000's of similar articles and voted on them.)

The issue is that by trying to eliminate a story, the studio (in this instance) has highlighted the issue to a much wider audience and upset their very consumers. Even worse they created a cause for people to jump on.

And the real irony is that DRM is by far the least of the movie studios issues as regards piracy. If they spent time in either Hong Kong or China (in fact probably most places in Asia) they would understand this.

Will these large corporations and their legions of PR & IP lawyers look at this example and learn? I'm sad to say that I don't think they will.

Smart marketers and SEO experts will though. Digg is used by many companies to gauge PR buzz and popularity, I have seen this on so many PowerPoint presentations it almost looses its effect. However, consumers trust these reviews and use them in their purchase decision making them important and very visible.

I compare the Digg effect to the equivalent of marketing dominoes - Once they start its very hard to stop them. This can be a power for marketing good as well as a brand threat.

When you look at China and all the pirated DVD's that are for sales (even in Hong Kong) you release that trying to take down one Digg article is pointless. The studios should be removing the DRM locks all together and thus giving people a higher quality product option over a pirate copy.

What we as marketeers have to remember is that the consumer always has a choice. Now, that choice is made (many times) though the internet, and increasingly through mediums that corporations do not control. In this case people gaining the code to unlock DVD's.

So back to Digg. They took down one article, the users put up 1,0o0's of "marketing dominios" (500,000 Diggs at the time of writing this)

I can't help but feel that the studios may have "won the battle" but I'm not sure that they are going in the right direction to win the war. And if they loose the war to make movies, we all loose in some form or another.

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