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Dear CMO: The exigencies of rapidly evolving markets often create strange bedfellows. One look no further than the wild west of the entertainment industry to see as many examples as you care to read.


Apple suggests DRM-free music to the major labels, which are desperate to find a way to save themselves from oblivion. We'll see what happens there. But the really interesting land grab is over on the studio side. There is an avalanche of soon-to-be-released video on demand (VOD) offerings ready to offer us more ways to watch the same movies as we do today.
Which leads me to this interesting piece of news that hit the wires the other day that made me almost spit my coffee across the kitchen. Did you read the piece about BitTorrent adding MGM's massive film library to their new and remarkably legit BitTorrent Entertainment Network?
Am I the only one who had pictures of smiling corporate types standing next to the Northern Alliance somewhere north of Kabul? Aren't these the same guys who, um, already offer just about every film already? For free?
I once did a bit of pre-project reconnaissance for a client in the storage industry, one of whose targets was the "BitTorrenter." Try to get a "BitTorrenter" on the phone. I dare you. I had friends tell me their siblings were big users with "massive amounts of stuff they've downloaded– gigabytes of stuff," only to have said brother or sister assume a pseudonym and deny everything, including being related to the sibling who fingered them.
You see, there are illegal aspects to unfettered peer-to-peer downloading which makes many users reluctant to have discussions with people they don't know. If I was a studio head, wouldn't these guys be the first people I'd want on my team?
Well, my answer would be "yes" and "no." It's more complicated than first blush might suggest, isn't it? If you can cast BitTorrent in a legitimate light ("– if you can just see our new allies in the Northern Alliance as friends and not mujahideen, Mr. Rumsfeld–") and cajole them into legal activity, isn't that a good thing?
And if we can't, is piracy such a bad thing? I recall a great case study involving our BitTorrent friends and Battlestar Gallactica's launch in Australia that suggested piracy did more to drive viewership than all the ad campaigns in Oz. I wrote about this back in December.
If MGM and BitTorrent can get along, what's next? Will we see Cisco and Hwa Wei collaborating on new router designs for China? And if we're comfortable with our new friends in the War on Piracy, why does this make me so itchy?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Stephen Denny

I've spent twenty years connecting brands to the wants & needs of technology users, as a consultant and as a front line executive managing the people, strategy and budgets at brand name companies like Sony, Onstar, Iomega and Plantronics.

This generally means that I've spent a lot of time saying "no" to very charming people and defending very creative marketing ideas in front of people who don't always laugh at my jokes.

What else can I tell you? I've lived and worked in the US and Japan, hold multiple patents, have lectured at top graduate schools and industry forums, and have a Wharton MBA, the diploma for which is somewhere in my office.

My consulting business is focused on helping consumer technology companies nail their branding so they get through the ambient noise in the market, as well as guiding them in how to win in the trenches of the channel, where all business battles are won or lost.

What you see on my blog, StephenDenny.com, is what I've netted out of the conversations I get to have with lots of smart people. Drop in and comment at your convenience ~!