VRM vs Affiliate Marketing
For copyrighted works, VRM could involve agreements made on an individual basis — ones that could involve actual relationships between copyright holders and their customers. For example, if I buy an open (non-DRM’d) copy of an album by Mike Marshall (my favorite mandolin player), it might involve letting him know who I am, the fact that I like his work, a commitment not to duplicate it beyond fair uses, and the option to do any number of things, including re-distributing it for pay that would get us both a slice of the take. The options are wide open. What matters is that there would means for a real reslationship based on mutual interest, trust and control.
If I like something enough to want to recommend it to people why shouldn’t I take a small amount of money from any resulting transaction? If I was to become an Amazon affiliate I could already get paid for recommending this album: except that I’d actually be getting paid for recommending this album at Amazon. That just makes me feel a little less comfortable than if I was able to get paid for recommending the artist alone.
Having spent about 30 minutes writing and re-writing to come up with that one paragraph above I’ve realised that I can’t quite put my finger on why I find the idea so powerful.
Maybe one of the things I like is the decentralisation that the model would imply. Rather than having one large distributor (Amazon) you have lots of smaller distributors (fans of Mike Marshall’s music). Hmm, food for thought.