Thursday, April 1, 2010

Barriers to Digital Product Sales Encourage Piracy

I've mentioned before via Twitter that the world would be a better place if it was as easy to buy digital goods as it is to steal them.

There are options that are close; the Apple iTunes store, Amazon and its Kindle, Netflix, Steam, etc. But each of them pale in comparison to going to a bittorrent site, finding and downloading the same product.

Each 'official' delivery mechanism brings with it barriers to the products they offer. For me the iTunes store brings with it a heritage of 'once bitten, twice shy' bad proprietary mac-friendly software; Kindles haven't been available in Canada; nor is the Netflix service; and Steam is a lot of bloat and marketing to wade through to get to the game I want to play. Each comes with a common barrier of signing up and signing in for service, and entry of credit card information for billing purposes at least once.

There are also barriers in the bittorrent world, like product quality, and product format, but there are software solutions to overcome them. Some sites are public and don't require a sign up or in, and the crowd helps keep the content in check by providing information on quality.

After watching Cory Doctorow's talk to book publishers about his views on the developments in epublishing, I think there is at least another barrier to the legal way of acquiring digital content.

I have no qualms about paying for content, but when doing so in environments designed to fill many pockets I can't help feel I'm paying for more than just the product. As a consumer I don't like paying for things I'm not interested in supporting, such as unnecessary middlemen or the inflated cost of goods due to price discrimination.

I'm certain the conflict between 'information wanting to be free' and 'earning income for the production of goods' will extend far into the digital future. But until businesses start to break down the barriers they create to obtaining the goods they sell, buyers will continue to seek out the path of least resistance.

© Jeremy Buehler and Rogue Tendencies ( 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Finally someone understand why I do the things I do on the internet ...