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TheStreet Open House

The Digital Skeptic: World Of Copyright Woe Awaits in Global Markets

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Even with the sliver of English he's speaks, Paul Achar Zavalza can describe perfectly the big issue faced by Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and even Google (GOOG) when it comes to global markets.

"It's the same problem," said Zavalza, president of Sociedad Mexicana De Autores De Las Artes Plasticas, a Mexico-based plastic arts rights organization. "Online, you do more, you get less."

Zavalza is one of roughly 3,000 global-rights managers, intellectual content management companies, musicians, artists and consultants gathering here for the World Creators Summit, organized by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

Investors should find this schmoozefest refreshing: The average attendee age is very much on the "plus" side of 40-plus. English is definitely the second language. And there's none of the venture-capital-driven goofiness that renders most such industry-oriented discussions of the future of the Web just so much nonsense.

These content management professionals fly in from all corners of the globe to get the latest intel on what it takes to keeps the world's copyright infrastructure alive. That is, tracking when a performance of a work occurs either live or via mechanical means, figuring out what the creator is owed for that performance, distributing those fees efficiently and protecting the original creation from being stolen in the first place.

The deep investor takeaway? American-based Web content giants -- and that means Netflix, Amazon, Google and all the rest -- are fooling themselves if they think expanding in the global content market is going to be anything but complex, brutal and terribly slow.

Absolutely not one world
What's this global summit shows is there is no such thing as a single global market for art, music, movies, stories or other forms of information.

"People in Iceland want to look at YouTube posts of people in Iceland," said Guorun Bjork Bjarnadottir, general manager at STEF, the Performing Rights Society of Iceland. "And every other country here feels the same way."

This passionate regionalism for stories, movies and art is worsened by a digital content network that struggles to monetize ideas consistently around the globe. Take Rogojina Sergiu, a lawyer at Okuasp, the Organization of Collective Management of Copyright and Neighboring Rights in Ukraine, a 2-year-old start-up that collects artists' fees in that country.

"We see a growing opportunity in administering artist's rights," Sergiu says. He explains that even in the Ukraine -- which is on the U.S. government watch list for piracy -- he has had success in collecting fees at live events and restaurants. But the Internet, he says, is "not real at this moment. There is no market for that now."

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