embedding permissions #2: on internet standards

In my post on the ability for third party sites to embed video from the major labels, I concluded with a dire point: Imagine a web in which every relationship had to be negotiated by hand. It would be the opposite of the internet.

I don’t want to beat up on the labels, which tech bloggers like myself do all the time, and which is dumb. There is no point to that. The labels operate under severe contractual and business constraints, with pop stars on one side and internet juggernauts on the other. What I want is to challenge them to learn how to prosper on the internet proper, and for the tech world to understand the details of the labels’ problems.

The labels need to learn how to make internet standards work for them. This is hard because everything about their business is predicated on manually negotiated agreements, while everything about the internet is based on automated agreements. An internet standard is a method of automating agreement between arbitrary participants. By definition a standard makes room for all comers on an equal basis. No matter who you are, if you write to the standard you can work together with other parties that write to the same standard.

The majors have a lot of problems, no doubt, but this is the one that matters. The internet is made of standards. Everything else can and will change. TCP/IP will go away someday. HTTP will go away. Everything will go away but standards. For the major labels to prosper on the internet they have to learn how to work with, instead of against, internet standards.