Freedom Isn’t Free: An Essay on Digital Content

Freedom isn’t free.

The problem is that most high quality content found on the internet (music, video games, stories, illustrations, etc.) costs significantly more money to create than it is making on-line. There is a huge gap between the cost of production and the price of consumption. Some organizations, such as the New York Times or the makers of the game Spore, complain about this gap and seek to correct it. When they do, they are endlessly mocked on blogs and many consumers refuse to pay up. This results in such organizations either backing down or finding themselves with far fewer customers. In either case, the degradation of content continues, professional people are laid off, and the public gets more and more Beyoncé mashups to feast on.

Fr. Thomas McKenzie offers suggestions for Christians using digital content.

4 thoughts on “Freedom Isn’t Free: An Essay on Digital Content”

  1. That was an interesting article Phil. It needs a bit of time to mull over. I do question his presumption that everything was great in media land before the Internet came along. I would also point out that something as revolutionary as the Web is going to change things radically. How it’ll all play out is anybody’s guess.

    – Big media had everything their way until the Net came along, and I don’t think they did a great job at providing either news, art or entertainment.

    – I look forward to what others have to say on the subject.

  2. Yes, I can’t dissect it yet, but it’s a good point that Internet users often don’t want to pay anything for anything they consume. Maybe an advertiser can front money and make it back, but it won’t be enough to pay for the production. That process can’t continue.

  3. Two Thots.

    (I misspell the word intentionally because they are incomplete musings.)

    1. As a consumer of internet content, I have enough free content available that I see no motivation to pay for subscription only sites. Economics 101 – as long as there are free alternatives, there will be little or no demand for paid content unless it has a perceptible added value.

    2. Since the cost of providing internet content remains, I predict you will find more and more content subsidized by those with an agenda to push. Just as Sit-Coms devolved from the light hearted farces of the 60’s such as the Lucy Show to the political satire of the 70’s typified by All In The Family, so we will see internet content devolve as agenda driven subsidies push providers one way or another.

  4. – A few thoughts;

    – The author of the article just assumes that copyright law is perfectly legitimate as it stands. He tells us it’s a violation of the biblical command not to steal. The trouble with this is that copyright is a recent invention. So is it biblical? and how would we know? I know some Libertarians (e.g. Stephen Kinsella) argue against any copyright, but I although I think that goes much too far, I don’t think the issue is as simple as some people assume. (Witness all the controversy over drug patents.)

    – The author (if I remember right now) seems to ignore the fact big media is radically anti-christian for the most part. (This differs from country to country of course.)

    – Most P2P sites take down files if the owners so request. I would certainly favor such a rule.

    – I think a lot of this ‘problem’ goes back to the fact a radical egualitarianism has been preached by our politicians for a long time now; and people think they have the right to anything anyone else does. (I see this especially in the young generation.) This is often the defense of pirate activity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.