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Old 03-28-2010, 03:56 PM   #1
bwana
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can there be a market for used digital content?

When you buy something new and shiny, you pay more for it than if it were used. But the same analogy does not hold for digital content or intellectual property. Can you buy a 'used song' on itunes? a 'used album' a 'used ebook'?

If the concept of used does not apply, the the concept of 'new' cannot be defined. Since neither used nor new exist, then buying any intellectual property does not fit our understanding of the world.

But you say, we pay to go to school. Is that not the purchase of intellectual property? I would say no, it is like skiing or tennis lessons, you are buying a process.

I think this aspect of DRM has been neglected. Although DRM as it exists today is to prevent the use of 'unlicensed' media, its full potential has not been explored.

If I buy a song/book from iTunes that is new, I would pay real money for it, today that price is ~$1/$14. Apple could buy it back from me for 90 apple cents. Apple could revoke the song from my library. Apple cents could only be used to buy 'used' music.

Since apple knows i bought the song from them, then would know I am not selling them back a song that I got from elsewhere. Apple would only buy back songs they had originally sold to me. I could then use my apple cents to buy 'used' music from apple. By making the purchase of music easy, piracy is stunted. This model also recognizes the fact that the distribution of music electronically is far cheaper than traditional methods and therefore price should be decreased accordingly.
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:00 PM   #2
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There could be, but there would need to be some sort of re-certification program to guarantee that all the bits are intact. And if some bits have to be replaced, it should be labeled as "refurbished." There is nothing worse than buying used data and finding that the seller refused to disclose CRC errors!
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bwana View Post
When you buy something new and shiny, you pay more for it than if it were used. But the same analogy does not hold for digital content or intellectual property. Can you buy a 'used song' on itunes? a 'used album' a 'used ebook'?

If the concept of used does not apply, the the concept of 'new' cannot be defined. Since neither used nor new exist, then buying any intellectual property does not fit our understanding of the world.

But you say, we pay to go to school. Is that not the purchase of intellectual property? I would say no, it is like skiing or tennis lessons, you are buying a process.

I think this aspect of DRM has been neglected. Although DRM as it exists today is to prevent the use of 'unlicensed' media, its full potential has not been explored.

If I buy a song/book from iTunes that is new, I would pay real money for it, today that price is ~$1/$14. Apple could buy it back from me for 90 apple cents. Apple could revoke the song from my library. Apple cents could only be used to buy 'used' music.

Since apple knows i bought the song from them, then would know I am not selling them back a song that I got from elsewhere. Apple would only buy back songs they had originally sold to me. I could then use my apple cents to buy 'used' music from apple. By making the purchase of music easy, piracy is stunted. This model also recognizes the fact that the distribution of music electronically is far cheaper than traditional methods and therefore price should be decreased accordingly.
You seem to have the seeds of a very good idea here (which will probably guarantee that the industry doesn't adopt it for at least another five years!), but it does get round one of the biggest issues for me with DRM - my inability to sell or give away a DRMed product.
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:03 PM   #4
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From a publisher's perspective, the idea of only ever having ONE reader for every book sold is very attractive, and something they would not want to give up on.

The easiest solution to what you want would be to sell ebooks on physical media -- memory card, CD, etc. This would also appeal to people who like to put things on shelves, as well as people who want to minimise their reading costs by reselling them.
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:12 PM   #5
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From a publisher's perspective, the idea of only ever having ONE reader for every book sold is very attractive, and something they would not want to give up on.
But that isn't something they have now, what with libraries and used book stores. They're holding on to something that doesn't exist anyway in the real world.
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bwana View Post
When you buy something new and shiny, you pay more for it than if it were used. But the same analogy does not hold for digital content or intellectual property. Can you buy a 'used song' on itunes? a 'used album' a 'used ebook'?

If the concept of used does not apply, the the concept of 'new' cannot be defined. Since neither used nor new exist, then buying any intellectual property does not fit our understanding of the world.

But you say, we pay to go to school. Is that not the purchase of intellectual property? I would say no, it is like skiing or tennis lessons, you are buying a process.

I think this aspect of DRM has been neglected. Although DRM as it exists today is to prevent the use of 'unlicensed' media, its full potential has not been explored.

If I buy a song/book from iTunes that is new, I would pay real money for it, today that price is ~$1/$14. Apple could buy it back from me for 90 apple cents. Apple could revoke the song from my library. Apple cents could only be used to buy 'used' music.

Since apple knows i bought the song from them, then would know I am not selling them back a song that I got from elsewhere. Apple would only buy back songs they had originally sold to me. I could then use my apple cents to buy 'used' music from apple. By making the purchase of music easy, piracy is stunted. This model also recognizes the fact that the distribution of music electronically is far cheaper than traditional methods and therefore price should be decreased accordingly.
Why would Apple et al sell you a digital file you can easily copy and store where ever you like and then buy the original back from you so you can repeat the process ad infinitum?

