Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

For Sale on iTunes, Free on YouTube

Here’s a YouTube ad for a $1.99 iTunes video, featuring a pre-Victoria’s Secret Bob Dylan, going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 and getting booed.

And here’s the full version of the song, for free, also on YouTube:

As the New York Times points out, the first version comes from The Speek, a British firm that specializes in selling vintage music videos, most of which are available for free, with a minimum of work, on the Web.

The Speek is never going to be a big business, because video music downloads are a small business that’s getting smaller: Last year, Americans paid a mere $36 million for videos, down from $41 million in 2008. But the fact that there’s any business at all is a good reminder that you can still sell digital goods even when the Web makes it easy to get them without paying a penny.

Another reminder: Music sales, period. The digital era has poleaxed the music business, shrinking it from a $37-billion-a-year industry to a $16 billion one in a decade. But it’s still a $16-billion-a-year business, which means that plenty of people are paying for stuff they can find for free with a couple of clicks.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik