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Entrepreneurs Eager to Fill Holes in Rental Model

6 Jul, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the video store, here comes another mutation of the business model, brought to you by that salvation of the content industries, DVD.

For this week's issue of the magazine, I did a story about Web sites that let DVD collectors trade their discs like baseball cards. You just sign up, list what you have and what you want, then trade with whomever has the stuff you want and wants what you have. The sites range from free to fee-per-trade models.

It's an extreme example of what Blockbuster's John Antioco once called the DVD “share economy.” He was talking about families and neighbors sharing their stuff, but this Web site extends that network beyond even the DVDjones.com concept of tracking what you have lent to whom from your DVD library.

It seems like every day people come up with new ways to share the programming they love and ditch the stinkers. The collecting phenomenon is a double-edged sword: PVT may be keeping indies afloat, but it is also creating a market for a way around not only rental returns and late fees, but rentals.

I applaud the consumers and entrepreneurs who see the demand and fill the need. But it's an ongoing reminder that this industry is changing from one day to the next, and that other models — some of them both free and legal — are waiting in the wings to fill any holes in rental models.

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