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R[a/n]T, in response to Aerowolf

aerowolf</span> posted an entry in his livejournal that I decided to respond to.  It was originally going to be a short response, but I just kept typing, and eventually exceeded LiveJournal's comment length limit.  Here's the full text of the comment.  Italicized text is from his entry.
NOTE: The comments here do go beyond a response to his original entry. Some of the comments here, including those about people buying music and DVDs, are not directed at him, but rather are directed at the general public as comments related to the topic being discussed.
Is that really worth $8 to $10 a shot [for a movie]? Are we /really/ getting out of it what we expect to get?

Given that you typically know exactly what you're going to get...  If it's not worth the price, don't buy it.  Hollywood doesn't have a loaded gun pointed at us, forcing us to buy what they sell.  If you don't want to see a movie, don't go.  If you don't want to buy a DVD, don't buy it.

They force us to buy a $15 to $20 CD for one or two tracks that we actually like...

They force nothing.  What they are offering you is a $15-$20 CD with a dozen or so tracks on it.  If you don't want that, don't buy it.  Copyright holders are NOT required to sell or license their works.  If they want to sell or license works as a block, and you don't like it, don't buy it.  If enough people don't buy it, they will be forced to come up with a new business model.  That doesn't mean that in the meantime you should circumvent their business model and "steal" their copyrighted works.

The MPAA also has an outdated, outmoded distribution system.

In truth, their distribution system is not outdated.  It just isn't what you want.  You can't go into a bookstore and buy just chapter 13 of your favorite book.  You can't buy selected entries from the encyclopedia.  You can't buy chapter 'Q' of the dictionary.  And nobody complains about that.  You can't buy a replacement Ace of Spades for your poker deck.  You can't buy just the inside of a banana, no peel.  You can't buy just the bedroom and kitchen of a house.  You can't buy six square inches of carpet.  Want to get PVC pipe from Home Depot?  You can't buy less than ten feet.  Bought any video games lately?  Try buying just the single-player version of Halo 2.  All sorts of industries sell goods, services, and ideas in bulk.  Ten years ago I paid $15 for a music CD.  Today, I can pay the same $15.  Prices in most other sectors have gone up, but somehow the music industry is ripping us off. 

Capitalism works.  Supply and demand works.  If people are not willing to pay $15 for a CD, then people won't buy the CD, and the music industry will have to lower the price.  They determined, through quite a bit of research, that $15, or $10, or $12, or whatever, is the price the market will bear.  If the market will not bear that price, they will have to change the price.  Right now, the market will bear that price.  At that price, and with current technology, there is a great deal of theft.  Theft breaks capitalism.  Theft breaks supply and demand.  Theft is why the music industry can say they lost billions of dollars last year.  Without theft, the music industry does not "lose" money, they just don't get that money.  Without theft, demand for the goods at the current price goes down.  In order to make the billions of dollars, then, they would have to lower the price to a point at which demand increases. 

With theft, they can point at all the demand and say "See?  People are stealing from us, make laws to protect us!"  Without theft, such laws would not be "necessary" in the eyes of those backing the laws.  Until someone stole a car, grand theft auto was not a special type of theft.  Until someone used a weapon to steal something, armed robbery was not a special type of crime.  Until someone hijacked an airplane using a boxcutter, you were allowed to take small knives on the plane.  Until someone came up with a method of making an exact duplicate of digital media, the DMCA was not even imagined.

Don't like the price of a movie ticket?  Wait for video.  Don't like the price of a DVD?  Rent.  Don't like the price of a rental?  Invite a few friends over.  Don't like the movie?  Don't watch it.

By consuming the industry's offerings, whether by purchasing them legally or by stealing them, you are supporting the industry.

Want to take the movie/music industry down?  Stop supporting it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
I don't think anyone is interested in taking the movie industry down. I just don't think many people are thrilled about paying 9 dollars for an evening showing of, oh, let's say "Van Helsing". And once they see the movie, walk out disappointed and rather irritated.

Personally, I mailed my ticket stub back to them and asked for a refund. Never got my money, but hey.

The real issue with the music industry is a bit more complicated than either of you are making it. The music industry has posted 31 million dollar losses since the mid 90's, which they have attributed to internet trading. While a good portion of that is probably related, they aren't taking into account a lagging economy either.

I also note that the one of the major issues people have with the music industry is that 4 companies control 95% of music. EMI, Sony-BMG, Warner, and Universal. Many artists truely struggle against this. The music industry has become a place where the image is much more important that the music. (At least for the big sellers). Whether or not this has always been the case is up for debate. These same four music companies though, had to pay large settlements in 2003 for price gouging.

Capitalism works. Well who's going to debate that? The communists! But any college kid with two econ classes can tell you that a free market economy leads to the spread of ideas, and the more mediums available (read as the NRI of a country) the more widespread that exchange is going to be. Since music and movies can both be treated as information, and exchanged easily, it is a natural progression. That's how well capatilism works.

I'm not fond of your inflection that supporting an industry is a bad thing. I don't specifically care for how my clothes are made, but it's not going to make one bit of a difference. Think global, act local really falls apart in the face of NGO's.

The idea of an antiquated business model really comes from the recording industry's inability to make the transition to the digital format quicker. I love iTunes myself. Apple posted a 400 million dollar gain in between iPod's and iTunes, proving that you can have a sustainable online business model.

It's quite a read, but after all of that, just think, I wasted more time writing this garbage than you did reading it.

In the end, it's just music.
Jan. 6th, 2005 03:54 am (UTC)
I just don't think many people are thrilled about paying 9 dollars for an evening showing of, oh, let's say "Van Helsing". And once they see the movie, walk out disappointed and rather irritated.

Funny, we loved it. :-)

I'm not fond of your inflection that supporting an industry is a bad thing.

Supporting an industry is not a bad thing. Supporting an industry that you oppose is a bad thing.

Jan. 7th, 2005 12:10 am (UTC)
It's like hating the sin but not the sinner.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Galen Wolffit

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