Piracy And All That
The point of the article is at least partly on the mark.
Piracy has helped many industries. Look at phone companies. Sure "phone freaking" deprives these network providers of their rightful profits according their pricing model. But it also points the way towards flat-rate network access modelling. And the biggest MARKETTING difference between phone and the internet is that the internet is flat-rate at the consumer end.
So basically, the more flat-rate access models you have for information, the more production you can generate in the entire system. The internet is where it because it provides a huge welath of free information. A few digital shopping malls are not it.
But on to the other issue, "is it stealing," "Is it WRONG-WRONG-WRONG?" Sure it is. yes. It's breaking someone's rules and taking someone's stuff. For all you moralists, yes it is wrong.
And I'd like to submit something else for the moralists to consider. Yeh, digital pirates are indeed taking some piece of the digital entrepreneur's god-given property. But opposite movement these days is much stronger. More and more of the "intellectual commons" - the "realm of ideas" is being taken and made into intellectual property. From music to genetic property to patenting smells and further on, the realm of stuff that could be called held in common is shrinking fast. Is this a seperate issue? No siree. You can't wriggle out of this.
Basically, digital realm creates a world where the contrast between freedom and control is much sharper. Anything that gives you control over information can also the power to copy and "pirate" that information. But just as much, digital technology gives the controller more and total control over their domain. This divide indeed tends to result in either total free distribution of information or a total control of information.
- There was a recent article about academic journals stiffening their liscensing feees to the point those reading them would in effect "pay per page turn." Now the moralists would certainly say things like - "sad" "human nature" "inevitable" and that's sort of right. It seems either we'll extreme freedom or extreme control and repression (since they go together). My vote is towards extreme freedom.
Look at the http://freenet.sourceforge.org/
And what does this have to do with piracy helping industries? Well, it's true that if an industries can establish an access point then the flat rate will get them even more profits as the entire industry expands. But there are two or three problems that industries can see here.
- You need to be able to establish this - if you can't extract any money, you'll find yourself in a pickle.
- The industry has to be able to grow, there's no benefit in fixed economy to just having a flat rate for access. And while some people might believe that the internet information explosion will go on forever, most do not (I'm not saying what will happen, only what people believe).
- And once you have a non-growing economy with flat rate access, every provide will want to switch back to a charge-by-page system so that you can extract exactly what each consumer is willing to pay. Sort-of like the bandito - you ask "how much to get accross that bridge? he says "how much have you got?" This "pricing model" is already here for health care. It seems likely to appear for information commodities at some point as well.
- And there you are. The "digital divide" ultimately is not going to be about access but about control. Think about it.