When you are pro-war even the abortion doctors call you "baby-killer."

2004-02-05

What Happened to Society?

This kind of reactionary commentary really pisses me off.

Who are you to demand the world conform to your ideology regarding copyright issues and music (movies, books, video games, computer software)?

You dislike the price of music, I have no argument there. Music CDs prices are insanely high vs. other produced content. A movie ticket cost $5-10 dollars or a DVD costs $8-20 for a production that cost many tens of millions of dollars to make. A music album costs a small faction of the cost of a movie to produce and yet the music CD costs are $15 or more to start with (despite being able to listen to the songs for free over broadcast radio). That is out of whack.

But it does not justify outright theft of the content.

You cannot sneer at the cost of lobster, run into a store that sells lobster, pop the flimsy lock off the lobster tank and jam your hand inside and grab a lobster and run out of the store and not be stealing the lobster. Ethics does not justify your actions because you are not an injured party in this situation. You do not have a right to steal the lobster. It doesn't matter how much you LOVE lobster, someone else produced the lobster and deserves to be compensated at their requested price. That's how our system works.

The music industry is naturally reacting to the theft of its product by changing the product to make it harder to steal, which also makes it harder to use legitimately unfortunately. Copy-protection can block legitimate fair use, but the line between making a legal back up copy of a CD/DVD and making a copy of a CD/DVD to give to someone who didn't buy the content is so razor thin something has to be done.

The solutions may never come forward as long as the pirates demand access to all-free content in all categories and the producers of content refuse to adjust their business model to lower prices significantly. A new video game costs $50 when released to recoup costs. But how many more copies would be sold, and thus more quickly amortize the development costs, if the release price was $30 or $25? There has to be some point where a lower price would generate higher initial sales during the release of pent-up demand for the new game and before it becomes obsoleted by some other release.

Are content producers trying to find this common ground? No. So pirating continues. Releasing a game at $35 for one release would not bankrupt the game producer anymore than releasing a single new CD at $10 would not bankrupt the record label. Watch the numbers, see if sales are higher at the lower prices initially. I would definitely not hesitate to purchase a brand new game for $35 vs. $50. Apple's iTunes music store is selling CDs for $10, with much of that cost going to distribution costs. CDs are incredibly cheap to mass produce today (a new CD is made in literally 2 seconds now). Economies of scale also play in with shipping, printing and handling.

Fixing the problems that separate users from content producers can be fixed, but neither side seems willing to try. Instead alternate forms of distribution are taking over (iTunes music store) and pirating continues (Kazaa). If neither side budges then nothing will get fixed and entire industries will morph into more rigid or more inconvenient forms (I have to burn a CD to listen to my iTunes-purchased music, an extra step not needed with purchased music CDs).

*sigh*