Space Ramblings

Digital Piracy and Digital Ownership

It may be no real coincidence that the areas in which digital piracy is most rampant are also the areas in which companies hold that buyers don’t own a product, but only license it. That was the case with the music industry which tightly regulated anything and everything customers could do with their music, treating people as music renters, rather than music owners. Music piracy quickly became mainstream. Computer software companies did the same thing, selling a license rather than software, never mind that most customers thought they were buying software. Apple pulled the same stunt with the iPhone. Bricking quickly followed, and jailbreaking, and more bricking, and more jailbreaking. The problem is that companies want violations of their copyright to be treated as theft of private property, but aren’t willing to treat the purchases of their customers as private property owners, but licensees. The average user does not respect a license. We’re an ownership society, and the average person sees things as either theirs or not. The license culture that digital media owners have tried to breed, has instead created the perception that digital media is ownerless. Amazon’s treatment of Kindle books as licensed rather than sold, will serve to create that same digital piracy culture with ebooks as well.

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