Determinants in the On-line Distribution of Digital Contents: An exploratory analysis
The article discusses the results of an empirical study on about 600 websites which distribute digital media content. For each website, data has been collected on a range of features including the distribution methods, the technical restrictions imposed on content, the right management and licensing systems and the revenue models adopted. Using a 'bottom-up' clusterization technique, the data collected reveal unexpected characteristics of the current landscape for online distribution of digital contents. While it is commonly assumed that the current legislative framework tends to incentivise a system based on strong legal and technological control over the contents, the cluster analysis shows that online distribution has evolved into four main models. Moreover, it reveals that legal factors are not the most relevant ones in shaping a landscape which is mostly determined by technology.