Sony (NYSE:SNE) apparently hasn't missed the contradiction that the spread of digital content may sometimes be troubling in a copyright sense but it can also add up to great grassroots marketing. According to CNET, Sony hopes to harness the blogosphere to get its music videos in front of more people ... on its own terms, of course.

Sony BMG, the musical arm of Sony and Bertelsmann AG, is launching Musicbox Video, a site that will allow bloggers and people who run fan sites to link to music-related content -- videos, rare footage, and other clips from its labels, which include Columbia, Epic, and RCA -- for free. There's no copyright violation here, since Sony BMG will allow the bloggers to simply link to content channels instead of providing content that plays a little fast and loose with copyright. The videos on Musicbox will be distributed using Flash technology.

Interestingly, the company Brightcove will distribute the video content (and advertising -- a short ad will air before the videos play, and Brightcove has revealed that Dreamworks Animation SKG (NYSE:DWA) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) are among the first advertisers on board). Brightcove's gotten a fair amount of attention recently, seeing how it's the same company that's been helping TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) distribute video clips to its subscribers. Taking that into consideration, there are lots of ways such content could be distributed across many different platforms.

It's not hard to imagine the obvious benefits of Sony's plan -- theoretically, videos and other content could be easily added to user pages on News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) wildly popular MySpace or Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Blogger, for example, not to mention artists' websites and fan sites. On the other hand, those who link to the content will have no control over the programming itself; for example, if a blogger links to a channel for a specific video or artist, the link might play a different feature at a later date. Although blogs are extremely dynamic, with most successful ones featuring regular, if not daily, posts, the idea that the links might no longer be applicable in a short period of time seems like a downside.

Furthermore, Sony didn't do itself any favors last year when it pulled a stunt that left many people -- myself included -- thinking that the company's a bit overzealous about copyright protection. It's possible that plenty of consumers (including tech-savvy bloggers) remember that incident and now view Sony with a more jaundiced eye.

Perhaps the most interesting element here is simply the Brightcove connection, as digital video continues to gain in popularity and distribution (indeed, the CNET article pointed out that other music studios are considering similar moves as well). While Sony is arguably making a significant play to harness some of the creativity and viral promotion that are intrinsic to the Web right now, Brightcove is an interesting company to watch, since it seems to have a knack for inserting itself into the midst of media's current evolutions.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.