Downloads, piracy and freedom

Those of you who download content the copyright holders don't want you to do not care about freedom and you are acting against your own best interests.

Copyright means the owner of a work can choose under what conditions copies are made. Just as with any creative work you make, copyright owners can choose when and if they allow copies, what price, and who to - eg you can decide your work can only be copied by bacon eaters for 3 cents. This is a fundamental and important freedom. Just because HBO does not want to sell you a copy of Game of Thrones at a price and conveniece that suits you does not mean you can trample over their freedoms to make those decisions.

And when you do go ahead and download anyway, you are hurting your own interests. This is because you do not pick an alternative such as reading a book, watching something else, or joining a juggling group. It is very likely that those alternatives are not as good as what you wanted. But go and do them anway. They will improve and the original copyright owner not meeting your needs will learn their lesson. To understand the mechanism how this works, read the book "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen. The alternatives always start out crappier than what they replace, but they then more rapidly adjust to meet the consumer's needs. Another example is how anybody pirating Windows is not hurting Microsft, but rather hurting the alternatives and how they adjust to that person's needs.

So seriously, do complain to let the companies know that their businesses do not meet your needs, but do not take away their freedoms by downloading, and do patronise the alternatives so they more rapidly meet your needs.

One thing you should concern yourself with is government enforced monopolies. This is when by law and with the backing of the state alternatives cannot be provided. This happens when towns sign 10 year franchise agreements with a cable company preventing any competition. It happens when patents are granted on things that do not deserve 20 years of suppressing alternatives because they are't actually innovations made public 20 years earlier than otherwise would have happened. And it happens when companies pay congress to enact laws suppressing competition in other ways. Behind all these is your vote.


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