Why Ofcom's Code Of Practice Won't Fix The Piracy Problem

Today the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom released its anticipated Code of Practice for ISPs to help combat digital piracy (following hot on the heels of the tough Irish anti-piracy strategy). The Code forms part of the provisions of the Digital Economy Act and is a series of best practices for ISPs to follow rather than a new set of regulations. The intention is that copyright infringement will be seriously dented without need for more formal state intervention (such as the reserve powers of the Secretary of State to cut off repeat offenders’ broadband connections). I will be amazed if any statistically significant decrease in copyright infringement happens because of this Code being followed. Simply advising ISPs when and how to notify subscribers who are infringing copyright is not enough.

But I’m not saying that draconian state intervention is inherently necessary. Indeed, the preferred option is for legislation to establish clear limits and consequences but for consumers to be lured away from the illegal sector by compelling cheap and free alternatives. If ISPs and mobile operators are empowered with truly engaging services that give on-demand access to content on the terms consumers want and with most or all of the cost hidden, then file sharing will meet its match.

File sharing (on network and off network) exists because it fills a needs vacuum. A vacuum which neither iTunes nor Spotify sufficiently fill on their own. Subsidized, unlimited MP3 subscriptions would nip file sharing in the bud. Why would a teenager use BitTorrent when they can get the same music at higher quality and with clean meta data and that they can use however they like, all as part of their parents’ ISP bill?

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Ireland Introduces 4 Strikes And You're Out: First Take

Eircom, the Irish incumbent telco, has introduced a ‘four strikes and you're out’ anti-piracy policy, making Ireland the first European country to take such measures, beating even France to the punch. Under the provisions of the policy, the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) will supply Eircom with IP addresses of thousands of infringers from which the ISP will select just 50 a week and match them against postal addresses. These 50 will then receive notification letters, a phone call, and potentially a browser pop-up. If they are identified a 3rd time, they will have their connection temporarily cut off, and if they are caught a 4th time, they will lose access for an entire year.

There are a number of interesting issues here:

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Forrester’s European Online Ad Forecast: Rich Formats Will Push Display Ad Spending Higher While Search Growth Will Slow

One of the first tasks I settled on when I returned to Europe this year was to update our online ad forecast. After months of research, I’ve just published that report, ‘Western European Online Advertising Forecast Through 2014’ – and I’m happy to say that overall, the picture that’s developed is one of an industry returning to health. 2009 wasn’t a great year for the market, but thanks to a strong fourth quarter it wasn’t the terrible year everyone was expecting either – and more importantly, it looks like the weakness was a short-term blip rather than the beginning of a prolonged market slide. Western European online ad spending – which we define as the total of display ad spending and search spending in 17 countries – totalled €9.6 billion in 2009, and will grow to €13.9 billion in 2014.

When you dig a bit deeper, however, it becomes clear that different sectors of the market will have differing fortunes over the next five years. We think the big story between now and 2014 will be online display advertising. After a year of stagnation in 2009 – when it grew by just 1% across Western Europe – we think display is starting to look as healthy as ever. With huge advances in targeting helping response marketers deliver their ads to the right users, and with rich ad formats convincing brand marketers to shift more of their budget online, display will grow by 4% in 2010 and hit double-digit annual growth by 2013.

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From The HP Archives: Lessons Learned On Market Entry

International orders grew 34% for HP . . . not this year but actually back in 1964 when non-US orders accounted for 23 percent of HP’s revenues.  While the growth of non-US tech revenues is in the news today, HP’s international orders first exceeded domestic orders not recently but as far back as 1975.

In my research on market entry and market opportunity assessment (MOA), I recently spoke to strategists at HP about how they evaluate markets.  As I was leaving the building, I stopped in to the HP museum and spent some time with the HP archivist.   The highlights of the visit include seeing the first HP device built in the now famous Palo Alto garage and a calculator that brought back memories of my father in his overstuffed chair “figuring out how to pay for college.”  I was not only impressed by the history embodied in that room but also with the value that HP places on recording and memorializing its “life” as an organization.  Not to sound too sappy but it really brings the company and the industry to life.

I’ve spent the last few weeks reading through some documents on the history of HP’s entry into international markets.  There are valuable lessons to be gleaned from their experiences.   I’ve written about many of those lessons in reports and blog posts but thought I'd draw out a few of them here.

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