What media companies don't want us to realize
The viewpoint on piracy pushed forward by content providers (e.g., movie production firms) implies something that they don't want us to realize. Precisely, the fact that "illegal download = theft" implies that we are all entitled to a free replacement for every work (book, music, movie, ...) that we legally download, don't like, and don't want to keep.
Please bear with me, and I will explain why.
According to content providers, every time you play content (e.g., a movie) without having paid the provider for it, you are stealing.
For instance, if you download a record shared by someone and play it on your stereo, you are stealing from the record company. On the contrary, if you get the same content from the content provider (the record company), paying for it the asked price, the exchange is considered fair.
Content providers hasten to point out that the price you pay is not (neither should be) connected to the actual packaging and delivery cost that they must sustain to provide you with the content: in fact, for downloads such costs are negligible.
The viewpoint of content providers can be summarized by this statement:
the obligation for the user to pay the provider for media content is attached to the act of playing the content, not to the actual cost for the provider of providing the user with it. Therefore, if you play and haven't paid, you are stealing from the content provider.
Now, to the interesting consequence of that.
What if I don't play content that I paid for? For instance, if I download a record and discover that I don't like the music, I will not play such record ever again.
According to the content providers, value is associated to playing: only in this way, in fact, they can justify the statement that if you play and don't pay, you are stealing. By the very same reasoning, if you pay and don't play, you have paid for nothing... and the content provider owes you!
How can they give you back your payment? Using money would be difficult, but there's a perfectly feasible alternative. You can get your money back in the form of something that for you has the same value of your useless purchase, and entails negligible additional costs for the provider: i.e., download of alternative content of your choice. The second download will, at the same time, erase the files of the unsatisfactory first download.
So I make the following proposal:
Let's go on making "piracy" a crime akin to theft of physical goods (which is what content providers want). But, at the same time, let's pass laws that entitle the purchaser of unsatisfactory content to exchange the unsatisfactory download for other content of her/his choice, for free. The only condition will be that the substitution should take place within 24 hours from the purchase.
This should settle the issue. Every piece of content that is actually played by users will have been paid for. Which is what media companies claim they want, right? They would never try to charge people for content that never gets played ;-)
As a side effect, my proposal should also force the content providers to strive for higher artistic quality, which is -in my view- not a bad thing at all.
What do you all think of this?
(Note. Of course, ensuring that the dissatisfied user is not able to retain a copy of her/his original download poses a technical problem. However, such problem is not different from the development of a DRM scheme. Nothing new, then.)
Last edited by BoldlyDubious; 04-06-2012 at 08:55 AM.
Reason: highlighting a point