Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/23/2010 - 09:51
Netflix has announced an increase in the price of monthly subscriptions, which is no surprise, given the popularity of the firm's video on demand service. With Netflix subscribers using 20% of the nation's bandwidth every evening, Netflix needs some way to pay for all that bandwidth. The company has also added a $7.99/month streaming only subscriptions--you can't get any DVDs.
That might be fine with some folks. Since we started using the streaming service, the number of DVDs we watch has fallen dramatically. Watch next for big changes from the content owners, who have been making a fortune on DVDs for the last fifteen years, but the DVD era is just about over. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth by the TV and movie studios, but in the end, they will make a lot more money by aggressively licensing everything they own for streaming. The truly awful new copyright law is a last ditch attempt by the RIAA and other big copyright advocates to prevent intellectual property theft (e.g. illegal file sharing). But the new law gives the Federal government the ability to shut down ANY Web site arbitrarily simply if an accusation of copyright infringement is made--in other words, without due process. This will inevitably lead to abuse.
I've maintained for many years that the supposed cost of pirated material is overblown by the industry. People that steal music and video recordings, for the most part, would never have actually paid for them in the first place, so the inflated loss of revenue reports are just that--inflated. It's easy to find someone bragging about all the music they have acquired illegally, but they never would have bought it all. And most people are honest; if a product or service is fairly priced, most people prefer to pay for it. The idea of an entire industry starting from the premise that "all are customers, every single one of them, is a crook" has struck me as a bit strange. It's much like the current approach to airport screening: the TSA starts from the assumption that everyone, including the elderly, the infirm, and three year olds, are terrorists. Surely we can do better. And in fact, the huge success of online digital media services like the iTunes store proves that a lot of people are happy to pay fair prices for digital media.
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