Monty Python Makes Money from Free Content
The next time you hear about a lawsuit from the Motion Picture Association of America or the Recording Industry Association of America, or hear complaints from these organizations that users pirating their content is costing them a fortune, consider Monty Python. This well-loved British comedy troupe took a bold step recently: they released some of their best material on YouTube, to be viewed for free. Along with the material, they included links to buy their DVDs on Amazon, as part of YouTube's new Click-to-Buy program.
As Monty Python explained, We're letting you see absolutely everything for free. So there! But we want something in return. None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies and TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years. You'd never expect such an appeal to work, right? After all, YouTube is the land of pirates, where users only go to view items for free, and no one is ever interested in buying something they can get without paying for it, right?
Wrong. Monty Python's DVDs reportedly snagged the number two spot on Amazon's Movie and TV Bestseller list. How much of a jump is that? According to some sources, it's a rise of 23,000 percent. At least for Monty Python, giving away some of your best content for free is a winning tactic they can take to the bank. One only hopes the MPAA and RIAA are paying attention to these numbers, and figure out they can make more money this way than by pursuing lawsuits.
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Why Japan Gets the Cool Tech First
Five years ago, consumers in Japan started using a handy cell phone technology that allowed them to pay for products by credit card simply by waving their phone over a reader. Users take advantage of the technology to purchase everything from train tickets to food to items out of vending machines. Everyone loves it. So why can't we use it here in the United States?
Would you believe that it's simply a matter of all the companies that would be involved in providing the technology not being able to get along? Specifically, they can't agree on how to split the revenue. In Japan, as it turns out, more than half of the cell phone users are with NTT DoCoMo, so where that company leads, others must follow. In the US, it isn't so simple; there isn't one big company with tremendous leverage, but lots of smaller ones, such as cell phone makers, carriers, financial institutions and retailers. The US also seems to lack a credible organization to act as a trusted intermediary to activate a cell phone's virtual credit cards. And while a customer is using a credit card to pay, they're using the cell phone to activate it, so the carriers want to get a cut of the action as well.
At the end of the day, the question is, Who pays whom and how much? explains
Gerhard Romen, director for corporate business development at Nokia.
The carriers and the banks need to get their act together on payment.
There is no issue with the technology itself. Dubbed Near Field
Communication, it's used over short ranges throughout the world
for tons of applications, including those involving an exchange
of money. Key Pousttch, head of the Wi-mobile research group at
the University of Augsberg in Germany, expects to see NFC as a feature
of most mobile phones by 2012, but describes the negotiation process
between players as a 2,000-piece puzzle and wouldn't be surprised
if nothing happens in mobile payments in the next five years.
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First Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Gets Go-Ahead
Eight years ago, then-president George W. Bush signed an executive order that drastically limited embryonic stem cell research, despite its tremendous potential to cure diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and others. In a moment of excellent timing (because President Obama had not yet lifted the order, but was expected to soon), the Food and Drug Administration approved the first human trial of embryonic stem cells in the same week as the inauguration of a new administration.
The clinical trial will be conducted by Geron Corp, a California biotechnology firm. The main focus will be on determining whether the treatment is safe. The trial, limited to eight to ten participants with crushed, but not severed, spinal cords, will try to use stem cells to stimulate the growth of nerve tissue. Geron CEO Dr. Thomas Okarma hailed the approval as marking the dawn of a new era in medical therapeutics.
The trial is expected to go forward with treatment for its first
patient this summer. Dr. Okarma believes that, if proven safe and
effective, such treatments could eventually become cheap and easy
because embryonic stem cells could be grown in vats. Meanwhile,
financial analysts noted that human embryonic stem cells could be
as important to drug therapy as the discovery of penicillin. And
other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies await approval
on their plans for stem cell trials.
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