Friday, 21 November 2008

Lives will be ruined, I tell you...

When I wrote a post about The Pirate's Dilemma back in March it seems I didn't quite think through the full awful implications of the book's central thesis.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still broadly in agreement that faced with present levels of piracy the content industry's most expedient and potentially profitable response certainly does seem to be competition, rather than trying to sue every pirate out of existence. In fact, as far as I can see, this attitude is increasingly becoming the mainstream - and it's precisely this which has me concerned, the ominously increasing availability of entirely legal free content [shudders].

Already there's free content all over the internet, of course, and there has been for ages. Some of it (broadly) legal - YouTube, Project Gutenberg, MySpace, for instance - and some of it not so much - TV Links, The Pirate Bay, the original Napster. But these all came with drawbacks - risk, clunkiness, restrictions, age of content, complete illegality, long download times, ratio of fame-hungry teenagers lip-synching to pop music in their bedrooms to actual entertainment. If there was something you wanted to see/read/listen to you had to make an effort to do so, you had to weigh up whether the risks/inconvenience were worth the bother, filter the quality from the dreck.

My point?

With so many services now either already available, or on the not-so-distant horizon, all designed to make catching and finding the content you want to see or hear not only legal but also free and easy - the iPlayer, 4oD, ITV on demand, actual proper movies hitting YouTube in the near future, Project Kangaroo, Hulu, the list goes on - what, I ask, and this is the crux of my objections, are we of weak wills supposed to do, eh? Has anyone thought about that? No.

The dark, inescapable void of procrastination this is all about to open up in so many lives (or, OK, possibly just mine) doesn't even bear thinking about... 

There used to be so many disincentives, sigh. So many... [shakes head nostalgically]

(Yes, I know, I'll just have to be more self-disciplined, probably. But still, it's bloody annoying - when I got rid of my telly I really didn't expect it to spend the next few years slowly and relentlessly stalking me, like the zombie it so often used to turn me into, all the way to the bloody internet. Harrumph).

Europeana, the European digital library, museum, and archive was launched yesterday... and is now offline until mid-December, having received far too much interest to cope with (10 million hits per hour).

How great is that?

Not only that I get a reprieve from losing myself in yet another free site for at least another few weeks, but that quite so many people were interested in a project like that. Brilliant :)

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