Open Business Systems Fill Gap In Mainstream Entertainment Industry12/09/2008 by Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch 3 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.By Kaitlin Mara Outside the realm of mainstream proprietary entertainment, owned by big studios and protected by brand names, lay large numbers of artists without audiences looking for the means to distribute their creativity, and groups of people who yearn for art reflective of experiences not touched upon by the mainstream movies and music. These artists have created independent side industries that challenge conventional views on piracy.Such expression used to be the property of neighbourhood streets, or oral tradition, but the digitising world has brought with it two important changes: on the one hand, localised forms of creation and communication are being outpaced and outcompeted by mass media capable of faster movement and farther penetration; on the other, the internet and the rise of personal recording equipment – coupled with its falling price – has placed the power of communication within reach of those who want to grasp it.“We have cultures literally vanishing,” said Charles Igwe of motion picture information and services company The Big Picture, which advises the successful Nigerian film industry: “each time someone dies, it is like losing a library.”The issue was addressed at a 9 September panel of Yale University Law School’s third annual Access to Knowledge conference.In Brazil, said Ronaldo Lemos from the Center for Technology and Society at Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) law school in Rio de Janeiro, major music company Sony/BMG releases about 13 new compact discs a year. “Where,” asked Lemos, “is the Brazilian music?”The answer to that question is that out of these previously unrecorded spaces, several independent industries have grown, with unique ways of creation, recording, and distribution.The Brazilian website TramaVirtual, for instance, boasts over 60,000 artists: “an entire generation of art and music coming from this website rather than the traditional music industry,” said Lemos. A popular form of Brazilian street music, tecnobrega, sees the production of about 400 new CDs and 100 new DVDs every year, he added, “but you won’t find them in stores.”This music is instead distributed directly to street vendors. The same people normally thought to be selling pirated material have a deal with tecnobrega in Brazil to sell the real thing, explained Lemos.Such people are sometimes dismissed as pirates, said Regina Casé of Pindorama Produçes Artisticas, which she argued is unfair as the music is theirs. Regina Casé, with help from Ronaldo Lemos, talks about the relationship between prejudice towards certain communities and the label of piracy Casé spoke of her organisation’s work in televising this music scene, at first in Brazil and increasingly around the world.“We travel,” she said, “to places no one had an interest [in] before and show people that were invisible to most… then we noticed that TV was no longer what you normally see.” This TV programme was dubbed Central da Periferia – the Centre of the Periphery – and plays the kind of music wildly popular in peripheral areas, and often neglected by mainstream record makers. They document distribution methods such as the “candonga” – vans with speakers, so that people can listen to new music as the driver drives through a neighbourhood.A single episode of Central da Periferia may reach over 100 million people, she said. On one video clip, grinning musicians triumphantly grip the keyboard and cheer, “Let’s hear it for the technological outsiders!”Nor is Hollywood immune from this outpouring of creation from marginal areas. In 2005, according to Lemos, Brazil released 51 new movies a year, the United States 611, India 934, and Nigeria 1,200. In Nigeria, the cost to purchase a film is $3, and $0.50 for a rental. From these sales, the industry generates $200 million a year, the third highest in the world after the US and India.Igwe said that after a 1992 decision to commercialise television broadcasting in Nigeria, stations decided it would be cheaper and easier to buy a foreign product. But there was a leftover and undersupplied market for the old Nigerian TV stars and programmes that were then off TV. A movie made with some of these stars sold 200,000 copies in a week; making clear the potential in this industry.Demand quickly outpaced the supply and soon pirate copies of films were making their way into the market. Igwe said the industry faced two options: to look for collaboration to stop counterfeiting and piracy – an expensive prospect in a fledgling industry with no state support – or allow that every disc, legitimate or not, that went into the market “created an audience for us.” Behind the piracy, explained Igwe, was a desire for more of the product; in the wake of piracy, even more new markets opened up. Charles Igwe discusses piracy in the Nigerian film industryThis is a key factor of open business, explained Elizabeth Stark of the Yale Information Society Project: they are “not relying on traditional means of exclusive rights.” When traditional means of licensing are not an option “people work outside the system, innovate to create these models.”And in the western world, alternative forms of distribution and licensing are catching on: the band Radiohead, for example, released its latest album In Rainbows on a “pay what you want” system. Another band, Nine Inch Nails, went even farther, noted Stark, releasing their latest album The Slip on a Creative Commons licence.In 2008, Igwe said, Nigeria’s film industry, dubbed “Nollywood,” is making 2000 films a year – and it is not just growing, “it’s mushrooming.” There is a “massive cultural revival” in Africa, he said. In Uganda, an Ugowood is growing; a Riverwood in Kenya is doing the same.The explosion of these films is the first time there has been a way to record traditions that are not conducive to being written down, traditions that are otherwise at risk of being lost Igwe said. Nollywood is a business, and has to be to survive, he explained, but it is a business with extraordinary social impact and social responsibility. Charles Igwe talks about the role of motion pictures in preserving Nigerian oral history in the knowledge economyWhat underpins much of this drive for new business models may have its roots in something even more fundamental than the desire for access to information. Rishab Ghosh of United Nations University Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) said of open source software, another form of participatory and open business, that the key issue is really about “not just access to consuming knowledge” but also “access to participation.”Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"Open Business Systems Fill Gap In Mainstream Entertainment Industry" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.