Digital Rights & Piracy

Smith and Telang

The technology explosion over the past decade continues to shape the way consumers obtain, digest and store information.

And it has drastically impacted the bottom line for digital content providers — from record labels to book publishers and production studios.

Michael Smith and Rahul Telang, professors at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, are experts on the issue.

Content providers may glean helpful insight from their work — methods and tactics they can employ to thrive in this digital age.

"This area of research is particularly intriguing for me," said Smith.

"I'm very interested in how electronic markets change not only consumer behavior, but also how these new channels are influencing the behavior of the providers," he explained.

"Our most recent study takes a close look at the impact adding digital distribution channels to existing physical channels can have on a company's bottom line."

Along with two co-authors, Smith and Telang published the paper titled Converting Pirates without Cannibalizing Purchasers.

The research team discovered an interesting indicator.

According to Smith, "consumers weren't making the choice to consume legally vs. illegally, but rather the research is telling us the choice is primarily digital vs. analog."

He added, "In a nutshell, if content providers offer a digital channel that competes with pirate channels, they could significantly cut into the piracy that is occurring."

Telang and Smith are both recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award.

Their work relates closely to curriculum included in Heinz College's Master of Entertainment Industry Management (MEIM) degree program.

"The environment surrounding the industry today is less about distributing through antiquated channels and more about providing individual experiences to consumers at the moment they desire and on devices that are convenient to them," said Dan Green, director of the MEIM program.

"Students in the MEIM program are taught to use the analytic skill set instilled through their Heinz College education to think innovatively about how entertainment products can be distributed in this new information age."

Related Links: Download the Paper | MEIM Program | Heinz College

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