Marty Lafferty has been attending cable-TV conventions for decades, on behalf of program networks and interactive media technologies. At this week's Western Show here, Lafferty will attend in an entirely different, far more challenging role: conciliator for the digital copyright wars.
As founding CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA.info), he is trying to build a coalition of carriers (including cable operators), technology suppliers and copyright holders to create a business model that supports peer-to-peer file sharing — and generates revenue for all three sectors.
Lafferty will also speak on Thursday's panel, titled "Learning From KaZaA: Digital Rights and Wrongs." It's an appropriate venue, as DCIA's initial backing comes substantially from the Australian firm that owns KaZaA, the notorious peer-to-peer (P2P) music file-sharing operation.
Given his background, Lafferty is intent on recruiting cable operators into the process before P2P video sharing becomes the next battlefield.
"MSO broadband [Internet service providers] have a wealth of experience in managing content-based businesses and can take the lead in developing and deploying the solution [that will] protect and monetize copyrighted works in the rapidly evolving digital distribution," Lafferty said.
DCIA has designed a business model in which ISPs (including cable broadband operators), content companies and device makers collaborate on a revenue-sharing solution.
"Cable industry expertise is what is needed now … for the entertainment industries to implement necessary new monitoring and billing mechanisms," he added. "Our concerns are the inability so far of ISPs, including those operated by MSOs, and content rightsholders to respond to these technological advances of the Internet, particularly the lack of innovative business models for entertainment services. This has led to wrongfully equating unfortunate abuses of P2P with the technology itself in an effort to slow down its advancement."