Time Warner gets a clue

It's a two step forward, one step back deal, sort of like watching a baby learn to walk. But eventually the baby does walk. The guess here is that Time Warner will adopt the open source walk as well, once it figures out how to make a buck off it.

For a decade now open standards have been anathema to the copyright industries.

But lately Time Warner has gotten a clue. (The tiny image in the corner of the logo at right, by the way, is a flying pig.)

The company's cable unit made a deal with FON which lets subscribers offer 802.11 wireless bandwidth to FON users, and will let FON market its offering to Time Warner users.

This is a big turnaround from past practice. Five years ago Time Warner Cable launched a "crackdown" against cable users supporting WiFi hotspots, and its Web site still defines those with unprotected WiFi as engaging in cable theft.

At the same time EMI, with which Warner Music has an on-again, off-again courtship, has agreed to let Apple sell DRM-free music, with higher quality than iTunes' usually offerings, and a slight mark-up for individual songs.

Warner Music itself had moved toward selling DRM-free music through Anywhere Music, then backed off, with legal papers flying on all sides.

It's a two step forward, one step back deal, sort of like watching a baby learn to walk. But eventually the baby does walk. The guess here is that Time Warner will adopt the open source walk as well, once it figures out how to make a buck off it.

The baby, of course, already knows. Look cute and smile, kid.

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