Rights, Fingerprints and Big Data

Michael Cairns recently tweeted a link to an article in CIO Journal, “How Big Data will disrupt the $9 billion music publishing rights business“. In it, deputy editor Steve Rosenbush writes about TuneSat,

“… a startup that uses digital technology to monitor satellite TV signals from around the world and keep track of how music is being used in theme songs,  advertisements, background soundtracks and other broadcast situations.”

The technology developed by TuneSat makes it possible to use an audio fingerprint to identify a song based on as little as three seconds of use. Marry that to an ability to mine large data sets, and you get a proactive tool that potentially replaces self-reporting.

The music industry’s rights-clearance incumbents, ASCAP and BMI, dismiss the role of fingerprinting except as an supplement to their established approaches. They claim there are problems with audio fingerprinting, notably the risk of false positives.

Summing up: TuneSat offers a lower-cost, less-functional technology that meets the needs of an under-served market. Isn’t that the melting-pot definition of a market disruptor?

I think about this in part because this fingerprint technology already exists in publishing. Companies like Attributor are using it to track instances of piracy.

But what happens if Attributor or an equivalent starts to offer companies and rightsholders an option that moves away from the current model and toward direct tracking of actual rights use? If the technology and the ability to mine big data sets are already here, it could reshape an industry currently focused on how much content represents “fair use”.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.