Personally I think people have to give up on this idea of "I should be able to re-sell my digital file". I simply don't see it ever working when we all know there is no way to ensure someone sells their original and only copy of the file.

Instead, I see the only workable solution being pricing digital media such that people don't care that they can't re-sell it later. Surely it must be a small minority of people who pay $1 for an itunes song and then complain because they can't sell it to someone on ebay for 80 cents when they are done with it.

I think the same will go for books even though I think the final price will generally be somewhat more than $1 per book. I think the market will find a price that is workable(I'd say around $5-9.99) and people will just have to accept that there wont be any major type of second hand market for digital files.

Cheers,
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Old 03-28-2010, 06:59 PM   #7
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Personally I think people have to give up on this idea of "I should be able to re-sell my digital file". I simply don't see it ever working when we all know there is no way to ensure someone sells their original and only copy of the file.
Sure, people should give up all their legal rights because it's not convenient for corporations to manage them. Oh, wait...
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by PKFFW View Post

Personally I think people have to give up on this idea of "I should be able to re-sell my digital file". I simply don't see it ever working when we all know there is no way to ensure someone sells their original and only copy of the file.

Instead, I see the only workable solution being pricing digital media such that people don't care that they can't re-sell it later.

I agree. The model here is more like buying a limited licence to use, rather than an artefact to own. We are used to different levels of licensing, paying per view, or restricted ownership in other areas of life. But when new areas and situations open up then it always takes a bit of time for people to get the hang of it and to adopt fresh ways of doing things.

There are countless forms of entertainment in which you pay for the experience once, and don't get repeats or resale opportunity. For instance, if I've watched a movie in a theatre I don't expect to be able to resell my ticket afterwards. Going to sporting events, concerts, plays, etc are one-offs that all cost as much or more than a book. The cost of an e-book, per entertainment hour, is highly competitive even if you only read once and delete it.

I agree that it would be good to price ebooks at a level where all buyers would feel they got value if they only 'use once and delete'. But I pick my books reasonably carefully and I'm very happy with the value I'm getting right now, so I'm not holding my breath waiting for price falls.

If people prefer a pbook, for whatever reason, then they can buy a pbook. Digital formats can certainly continue to improve, but in the meantime I'm still enjoying them the way they are right now.

Cheers,

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Old 03-28-2010, 09:01 PM   #9
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I agree. The model here is more like buying a limited licence to use, rather than an artefact to own.
That's what ebookstores are trying to promote, but that's not the way the law works for those purchases. If they want the legal right to treat them like sales, rather than licenses, they have to allow resale options. (If they want them treated like licenses, then among other things, they have to label them as "click to purchase license to read," with the terms described somewhere on the site, instead of "click to buy this book"--which would lose them sales.)

Quote:
The cost of an e-book, per entertainment hour, is highly competitive even if you only read once and delete it.
Not compared the cost of a pbook. It doesn't matter how it compares to the cost of concerts or sports events; ebooks are providing the same entertainment-content as physical books, and that's what their price needs to compare to.

Quote:
I agree that it would be good to price ebooks at a level where all buyers would feel they got value if they only 'use once and delete'. But I pick my books reasonably carefully and I'm very happy with the value I'm getting right now, so I'm not holding my breath waiting for price falls.
Me neither. I don't need to read anything with DRM; there's plenty of DRM-free content available, and it looks like that amount will be growing in the future. In a year or two, both my kids will be avid ebook readers who don't purchase DRM'd content.

That doesn't directly deal with the resale options, but non-DRM'd content is easily sharable or resellable; removing the original is the problem of the original owner.
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:51 PM   #10
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That's what ebookstores are trying to promote, but that's not the way the law works for those purchases. If they want the legal right to treat them like sales, rather than licenses, they have to allow resale options. (If they want them treated like licenses, then among other things, they have to label them as "click to purchase license to read," with the terms described somewhere on the site, instead of "click to buy this book"--which would lose them sales.)
I'm all for clarifying the legal position, especially as it can vary from country to country and it can be difficult for an individual to pin down exactly what the law is. I'd certainly agree that it would be preferable for everything to be as clear and transparent as possible. But in the meantime it seems that many buyers have a reasonable general idea of what they're paying for, which is something less substantial than what they would get with a physical book. I'd certainly hope the position will continue to be fine tuned with regard to both the legal fine print, and the degree to which buyers are aware of it, and I agree that it would be all for the better.

