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Old 04-06-2012, 07:51 AM   #1
BoldlyDubious
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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 07:55 AM. Reason: highlighting a point
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:26 AM   #2
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Pay-per-consumption is simply a false idea put forth by greedy corrupt individuals.
Instead of refund for junk how about try before you buy. If you like the product purchase it. If you don't like it, delete it...
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:54 AM   #3
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I was not aiming at establishing the best possible scenario. My proposal has the aim of highlighting how, according to the very viewpoint that the media companies are trying to force upon us, they are ripping us off.
They establish a premise (if you play content without paying, you're stealing), expect from us that we comply to the consequences of such premise (you have to pay us if you want to play content) but refuse to comply with their own part of the consequences (if you pay and don't play the content you purchased, you have the right to a refund, or a substitution).
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:58 AM   #4
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Everyone who expects to get paid, except me, of course, is a greedy bastard.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:01 AM   #5
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Everyone who expects to get paid for bad work, without giving me the possibility to assess the quality of such work before paying OR to get a refund/substitution if I find out that it is bad, is a greedy bastard.

By the way, in my proposal I have a place for art that is intended for one-off consumption (say, blockbuster movies). For these, in fact, 24 hours could be all the life of the piece of content, for what concerns the purchaser.
In these cases, the content provider should be allowed to put a "WARNING: substitution for this item is not possible!" message beside the "Add to cart" button. If you go on and push the button, you know that you're stuck with what you are buying.
But the law should also put a limit on the number of items for which substitution is not allowed (say, not more than 20% of the items proposed on each page of the web shop, and 10% of the entire media catalogue of the company).
Then the media companies should be very careful in using such warnings, if they want to convince their customers that their actual meaning is not "WARNING: we are going to rip you off with this one!" :-)

Last edited by BoldlyDubious; 04-06-2012 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
According to content providers, every time you play content (e.g., a movie) without having paid the provider for it, you are stealing.
When I buy an MP3 from iTunes or a book from the Kobo store, I didn't realize I was paying every time I read it; I should probably start paying more attention to my Visa bills. Content providers aren't (currently) demanding payment every you play content, just every time you want to shift formats.

I pretty much stopped reading and started skimming at this point in the post:

Quote:
... if you pay and don't play, you have paid for nothing... and the content provider owes you!
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:43 AM   #7
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It is perfectly acceptable that content creators get paid if someone wants a copy of their work to own/keep/posses. It is not acceptable to try to ring money out of someone because their eyeballs viewed something or their ears heard something.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
Content providers aren't (currently) demanding payment every you play content, just every time you want to shift formats.
You are right. This is not what I was saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
I pretty much stopped reading and started skimming at this point in the post:
Ahem... this explains why you misunderstood my point (sorry but you called for it :-) ).

Last edited by BoldlyDubious; 04-06-2012 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldlyDubious View Post
Everyone who expects to get paid for bad work, without giving me the possibility to assess the quality of such work before paying OR to get a refund/substitution if I find out that it is bad, is a greedy bastard.
There's always risk you won't like something you buy, that's just part of the determination of whether the price is worth it. Companies can and sometimes do offer demos of their products (first chapter of a book, game demo, etc.), but I don't think they should be obligated to; if you're not sure you'll like something and there's no demo, don't buy it at the price it's offered.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:50 AM   #10
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You are right. This is not what I was saying.
In that case, I have no idea what you're saying. Your whole argument seems to rest on this pay-per-play strawman.
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
if you're not sure you'll like something and there's no demo, don't buy it at the price it's offered.
Of course. However, the key point is that no other industry accuses people of stealing money from them just because they didn't purchase their products (even if that happens thanks to illegally-downloaded "previews").
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:57 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ninjalawyer View Post
There's always risk you won't like something you buy, that's just part of the determination of whether the price is worth it. Companies can and sometimes do offer demos of their products (first chapter of a book, game demo, etc.), but I don't think they should be obligated to; if you're not sure you'll like something and there's no demo, don't buy it at the price it's offered.
That is exactly the point: It is NOT up to the content creators to decide whether or not they get to take money out of your wallet/purse, it is up to the owner of the wallet/purse. They offer the content, the consumer decides whether or not to keep a copy for their personal use.
This idea of forcing someone to pay is simply not acceptable. That is the theft part...
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:18 AM   #13
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That is exactly the point: It is NOT up to the content creators to decide whether or not they get to take money out of your wallet/purse, it is up to the owner of the wallet/purse. They offer the content, the consumer decides whether or not to keep a copy for their personal use.
This idea of forcing someone to pay is simply not acceptable. That is the theft part...
Isn't that what he was saying? If you are not sure, don't take that money out of your wallet. Just walk away, forget about the book (or movie, game, whatever) and get something else. It is that easy.
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:46 AM   #14
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Isn't that what he was saying? If you are not sure, don't take that money out of your wallet. Just walk away, forget about the book (or movie, game, whatever) and get something else. It is that easy.
No. I may or may not take the money out of my wallet, it is my choice. The content is for sale, I am a potential purchaser, I may want it or I may not. How I go about deciding whether something is worthy of purchase or not is up to me. It is my wallet.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:26 AM   #15
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The problem that I was trying to tackle is this one:

1. media companies realize that people are able to get their content without having to buy it from them (e.g., by illegal download);

2. to protect their revenues, companies are trying to pass the new concept that you don't pay to OWN THE MEDIA; you pay to PLAY THE CONTENT. They need this new concept, because they are not selling physical media anymore, and (with DRM) you don't even own the files you downloaded because you can't do what you want with them.
This new concept allows media companies to claim that if you play their content and didn't pay for them, you're a thief and should be treated as such.

3. media companies refuse to acknowledge the other consequence of their new concept. Today, the playing of content is the ONLY thing that you actually purchase when you pay for a download. You haven't paid for the possession of something physical; and you haven't paid for the possession of your files, because you are not allowed to give to someone else, or resell them.
So the consequence I am talking of is: if you never, nor will ever, play the content that you have paid for, you have literally paid for *nothing*. So the media company that you paid should give you the possibility of a refund/substitution: otherwise, according to their own terms, when the company says that it actually sold you something, it's lying.
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