If the Recording Industry Association of America doesn't zap Napster, Sony certainly will.
At least that's what Sony Pictures Entertainment US senior VP Steve Heckler told attendees at the Americas Conference on Information Systems 2000 this past weekend.
"The [music] industry will take whatever steps it needs to protect itself and protect its revenue streams," Heckler said. "It will not lose that revenue stream, no matter what."
Fair enough, you might think. That is after all the reason behind the RIAA's legal action against Napster, though it's nice to have an industry executive admit that the case is about control of "revenue streams". Sony Pictures Entertainment operates alongside Sony Music Entertainment, an RIAA member.
But Heckler's comments, as reported by the U-Wire Web site, US news service aimed at college students, get better: "Sony is going to take aggressive steps to stop this. We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at source - we will block it at your cable company, we will block it at your phone company, we will block it at your [ISP]. We will firewall it at your PC.
"These strategies," Heckler told conference attendees, "are being aggressively pursued because there is simply too much at stake."
Particularly for Sony, which is aggressive basing its digital content strategy around the ability to sell music and movies into the home via broadband Net connections and (ideally) PlayStation 2 consoles.
Of course how practical and effective are the strategies Heckler outlined remains to be seen, and his comments should perhaps be read more in the light of what could happen if Napster wins the legal battle - which seems pretty unlikely right now. Building Napster-blocking technology into browsers and other Web-enabled apps and devices is plausible, but would depend on universality to be effective - and there are plenty of OSes and system that Sony and others would not be able to get its code into.
Point is, though, the powers that be in the music and entertainment industries are not going to let this one lie. ®