Last night, I read Tim O’Reilly’s superb article on “piracy” and the evolution of online distribution. Brilliant.
Especially apropos was O’Reilly’s comparison of Internet access to television: most of use don’t use “free” TV from the airwaves, but instead get cable or satellite. And many people with subscriptions to TV services pay extra for premium content (such as extra sports channels or HBO). Similarly, most of us don’t use “free” Internet from Juno, but instead pay a monthly fee to an ISP like SBC or AOL.
But the analogy breaks down here. We should be able to get a “premium ISP” package from AOL that gives us online access to all of Time Warner’s music. But it’s not available. Not good enough. If we can’t pay for online access to quality music, we’re going to resort to the next best thing: free file-sharing networks.