I have a DVR. It allows me to record a program I don’t have time to watch and it can pause a program for up to an hour, if I’m called away from the television. So far, so good. Its convenient as hell, but I, like countless others, quickly discovered the biggest advantage of all: No commercials. During the NFL season, I’d record the game, go about my life, and then later, watch a three hour game in roughly 45 minutes, by simply “fast forwarding” what I recorded. Part of me struggles with this, as I wonder how ethical it is for me to enjoy provided content without allowing those that provided it a chance to earn my business.
I do the same thing with other favorite shows. I realize that if everyone did this, no company could afford to offer programming. So, I’m wondering…what can be done? I like the HULU model. I watch some favorite shows and I can easily stomach the four or five 15 second commercials breaks. It may be the best compromise. It will no doubt change how commercials are done. Product hawking will have to adapt, and I’ve noticed that a few companies are producing fast-paced, edgy commercials designed to fit the 15 second mold.
I’ve long felt that advertizing companies make too much money. I feel that commercials have gone from “buy our product” spots to “buy our brand” and finally, to self-congratulatory mini theatre. But thats not the point of my post. I am wondering if we are going to see less commercials, less original content, and, eventually, a complete re-structuring of television? I know i won’t watch 10-12 thirty second spots for a half-hour’s entertainment. I’m willing to compromise, though.
I’m having fun learning about P2P stuff, and bit torrents, and other means of sharing content. I’m reading all perspectives about it, though, as I haven’t determined what is ethical and what isn’t. I know I won’t support sites that send someone into a theatre to video-tape a first run movie. That seems like blatant theft. But, what is a good rule of thumb regarding music? If I buy an album, is it okay to put it on cassette and then share it with friends? If I upload it to the web, and say, you are welcome to this, is that not my right?
I guess I’m going to just set an arbitrary amount that I’m willing to pay. I’m not paying 18 bucks for an album. I’m not paying 99 cents a song either. I have, in the past, used a overseas source and paid 15 cents a song, 1.99 an album. Okay, thats great, but it doesn’t really help here at home. I’m willing to pay 30 cents a song, and I’m willing to pay a 10 cent tax to do so. I could be moved to 40 or even 50 cents if someone makes the case.
Starving artist arguments aren’t going to move me one bit. Is it accurate to say that 99% of musicians toil away in anonymity and relative poverty even without piracy? The fraction of those that “make it” aren’t always the best or most original. Should someone that wrote a single hit in their lifetime expect to get rich and stay rich? The business model is changing, of course, and with it, expectations will have to be whittled down for all concerned, from the label, to the distributor, (they are probably dinosaurs anyway) to the artist themselves.
Like it or not, the internet is going to impact the entertainment industry for the foreseeable future. Some of us are willing to pay, but we may very well exercise other options once we feel abused.
I have no idea what is fair, or ethical. I’m willing to listen to arguments.