Wednesday, February 4

More on file 'sharing'

Cory Doctorow has a fascinating post on digital media. He has just released his second book in both print and free on the Web. His first book was successful in this format. Then, there are some very good comments exploring this issue. Thoughts:

- first, his take seems pretty optimistic, but this method has worked for him so far.
- not all file sharers are looters.
- copyright law has not kept pace with technology or how honest people want to interact with the media they own. DRM sucks.
- 'distributing ebooks for free boosts sales'
- 'technologies that enable broader distribution end up paying more artists more money for making more art that is enjoyed by more people'. This is my true, starry-eyed hope for digital distribution. I'm idealistic about it, which is why I bring it up so often. I also want to understand that cons.
- I think Cory is right with his examples of how increased distribution has only improved sales in the affected industries. There are many good reasons why this has not been the case in the stinky music industry. Maybe their sales would have been even worse without Napster!
- calling all 'file sharers', or even most or half, 'by nature free loaders and thieves' is unfair and innaccurate.
- technically, copying files without consent in theft. But it also shows the leading edge of an industry, that there is money to be made in changing what we consent to.
- 'People who don't buy are people who likely wouldn't have bought in the first place.'
- Yes, Barnes and Noble and Borders and libraries encourage the sale of more books, even thought people can read them without buying them.
- if there's a good way to download texts into books someday (eg, digital paper), one of the advantages will be cheaper distribution (a la music today). We'll be able to get the expensive analog production and distribution costs out of the way. The consumer will pay less for 'books', and the author will make as much, or more.
- I find Cory's four numbered examples about the movie industry (towards the bottom) absolutley compelling. 'The role of technologists has traditionally been to drag the entertainment industry kicking and screaming to the money tree.' This is one of those cases of following the market.

This post led me to the Baen Free Library where Eric Flint has a good rationale for what they're doing over there.
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