Not to break up the party, but let me play the devil's advocate and speak for a moment for the suits. I agree with most of your major points, especially that online exploration generates paid sales & services, and that given a viable legal alternative most customers (well, enough to make the difference) would opt for it.
But amidst all this back-slapping, it seems to me like we're missing an obvious point. You're a better businessman than I am, so check me on this, but I don't think the money guys in Hollywood are going to "let go and trust" until they see a business plan that offers a real chance at profitability. They can't; unlike a privately held company, which can take risks based on the instincts of a smaller group of owners, media giants are publicly held. They have a legal responsibility to try to improve profitability and preserve the share price. Letting go and trusting is a good personal philosophy, but it'll get you sued in the board room, since that's not why thousands of investors are trusting them with their money.
We offer Hollywood no more assurance than our good wishes, and maybe the example that it worked out once before with VHS. We preach to them, starry-eyed, about the wonders of the web, explaining the power of eBay, Google and Napster. They scratch their head and look at the billions of dollars lost in web ventures over the past few years, and think, "Gee, I dunno..."
Until we can offer them something better, can we blame them as business people for taking a course of caution?
Wandering in the Land of Suits,
- Dave Sims