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Richard Sewell on Thu, 10 Oct 2002 16:42:25 +0200 (CEST)

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At 02:14 10/10/02 +0100, richard barbrook wrote:
>Although old media is bought over the Net, it has proved almost impossible
>to persuade people to pay for downloading their digital equivalents. With
>the exception of the real-time services provided by pornography and
>financial websites, it is now almost universally assumed that information
>should be available for free on the Net.

I've never really understood this singleminded focus on free-ness. The Net
has both free and paid-for content. Some content is made & given away by
its authors, some content will only be made if there is someone to pay for
it. Both of these are good things.

So, for a example of a 'good market', look at the software market for
PDAs.  There are thousands of different apps, all making money for their
authors, all selling almost exclusively over the Net. Without the Net,
this market wouldn't work. Without copyright, the authors wouldn't write
the stuff, because they wouldn't get paid.

I suspect the online-copyright debate has gone so wonky because it has
only had a few odd examples to think about:

You can't sell books very well online because a PC is an uncomfortable way
to read.

You can't sell movies, for now, for lack of bandwidth.

Nobody has tried very hard to sell music online, to my knowledge, and it
would be hard to get started now that p2p sharing is so well established.  
The labels are so clearly Bad Guys, the creators aren't benefiting from
the copyright, and so on. This stuff looks like it needs to change, and
maybe it will change for the better under the pressure from p2p. What it
tells us is as much about the status quo in the music industry as it is
about the Net.

What it looks like to me is a mix of free and paid-for content, both
serving real needs. The kerfuffle over music is an adjustment of one bit
of the space to the new conditions, not the revealing of a new economic

Richard Sewell
richard {AT} jarkman.co.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1495 762385       Mobile: +44 (0)7973 775743

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