Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Piracy is Progressive Taxation"

Today's Library Link of the Day was a December 2002 article entitled "Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution" by Tim O'Reilly. The arguments made in this article, in particular that obscurity and shoplifting are bigger threats to publishers than piracy is, are very interesting.

Another argument, or "lesson" as O'Reilly calls them, that I liked was his "Lesson 6: "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service". He states that free services such as local TV and limited dialup Internet are being replaced by fee-based, higher-quality services such as cable TV and dialup/dsl/cable internet. He foresees music file sharing heading in that direction as well, which we are already seeing with services like iTunes. The quality of music found on free file sharing sites is questionable so people may be more willing to pay if they have the assurance of higher-quality files. He also mentions that he thinks that an "'all-you-can-eat' subscription package" would be much more popular than a pay-per-song type deal (an opinion with which I completely agree).

How does iTunes work anyway? My impression is that it is pay-per-song, but since I only use iTunes for streaming audio, I don't really know. I suppose I could look it up - I am a librarian...

Anyway, definitely interesting stuff.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kat,

I use iTunes and have spent some change over the past couple of years buying songs there. iTunes charges 99 cents a song or usually $9.90 for a complete album. Once you buy it, it's yours forever (in theory*).

The "all you can eat" concept is over at the new Napster (plus others). Basically, you pay a monthly fee to have access to their music library. You can download songs to an MP3 player (but not iPod). If you want to "own" the song and burn it on a CD, you have to usually pay an additional 79 cents.

I prefer the iTunes model. I don't have a problem paying money for a song/album that is (in theory) mine forever. I do have a problem paying $15 a month to listen to Napster, because I am just renting the music and like in the library world, when we stop paying for the service we lose access.

*I say in theory, because I can only hope that Apple will continue to provide support for iTunes, the file format they use, and support for new platforms that come out.


Stacy said...

I saw the word "free" and thought immediately of our students use of free printing... not sure that applies (unless we start offering really low-quality print outs... or, maybe, just don't change the toner... then maybe they'll go to Kinkos instead).

And I prefer the iTunes philosophy, too (i.e., buying the song; even Walmart.com provides this service, so it's not just limited to Apple). But, unlike a movie (which I prefer to rent b/c I will never watch it again), I could listen to that same song over and over and over.

Def Leppard, anyone? :o) "Hit me like a bomb..."