Chris Anderson points out that the main thing currently holding back the long tail, are legal restrictions in the form of clearing copyrights. This is somewhat analogous to how the legal restrictions to starting up a small business, end up protecting the larger incumbent companies, a la Hernando de Soto’s The Other Path.
Figuring out how to quickly and cheaply process small intellectual property rights claims is the key. The assumption that this could and would be done was an underpinning of Bill Gates’ prediction of the key importance of content in his The Road Ahead.
If Gates’ vision could be realized, it would provide the consumer much greater variety (and much closer matches between what is sought and what is found); and it would provide many more producers of content, the opportunity to support themselves through their productive activities. (As opposed to the current situation where most such producers must produce as a part-time, labor-of-love, while they support themselves by their unrelated ‘day job.’)
Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail. New York: Hyperion, 2006.
Gates, Bill. The Road Ahead. New York: Viking Penguin, 1995.
Soto, Hernando de. The Other Path. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.