Entitlement

sabato, 2012-03-03; 13:31:18



A few days back, The Oatmeal published this comic about how easy and convenient it is to watch TV shows by pirating them, compared to the hassle of watching them legally.

Andy Ihnatko filed this reaction:

The single least-attractive attribute of many of the people who download content illegally is their smug sense of entitlement.

He concludes:

The world does not OWE you Season 1 of “Game Of Thrones” in the form you want it at the moment you want it at the price you want to pay for it. If it’s not available under 100% your terms, you have the free-and-clear option of not having it.

Ugh.

Marco Arment has a decent response. He says:

Relying solely on yelling about what’s right isn’t a pragmatic approach for the media industry to take. And it’s not working. It’s unrealistic and naïve to expect everyone to do the “right” thing when the alternative is so much easier, faster, cheaper, and better for so many of them.

The pragmatic approach is to address the demand.

This addresses Ihnatko’s conclusion, that you have the “choice” of not watching video that you can’t acquire on desirable terms. But calling out the “smug sense of entitlement” of consumers is annoying and arrogant. Here’s why.

Hulu, iTunes, or any other video streaming service would not exist had it not been for the advent of piracy.

Media companies have been dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. They were dragged kicking and screaming into the analog age. When VHS came around, they tried to sue it out of existence. They tried to subvert the unencumbered CD standard to add copy-protection, even though it broke compatibility with many existing devices. When MP3s started gaining in popularity, they whined about music sharing services, and again lined up their lawyers. When digital downloads started coming of age, they encumbered them with onerous DRM. When iTunes became the #1 music store in the world, they whined and complained that people weren’t buying albums anymore, even though most of the songs on most albums were shitty filler songs that people didn’t want. They got Apple to raise prices on digital downloads, even though it’s far cheaper to distribute digital downloads than physical CDs, and the media companies get most of the profit anyway. They create ridiculously onerous licensing terms for artists, on a country-by-country basis, making it difficult to legally acquire music from other countries. DVDs are often stupidly region-restricted, meaning that the foreign film you want to get from Italy? Nope, that’s right, it won’t play in your DVD player! They blackout local sports games because some company has exclusive rights. They prevent you from watching international video for no good reason at all. They make you sit through stupid FBI warnings and un-skippable previews.

With the exception of the creation of the compact disc (which they later regretted), media companies fight tooth and nail against consumers at every step of the way.

Had it not been for computers that make it easy to transcode digital video, and pirates who are willing to flout the law to get TV shows whenever they want, none of the current legal options would ever exist. Media companies would have been happy to infect all CDs with copy-protection. They would have been happy to force you to continue buying albums instead of singles. They would be ecstatic to continue making you pay again and again for the video you want even though it only takes a small amount of computing power to get the video in the format you want it in. They would play 10 advertisements for every minute of video if they could. They would wish streaming video out of existence.

You know who’s fucking entitled?

Media companies.


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