Linked by Kroc on Thu 30th Aug 2007 13:03 UTC
Editorial I hear often that when something new appears that "competition is good". The primary reasons competition is seen as good, are: it drives down prices; it gives consumers more choice; it pushes technology forward, quicker. Competition is not good because: competition is why consumers have to choose between HD-DVD and BluRay; competition is why DRM exists; and more. In this article, each of the supposed benefits of competition will be looked at in more detail.
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RE: DRM and competition?
by butters on Thu 30th Aug 2007 17:47 UTC in reply to "DRM and competition?"
butters
Member since:
2005-07-08

No, a culture that says "I'll help my neighbor if it isn't too inconvenient" created DRM. It goes against human nature to horde something that isn't scarce. Sharing is a survival instinct. When I have food, I'll share it with my neighbor so that he shares his when I'm starving. The big business doesn't want us to help each other. A starving customer will pay any price (on credit, of course).

It's funny you use the word "culture". If the content industry remains on its evolutionary track, soon we won't have any discernable culture left to speak of. We'll just be worker drones that make the minimum payment on our credit cards every month. We'll have all sorts of new and fascinating social disorders. We'll worry about raising our children in a cynical, uncaring world ruled by self-righteous social Darwinists.

It's interesting that American dystopian literature is almost exclusively based around big bad government and its authoritarian social planning. We don't have to worry about that. When social planning comes to America, it will come wrapped in content and carrying ads. It's big bad media and its corporate sponsors that want to control society. Government is just there as a decoy, a dog-and-pony show to distract us from our real problems.

Competition is good. There's nothing like a handful of similarly-sized businesses vigorously competing for our dollars. But underregulated capitalism doesn't result in fair competition. It results in small and new companies having a huge disadvantage in competing with large and established companies. It also results in "competitors" forming industry alliances to fix prices and gain leverage over consumers and governments.

Don't get me wrong, America couldn't have grown to become a superpower without unbridled capitalism. But here we are, with our ridiculous per-capita GDP, and we still have an economic system tuned for explosive growth and consolidation of power. We can't keep it up any longer. We're drowning in debt.

We're not creating wealth anymore. We're just pushing it upward, and it's not trickling back down. The American economy has flatlined, running straight into a wall of finite consumer spending power. If we don't purge the beast in a controlled redistribution program, we're going to erupt, and the pus of a rotting superpower will rain down on the rest of the world.

We're drowning. If big business won't listen and our government is spineless, then we have to save ourselves by saving each other. It's the only way.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[2]: DRM and competition?
by Almafeta on Thu 30th Aug 2007 18:25 in reply to "RE: DRM and competition?"
Almafeta Member since:
2007-02-22

A starving customer will pay any price (on credit, of course).

And here is where the key fallacy lies. You will not starve just because the Big Mean Corporation won't let you have the Bon Jovi: Yet More Remixed Oldies album for free. If they were harming you, then you might have a point, but they are not.

People have no right to other people's things. If I walked into your house and helped myself to your money, I would become a criminal; the piracy of music, video, books, and software is no different.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: DRM and competition?
by butters on Thu 30th Aug 2007 18:45 in reply to "RE[2]: DRM and competition?"
butters Member since:
2005-07-08

Oh, I completely realize that people will live without Bon Jovi. But they have to have it anyway. That's the problem with our consumer culture. We've been suckered into "needing" things we don't really need. We'd rather be in debt than not have all the shiny stuff we see on TV.

No, I wouldn't want you coming into my house and stealing my money. But someone I knew a bit better asked nicely, I might lend them some money. Digital content is weird because we can make copies at little or no cost. If I could turn my $20 bill into as many $20 bills as I like, then I would certainly lend you money. You can hold me to that, OK?

As I've said many times before, digital media is different than anything we've bought and sold before. How it is monetized will be one of defining issues of our time. The ability to make infinite copies is a unique property. It flies in the face of supply and demand. It's a new kind of entity that's neither a good nor a service.

Comparisons to stealing cars or or even stealing network bandwidth are flawed. These are scarce commodities. Digital media is not. So there is a difference.

Reply Parent Score: 5