Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 1, 2024

If buying isn’t owning, then piracy isn’t stealing

Filed under: Computer Software,My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:27 PM

Nowadays it is quite common for folks to move from having physical copies of books, movies, TV series etc to having digital copies of the same. I like having digital versions of things because they are easier to store but that brings a whole lot of problems. Basically having an electronic item specially something that is hosted on a service or needs an external system to approve your right to open that file/game/book then it means that you don’t really own that item. The service can arbitrarily decide to remove it from their system, alter it without telling you or decide to reduce functionality and make you pay more for something that you already paid for.

We have so many examples of this happening, such as services removing movies that you bought from your systems because they figured it was more cost effective to not renew rights to the movie. Amazon Music has removed music that was paid for from their system or have changed it. Books were removed from Kindle by amazon when they felt it needed to be inspite of the users having purchased it.

Earlier this week in example no 400035 that shows that we don’t really own the digital content we ‘bought’, Sony deleted content that they had promised would be there forever with little to no recourse for the users to get their content back when though they had paid for it.

Funimation, a Sony-owned streaming service for anime, recently announced that subscribers’ digital libraries on the platform will be unavailable after April 2. For years, Funimation had been telling subscribers that they could keep streaming these digital copies of purchased movies and shows, but qualifying it: “forever, but there are some restrictions.”

But soon, people who may have discarded or lost their physical media or lack a way to play DVDs and Blu-rays won’t have a way to access the digital copies that they were entitled to through their physical copy purchase.

A little while ago Philippe Tremblay, director of subscriptions at Ubisoft made a comment that gamers need to get used to the idea they don’t own their games anymore and embrace digital downloads. This is absolutely ridiculous and should not be normalized. If I own something I should be able to do whatever I want with it. Unfortunately that is not the case because the content is protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management) which is supposed to be a tool to prevent piracy but instead is a tax or punishment for doing the right thing and buying content legally.

If I pirate a movie or a book I can do whatever I want with it and watch it wherever I want or convert it to another format that is easier for me to consume (mobi->epub for books as an example) But when I legally buy something the DRM on it stops me from doing the same thing as it is a felony for me to remove the DRM so that I can access stuff I paid for in a way that is convenient for me.

Before streaming services and digital stores became popular, at times the only way to get content was to pirate it. To give an example, back in 2007/2008 books by most of the authors I like were not available in India so if I wanted to read a book I would have to buy it from Amazon and have it shipped to India. Amazon used to charge $10 PER book to ship it to India at that time even if you ordered multiple books and paying that for a book that costed $7 made absolutely no sense. Same was the case with movies and tv series. With streaming and digital media taking off, I can now buy a digital book when it is released or watch a new TV series when it is launched legally. Now with this nonsense of deleting stuff that people have bought, we need to start keeping copies of all the stuff we buy offline so that I still have access to what I paid for even when a corporation decides that it is more cost effective to delete/remove access to it.

Source: Here We Go Again: Sony Disappears Digital Content That Was Pitched To Customers As ‘Forever’

– Suramya

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