For the pooh-bahs at traditional media companies, re-establishing control over their digital material was paramount in 2007.
Some were more successful than others.
For example, NBC Universal broke from YouTube and iTunes to sell digital downloads of TV shows on its own sites, Hulu.com and NBC.com. In contrast, the music industry saw Radiohead create a furor by distributing music, independent of the labels, via the Internet.
The changes were dramatic considering that up until this year, techies have largely had their way with old media. The rise of digital downloads and file sharing has decimated the music sector. In the still-blossoming Web video arena, scores of people continue to post TV shows and film clips to YouTube.com in violation of copyright law.
For a while, the practice appeared unstoppable. Hollywood was advised to accept the inevitable and use YouTube as a promotion tool. Sumner Redstone, however, refused to allow outsiders to dictate where his shows appeared.
Instead of cutting a deal, the cantankerous Viacom chairman filed a $1 billion copyright lawsuit against the Google-owned YouTube. The suit is still winding its way through the courts even after Google launched a long-awaited system designed to scrub the site of copyright work.
NBC Universal followed Viacom's move by from YouTube. The network also pulled downloadable TV shows from Apple's iTunes. Techies predicted that such a digital strategy would flop.
But Hulu.com, the video site created this year by NBC Universal and News Corp., has received glowing reviews. And recently, a report from Forrester Research served making peace with NBC Universal for the sake of iPod owners. What would fill those iPod video screens if iTunes began losing the big networks?
Meanwhile, darkness continued to descend on the record industry's traditional business model.
The massively popular band Radiohead announced in October that it would become the first major act to promote and distribute an album online without the backing of a music label. In another groundbreaking move, the group told fans to pay whatever they wanted for the digital version of their latest album, In Rainbows. Other acts quickly followed with similar offerings.
The news wasn't all bad for at least some of the labels in 2007. EMI won kudos from music fans for stripping digital rights management (DRM) from its songs. Apple's Steve Jobs, of all people, implored the other three major record labels to follow suit.
Looking ahead to 2008, it's doubtful that adopting unprotected MP3s is enough to stem the bleeding in the record business. Expect layoffs and other cutbacks at the labels as well as more tinkering with business models. As for Internet video, look for greater competition as cable, satellite, and traditional broadcasters battle Internet companies for eyeballs.
As Hollywood adapts to online realities, video-sharing sites could soon face a day of reckoning.
Media company seeks more than $1 billion in damages, claiming nearly 160,000 unauthorized clips appear on video-sharing site.
Also piling on in the online video effort are AOL, MSN, Yahoo and MySpace, and some big-time advertisers, too.
Sales of unprotected music at retailers could help determine whether record industry adopts open MP3s.
Media executives thought YouTube would have copyright filtering technology months ago. They're still waiting.
Overlays that appear briefly at the bottom of videos annoy some viewers, but overall response to the experiment is mixed.
Decision could mean companies may be compelled to turn over RAM data. TorrentSpy vows to continue legal fight.
Band tells fans to pay what they wish; move is first attempt by top act to distribute album without label backing.
Federal jury orders woman to pay $9,250 for each song she shared online. EFF attorneys already lining up to help in appeal.
Despite negative public image, record industry group has little choice but to continue lawsuits, insiders say.
Company that played a pivotal part in YouTube's rise is pulling out of deal to boost prospects of own site, Hulu.com.
Once considered a pioneer in online music distribution, the musician has since turned testy about fan sites and file-sharing.
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