Netography 7 – the last bit of political economy

So as a paying customer of Drumeo I can pretty much ask anything I like from the support service team right? So I bombarded them with several questions:

“Hello! I am a recent drumeo edge member. My user name is JiaSiYang. I have some rather obscure questions as I am doing a month long project on drumeo as part of a Digital Ethnography project for my MSc in Digital Education. I would like to write a piece on the political economy of drumeo and it would be very helpful if anyone can answer the following questions:

 

  • Privacy – Why was the decision made not to share the website logs with other companies? What has been the cost and benefit of this decision?
  • Copyright – Railroad Media owns any materials posted by users. What does it do with said materials? Have you had any guest teachers be reluctant to teach on drumeo as they would no longer own the copyright to their recorded lesson? The terms state “You may print out any articles and activities for your personal use only….Materials may not be reproduced on another Web site, book, or publication without express written permission. Any reproduction or editing by any means mechanical or electronic without the explicit written permission of Railroad Media is expressly prohibited”, is this possible to monitor and enforce? What actions (if any) have you taken to date to protect your copyright? Song breakdowns – I take it that you can’t have the song playing in any of the videos without paying royalties to the copyright holder? How do users avoid copyright problems when they post videos of themselves performing covers on youtube? Can you not avoid copyright restrictions with the same method or does the fact you are run as a for profit company prevent that?
  • Business structure – Does railroad media inc have shareholders? Are there any shareholders that are not working for railroad inc? Diversification – Are there plans for drumeo but with other instruments? I thought I saw an advert for pianeo a few months back.

Should you be interested here is the course website for my MSc: http://edc17.education.ed.ac.uk/block-2-virtual-communities/ And here are the posts I have written so far on Drumeo: http://edc17.education.ed.ac.uk/djackson/category/eddigcul-best-for-commenting/netography/ Thanks for you help Dan”

After a few days I got a reply from the founder, CEO  and regular featured teacher of Drumeo asking if I could just pick 3 questions as this was a bit too much to answer. This in itself was interesting as it shows that Drumeo is still a small enough private enterprise that obscure customer questions can still get a personalised response from the head of the company. I don’t think I would have  got a similar response from Andrew Ng had I been asking questions about a Coursera MOOC.

So I picked my 3 most pertinent questions and here was the response I got (the writing in bold is Jared Falk’s):

Privacy – Why was the decision made not to share the website logs with other companies? What has been the cost and benefit of this decision?

 

We have not had requests to do this, but if we did, we would not share any private data with anyone. Since it has been a non-issue to this point, we don’t know what the costs and benefits are. 

 

Copyright – What actions (if any) have you taken to date to protect your copyright from violation by specific parties? Basically I am interested if you have the financial resources to check if people are using your materials without permission and then go after them if they are.

 

We do not actively seek out people stealing our videos and reselling them as their own. This happens all around the world, but it’s something that is so rampant you can’t control it unless you have access to large amounts of funds. Our model is to just focus on helping each individual drummer and making our ‘products’ feel more like ‘services’. It’s much harder for someone to download and steal a service. 

 

Business structure – Is Railroad Media Inc. still primarily invested in by people with a personal connection to company? Rather than publicly traded or anything like that.

 

There are only 3 shareholders with Railroad Media. I am the majority shareholder and sole director so every decision is made only by me. 

 

With this information I can firmly conclude that Drumeo is a relatively small enterprise which can (currently) put educational goals ahead of potentially revenue maximising decisions. It currently does not have the financial wherewithal to strictly enforce its own copyright but is a sizable enough commercial entity that it has to avoid violating other people’s copyright.

Personally, I feel that this business structure has an overall positive effect on the online community. Unlike many social media networks where I am becoming increasingly conscious that my every click is being harvested for its data trail and is ultimately furthering the corporation’s overall goal, the increasing of its share price. Within Drumeo however, this does not to appear to be the case. Although commercial it does adhere to its educational goals.