A recent story by Forbes' Dan Ackman highlights an interesting development many people might have missed: Sharman Networks, which owns the infamous Kazaa file-swapping service, has signed on to distribute the Bollywood Hindi-language movie Supari to users of its peer-to-peer network at $2.99 a pop, about the price of a movie rental. The files, according to the article, can only be watched once and cannot be copied. (Well, everything gets cracked eventually.)
The overarching idea, in short, is that some content producers believe peer-to-peer networks can be an effective, economical distribution channel. It's unsurprising that such an idea would appeal to independent musicians and movie producers.
This isn't to say there's not still plenty of acrimony surrounding file sharing. Even as online music -- led by Apple
In the end, it's still encouraging to hear of promising ways content producers are learning to work with file-swapping services. The latter have had success building strong consumer brands -- mainly at the expense, to be sure, of copyright holders -- and a service whose utility captured the imagination of millions.
Many powerful content producers are finding their way in digital distribution now. They'd love to make services like Kazaa irrelevant, whether in court or by exercising market muscle. Potentially meaningful announcements like the Supari news will probably do more toward preventing that than raising a pirate flag.
If you owned a file-sharing service, how would you run the company? Swap ideas without fear of reprisal on our Napster discussion board.
Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at email@example.com.