I hope you can read this with an open mind, and not a mind of “That will never work”.   I ask this because I have this idea which might very well take the Internet, or a big chunk of it to the “next” level.

Do I have to tell you that one of the most frustrating things I’ve see that has gone hand-in-hand with the growth of the Internet has been the music industry’s inability to adapt to the new media which the Internet has made available.

For those who have been busy, basically there has been very few dimensions of this – people getting music without paying for it.  We get that.  It’s wrong. (i.e.: illegal, and the laws that the RIAA has seen to have passed for them have gone far beyond the harm that the crime does, but that’s another post).

But the thing that’s bothered me has been the issue of derivative works and licensing.

First off, the music industry has to wake up about licensing.  It’s no longer the days when you could sell multiple copies of the same record because the old copy got a scratch on it or a cassette got jammed in the player.  Think about it.  Why should a user pay multiple times for licensing music when it’s just one person?  The days of fragile media are pretty much over, and the end of that generation of thought is coming to an end.

Time to move onto the next problem.  Derivative works.

Currently, if I take a video of someone’s birthday party, and they sing, God forbid, “Happy Birthday”, there can be a “charge” of copyright infringement.

If I were to take a bunch of pictures and make a montage of them in video and add some copy-written music which actually has some relevance to the subject (unlike about 90% of the music I hear on YouTube) my video would get yanked quicker than a $20 hooker.

So how could this work?

What if, on the consumer side, I had some software running on my computer which indexed every MP3 I have on my PC or even to some licensing / media server on the web.

Then, imagine if the player could link up a given, specific song to a video, to be played *along with* the video (pictures, etc).

Important Note: the video doesn’t have the song itself, but some meta-tags which will control the playback of the song (start-stop, volume) in synch with the visual presentation….

Perhaps the idea could best be explained with an example:

Say you’re a 17 year old kid with some great ideas.  You want to shoot a video with your digital camera and even your cellphone camera.  You want to send a message to people about how you feel about something.  You edit your video to use a popular song (example: “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones).

In today’s world, you’d pretty much have to stop there.  You would either have to be rich and come up with some licensing fees and some kind of agreement.

Record industry 0.  Creativity 0.

But what if there was some kind of special player which would take the video, and, either using a copy of a specific song that’s stored locally on the user’s computer, or dynamically downloading it from a server which acknowledges your license to use the song, the presentation could be viewed.

This inverts the current system of licensing.

This new system would make it the user’s responsiblity to manage the licensing of the music ala carte, instead of the content creator arranging some “bulk” purchase.

If the presentation used a song which the user didn’t have or own the rights to, then the software could guide them to obtaining those rights and then play the presentation.

Record industry 1!  Creativity 1!