Monday, October 27

do the math!

I was amused/disgusted by the tone of the reporter who wrote DirecTV suing Floridians who watch it for free. He compares DirecTV to the music industry's recent headlines, suing the "poor helpless people" who download music for free. Oh, please. Can't someone Do The Math?

Let's assume that DirecTV (or a music studio -- the argument is the same) spends millions of dollars to go into business. In DirecTV's case, they design and deploy (launch) a satellite, buy enormous amounts of computers to make their service work, hire boatloads of people to staff their customer service phones, bring online a nice website that allows me to do much of this myself, and so on. None of this comes free, and I get billed my share. Then along comes my neighbor who doesn't want to pay; he just wants the service for next-to-nothing (the cost of a descrambler). So, let's use an extreme (to make my point). Let's assume that I am the only person who didn't buy the descrambler; my share of the DBS (direct broadcast satellite) is .. oh, $1 BILLION A YEAR. So guess what? I drop the service (waaay out of my budget). As a result, the provider goes bankrupt, and now even the losers who bought the descrambler have no service.

On the other hand, there is the economic theory of mass production (the more users, the lower the cost for everyone). The same argument applies to the music industry: I am disgusted by those who say they think CD prices are too high. Well, duh. Do the math! The fixed costs associated with producing music must increasingly be spread among a smaller group (buyers) who subsidize those who steal the music. That's why a CD now costs $18, you idiots! Do I buy a lot fewer CDs now than when they were $11? You bet! (BTW, the music industry seems to think that once they sue everyone who downloaded music for free, their situation will turn around. THINK AGAIN!)

And yes, I've heard all those inane arguments about the real reason being bad music, and CDs containing 1 good song and 17 lousy ones. The remedy is (enable rocket surgeon [or brain scientist] mode): DON'T BUY CRAP.

It also amazes me how journalists (aside: I was one, years ago - will blog that later) can turn their own morals on and off. I spotted a story on a Tallahassee FL website, and I was interested in finding the original (in New Jersey). So, a few mouse clicks later I found 1010 WINS: County Thinks Humor Might Slow Down Drivers with a copyright at the bottom. Then I noticed how that copyright (showing who wrote the original) was conveniently missing from dozens of other websites who added it to their own content (some credited the Associated Press, many did not).

Finally, let's hope the Volunteer Center of North Texas cross-checks the Dallas-Fort Worth Crime Stoppers site. Then again, volunteer = free, right? Just like satellite descramblers and music. Harumph.

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