Sony has a unique perspective on the consumer-creator rights conflict being a manufacturer of computers, CD burners, DVD recorders and portable media players, in addition to owning a movie studio and a record company. The LA Times interviewed Kunitake Ando, Sony’s president and chief operating officer, on the prospect of resolving these matters:
- Q: How will consumers react to copy protection?
A: We need a little bit more advancement from technology, but from the users’ viewpoint, I don’t think it’s a good thing to get everything free on the Internet. Of course, there is a certain balance between usability and price and the ease of use and so forth. Right now, we are in the transition period. If you want to really develop a good content industry, we need certain protection, and the same thing for the consumer electronics industry.
Sony is in an advantageous position because, since we have both industries, we can really talk and discuss with each other within the group. In fact, we have a committee we call Contents and Technology, [where we] frequently discuss the benefit for both industries. So I think when we introduce new types of products, we are trying to be always ahead.
Q: Do you think the Sony Music side of the company has done enough to let consumers — and particularly Sony Vaio owners — do what they say they want to do with digital music?
A: Record label companies’ whole model has been sort of collapsed or broken. Package media sales are now decreasing instead of increasing. So it’s very clear that we have to change the way we do business in the music industry because they’re probably hard-hit from the network age. In that sense, I think the music label has to move faster.
As Steve Jobs of Apple [Computer Inc.] said, nobody wants to steal anything — if there’s a reasonable way [to buy it] and the price is [fair]. The music in-dustry has not caught up fast enough with the demands of the users. I think that once it settles, we’ll be OK.
….Q: Is there a risk that lawmakers, particularly those in Washington, might overreact and mandate certain technologies for content protection? Could that hurt your ability to compete and develop products?
A: Truthfully, I’m rather optimistic because both industries need each other. Right now, of course, there are sometimes heated discussions. The Consumer Electronics Assn. is saying very extreme things and the Motion Picture Assn. of America is saying [extreme things in] the other direction. It’s a really tough issue, but I think both industries will find a comfortable manner, so I’m not so worried.
This gentleman would appear to be a few major steps beyond the RIAA and MPAA regarding these matters.