Following up on the piracy story from a couple days ago, on Monday The New York Times reported that RealNetworks is introducing a DVD copier application-- "a $30 software program for Windows computers that allows users to easily make a digital copy of an entire DVD — down to the extras and artwork from the box." The article goes on to discuss how the movie studios have fought such applications in the past, and how those protections and arguments appear to be weakening in the face of new tools that offer some piracy protection.
I think the key quote from the piece is the closing line: “Once you give consumers a legitimate path, you can do all kinds of other interesting things with them.” That is a lesson to remember for content producers and content sellers -- like college stores. College stores have an opportunity to work with content producers to find mechanisms that provide legitimate paths to digital content, and that must be done in an affordable way. We must define, design, and develop new business models and make the investments to establish industry capabilty and credibility in this domain. Otherwise, others will do it for us, leaving stores increasingly marginalized in the move to new mediums for content delivery. The new NACS subsidiary will be helping stores accomplish this goal. The first pilots will be starting in the next 6-8 weeks and more public announcements are soon to follow.