Quote:
Not compared the cost of a pbook. It doesn't matter how it compares to the cost of concerts or sports events; ebooks are providing the same entertainment-content as physical books, and that's what their price needs to compare to.
This is simply a matter of you and I having different views. All the ebooks I've bought have cost less than the pbook prices, some moderately less, other substantially less. To me, they are good value. I don't resell my pbooks either, so any potential resale value is irrelevant to me (in practice, it's actually relatively small anyway). Their value to me is in the reading not the selling. I'm not alone there. Books in any format are another 'discretionary purchase' for me - in other words not a essential like food, or a work related necessity, but something that competes with all the other things I might spend my weekly 'entertainment dollar' on. Ditto for music.

Hundreds of thousands of customers like me are already regularly buying ebooks and paying for other digitally delivered material. So the debate is more about market reach than whether ebooks can be sold without doing this, that or the other differently. I expect that the models will improve, and I'm sure that there's still plenty of mileage in the debates, complaints, and varying viewpoints. But I'm certainly not going to hold my breath waiting until everything is done exactly my way. I'm enjoying it right now, and I'm satisfied with the value I'm getting.

(Where's the E-reader icon when you need it? )

Cheers,

Chris
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:59 PM   #11
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Sure, people should give up all their legal rights because it's not convenient for corporations to manage them. Oh, wait...
And where did I say people should give up their legal rights because it's not convenient to corporations?

Oh wait......

I know it might be hard for you but try to read what I actually wrote and don't simply jump to your own conclusions about what I meant.

Cheers,
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:24 PM   #12
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I agree that we can't think of and treat digital content the way we treat physical content. Digital content has more similarities to broadcast content, and the rules for use should be similar.

For instance, with a television program, we are free to watch it (of course), and we are free to record the program to watch later, possibly many times over. But we are not free to sell a videotape of that program that we recorded (in most markets).

However, there can be a used market for that TV program: Buying a prerecorded tape or DVD of the program--essentially the program, tied permanently to physical media--and reselling that physical media as a "used" product.

E-books should be considered in like vein. The digital file, as downloaded from the web, e-mailed, etc, is akin to a broadcast program that you are free to read, but not to re-record and resell. Anyone who would like to resell their content would need to purchase that content on permanent physical media (such as an SD card) and resell that.

The alternative to that would be the purchasing of a "license" that accompanied the digital file, which must be present in order to access the content, and which cannot be duplicated by consumers. When the license was resold, the original owner would be unable to access the file without the license.

Of course, for the license idea to work, there would need to be a method of identifying individuals, files, and the licenses they owned that granted them access. I will refrain from adding more, since it would be hard to be heard over the howls of privacy advocates...
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:37 PM   #13
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There seems to be a feeling developing from the respondents here that digital media is fundamentally different than physical media. We license it, not buy it. As a result we cant really sell it. Rather like an automobile license that expires every so often.

I am intrigued by Elfwreck's statement that there is plenty of DRM free media around. Unfortunately I am a creature of the physical world and the people around me use the tokens of the mass media as reference points- my kids talk about Rihanna, Britney Spears, Linkin Park. The talk about TV shows. They talk about the Red Sox. All of these media are DRM controlled. I try and engage their brains with DRM free topics. The other night my son and I had an extensive discussion about the mechanism and effects of atomic bomb detonations (one of those random things that kids think about) We goggled and talked about the >1000 detonations the US has done in tests, the various yields, the critical blast radius, the lasting side effects, etc. etc. This information is DRM free. However, it's not something that will quickly engage him and his friends.

My point is that DRM free media are often not the mainstream. I would love for you to prove me wrong and show me the some of the many sources of DRM free media that your children enjoy.

One way that DRM free media could go mainstream is by quantity. Simply by virtue of the DRM-free nature, such media could be repackaged into streams. The thing a customer might then buy would be a particular media stream. This is one reason I like Pandora when it comes to music. And yes I am a paying subscriber there. How do they get around the DRM restrictions? The same way that netflix does for their online distribution I imagine.They buy a subscription to a cable channel and just repackage it.

I am amazed that we even invented this clunkything called DRM. It feels like some steampunk invention out of Dune. Can you imagine if the printing press was treated the same way when they were invented? Can you imagine the church confiscating all printing presses or perhaps only allowing monks to operate them? Would the Gutenberg bible even have been printed? By confining the distribution of electronic media according to old models, we are limiting ourselves.
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:08 PM   #14
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I know it might be hard for you but try to read what I actually wrote
Do I need to use Sarcasm tags with you? Oh, right, that's a stupid question there! (Oops, I did it again...)

ChrisC333 - UK and EU law is quite plain. If it's advertised as a sale, sold like a sale, and has a "sale" button? It's a sale. Ebooks as-sold by Amazon and other web stores are a sale.
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:57 PM   #15
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Do I need to use Sarcasm tags with you? Oh, right, that's a stupid question there! (Oops, I did it again...)
No need at all.

However, I do not consider quoting me and then implying that I said something entirely different to what I did in fact say to be sarcasm. I consider it to be more of your usual argumentative rhetoric.

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