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Competition and the Regulatory Environment

In the preceding chapter I touched on several fairly sensitive aspects of the handling of content. In particular, DRM conversations can be fraught with strong opinions. But the topic is much broader than that. To really understand some of the historic evolution of the regulations that streaming and online content delivery engineers have to understand, one has to take a very encompassing view.

When I started webcasting, it was immediately apparent that I was entering a brave new world. There was a complete and utter sense of pioneering. The people who were interested and focusing on the technology were few and far between, and in terms of any regulation we were it. The only real regulation was one of our peers looking at what we were broadcasting or how we were using technology and sucking a tooth. The “policy” was highly opinionated and fell to each individual.

At the time the advertising standards bodies, the music licensing, the pornography “monitors” ... none of them had a strategy. Webcasts were open to tobacco funding, to running adult content 24/7, to streaming betting services from overseas, etc.

Sadly, I am not that “bad boy” - but I know so many groups and individuals who suddenly had unregulated businesses with access to vast new markets.

Particularly with porn, but also with betting and other content genres, the problem everywhere was that the companies were unable to prevent their competition taking market share from them. The porn industry had become so crowded that only occasional aggressive aggregators could rise up on the tide for their 15 minutes of “fame” but then loose out to the endless tide of unregulated competition.

So in the basic supply and demand economics, certainly as far as a content rights owner, or someone who monetizes rights, the digital age blew open the doors on not only the ability to deliver to the demand but also to the supply as it became relatively cheap to use a CDN.

The fairly regionalized regulators are still struggling to manage the content regulation, but that is, to me, no surprise. There is no “global” regulator beyond

Content Delivery Networks: Fundamentals, Design, and Evolution, First Edition. Dom Robinson.

© 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

WIPO, and they are ultimately part of the UN. In the next sections I will talk a little about how various key players are acting out a larger strategy than simple content and copyright.

I see all the supply-demand economics of the copyright content delivery models as existing in the “application layer” - in tech terms, layer 4.

Back at layer 3, we are trying to create an interoperable network framework, so we can easily provide access to our content inter-region.

But it is at layer 2 and below where the regulators are able to take some control over the very delivery networks themselves. This is where the content models that aspire to “go global” online need to develop more understanding, since we all have a strong but incorrect picture that the Internet is so decentralized that it is indestructible. That is how the Internet has developed a reputation as unregulated space for so long.

That could be changed though. To understand it, I need to take you back through some central parts of an Internet Governance Diploma sponsored by ISOC that I was privileged to take part in some years ago.

 
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