Chris Anderson: Those of you who have seen my speeches on the legal dimensions of the Long Tail know that I consider the absurdly complicated and expensive process of rights clearance to be the primary barrier to unlocking the latent Long Tail value in content archives.
The example I usually give is WKRP in Cincinnati, not because there’s necessarily a lot of value in that 1970s sitcom, but because it’s often cited as one of the hardest TV series to clear. Since it was set in a radio station, there are dozens of songs playing in the background of each episode. To release the series on DVD would require clearing the rights to each of those songs, which is too expensive and time-consuming for anyone to consider.
"The new music that was inserted into the show sucked ass. It was wrong for the feel and attitude of the show. Some scenes relied on specific songs at particular junctures (i.e., Les Nessman trying on a toupee to the soundtrack of Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”) . Those scenes were ruined. In many instances, we couldn’t even finesse the proper audio levels in order to cut the costs of replacing the music…"Allegedly, the original producer of the show (Hugh Wilson) was involved in replacing the Muzak with some other generic songs that are more palatable. While this is admirable, and Wilson has some great artistic instincts, it still isn’t enough to undo the damage."Note: I do think that musicians should be paid for their work, if that’s what they want. The problem lies with the convoluted rights clearance process, which imposes its costs mostly in delay and uncertainty, depriving both artists and fans of value from archived content. Nobody wins when WKRP in Cincinnati is released with a muzak soundtrack!
Via the Long Tail