Monthly Archives: January 2014

What the 1984 Betamax ruling did for us all –

It had no precedent and while Sony’s Betamax format lost out to VHS this groundbreaking US Supreme Court ruling, 30 years ago today, in favor of Betamax is why we can rejoice about much of the technological innovation we benefit from today.

There is much talk today about how the US Supreme Court is set to hear the Aereo lawsuit brought on by broadcasters and the many parallels to the Sony Betamax case.  As Aereo CEO + Founder, Chet Kanojia, stated in the company blog:

“This case is critically important not only to Aereo, but to the entire cloud computing and cloud storage industry. The landmark Second Circuit decision in Cablevision provided much needed clarity for the cloud industry and as a result, helped foster massive investment, growth and innovation in the sector. The challenges outlined in the broadcasters’ filing make clear that they are using Aereo as a proxy to attack Cablevision itself and thus, undermine a critical foundation of the cloud computing and storage industry.

“We believe that consumers have a right to use an antenna to access over-the-air television and to make personal recordings of those broadcasts. The broadcasters are asking the Court to deny consumers the ability to use the cloud to access a more modern-day television antenna and DVR. If the broadcasters succeed, the consequences to consumers and the cloud industry are chilling.

What many may not realize is how the Betamax ruling influenced the birth of the digital music industry and helped a little known company, Diamond Multimedia, defeat an RIAA lawsuit against its Rio MP3 player.  The year was 1999 and the way we consume music has never been the same since.


No Al Gore didn’t invent the internet, however, some little known Frenchman — Louis Pouzin — played a major role in the birth of the Internet that greatly influenced Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (the birth fathers of TCP/IP).

What I like most about this Wired magazine article is how it acknowledges “simple” as a prerequisite to the open nature of the world wide web: Without Pouzin’s work on datagrams, plus Cerf & Kahn’s work of course, we wouldn’t have networks capable of freely exchanging information.

What did you set out to do as an artist with a label deal — create? connect?? and collect???  Use to be all you had control over was the creative process, then again that was seriously compromised because of the money you were borrowing from your label to connect with your fans; touring, videos, press & promo junkets, radio promotions, etc. – all of it costs money and you pay for it because of the recoupable clause in your recording agreement.  And forget about collecting the money you earned, you’re entirely at the mercy of the labels, publishers and their PRO cronies (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Harry Fox, and now SoundExchange) which should explain your paltry royalties.

Record labels are banks today, and the terms of their loans are still as bad as they were years ago. Create on your own time and dime; connect directly with your fans; collect directly from your fans, and their friends, and friends of their friends.  Embrace technology; be digital; create content not just music; speak directly and daily to your fans; give some of it away and it will come back to you tenfold.

Remember this tip from my uncle Pouzin: keep it simple stupid 😉