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Re: Follow-up on rock band's interesting IP experiment

It's useful, and probably necessary, to distinguish between open access and product sampling.

The rock band Radiohead developed an innovative form of product sampling. The music appeared to be open access for a period of time, but now we see that the aim was to prime the marketplace for the sale of content. Digital media, with its negligible marginal costs, lends itself to extensive product sampling. Not all product sampling campaigns work, of course, but many do.

Advocates (Harnad, Suber, Swan, et al) of old-fashioned open access are fighting the last war, as they continue to press for something that is already happening and would happen without them, because the cost and ease of mounting content on the Internet is increasingly trivial (once the content is created). The problem with this traditional outlook is that it views the impersonal workings of technology and the economy through a lens of moral outrage. Readers of King Lear know that the wind blows whether or not we command it to "crack [its] cheeks."

The institutions that invest in the creation of content are increasingly learning to use the low marginal cost of Internet distribution as a form of product sampling. They will continue to learn and "open access" literature will be seen as but one node in a broader marketing network. And those institutions that do not learn how to do this will cease to invest in the original content. It cannot be otherwise because what does not have an economically sustainable basis cannot be sustained.

This does not mean that online product sampling, aka open access, is restricted to commercial organizations. Many not-for-profit cultural institutions are learning to do this as well. MIT's Open CourseWare project, is, among other things, a very effective aspect of brand marketing for MIT.

Joe Esposito

----- Original Message -----
From: <Toby.GREEN@oecd.org>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, January 11, 2008 7:08 PM
Subject: RE: Follow-up on rock band's interesting IP experiment

Worth reading the next paragraph too:

" The album, the first in four years from the closely watched British rock act, sold 122,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That represents a mixed result for the band. It's a sharp drop compared with the debut of Radiohead's previous album, 2003's "Hail to the Thief," but it's far from a flop, considering the steep decline in music sales in the last four years and the typically weak sales in the post-Christmas period. "Thief" sold about 300,000 in its first week in 2003."

To put it in context with one of our own experiences. One of our best-selling book series published a new edition in December. This time around we received funding to assist in covering the publishing costs so we put the e-book out for free (as opposed to Radiohead's pay-what-you-like system). Print sales are running at about 66% of the previous edition's sales.

Toby Green
OECD Publishing

-----Original Message-----
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of B.G. Sloan
Sent: 11 January, 2008 2:41 AM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Follow-up on rock band's interesting IP experiment

From today's NY Times:
"In a twist for the music industry's digital revolution, 'In
Rainbows,' the new Radiohead album that attracted wide attention
when it was made available three months ago as a digital download
for whatever price fans chose to pay, ranked as the top-selling
album in the country this week after the CD version hit record
shops and other retailers."

Full article:


Bernie Sloan