Bitmunk has an interesting business model for distributing music and other digital content. It has some important features that could make it successful:
- Bitmunk provides a secure base for the business of exchanging digital goods and money. All users are authenticated.
- Artists can register their work directly and set their own prices.
- Others are encouraged to sell the work and even earn a fee for doing it thus encouraging support for the artist and distributing bandwidth requirements.
Bitmunk says they don’t use DRM but what they mean is they don’t use ‘strong’ Technological Protection Measures (TPM) that technically control what a consumer can do with their copy. The do use soft DRM though. Each traded work is uniquely watermarked and so can be identified if it starts being distributed in the wild. If this happens the consumer who originally purchased the work can be penalised by Bitmunk and possibly sued by the artist for copyright infringement. I wonder if this responsibility will be too onerous for the consumer? An honest consumer could accidental loose track of a copy and be penalized when an unknown third party illegally distributes the content.
Bitmunk also describes itself as a P2P service but again this only partly true. It does encourage a certain amount of distributed distribution where anyone can set up as a seller and earn a fee for the distribution of the content thus potentially relieving the load on the central Bitmunk service but here is the rub. Bitmunk centrally controls all transactions and charges 15% for doing it. This may be a valid, essential and worthwhile service but dose it fit a pure P2P model?
Watermarks are becoming popular:
Another company, Infoflows, has also announced digital object recognition by the use of unique watermarks. The trick this time is that the watermarks provide a link to the Handle system that in turn provides persistent links to the source of content, licenses or meta-data.