Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Humble Pie

So I read in @WilW about the Humble Indie Bundle and about people pirating it, so I clicky the linky to find out what's going on, and find myself in the middle of a story that #WillForeverChangeTheInternet, so I'll let you clicky linkys and get caught up.

For those who have already done so and are waiting with me... how about those Habs, eh? Take out both the Caps and Pens in game 7s... epic. Halak is really putting on a Dryden/Royesque performance. Very impressive.

Ah, you're back, cool! Shall we continue?

Anywho, it occurs to me that I'm not sure which side of this argument I'm on. Personally I've been doing both buying and pirating digital stuff for, well, 20 years or so, so... so I'm not sure. It's clear that in some countries credit card access or iBanking can be extremely difficult if not impossible, so I get why they pirate. I know kids whose parents have security issues with their credit cards and the internet (and/or their children), so I get why those kids pirate.

I think it's the entitlement folk who get me. There are kids today who have NEVER paid for a song or a game. EVER. They don't only expect it for free, but they feel entitled to it. They feel something is dreadfully wrong if they can't get their band's latest album for free and immediately so.

I asked one of my classes about it, and got the response - why should we pay for something that's free? I suggested that if they don't then artists will need to find jobs that pay them money, and quit making their games and songs, that is, someone has to pay so that the stuff can be made.

They were... puzzled. I mean, they understood, but they didn't understand why that meant that they had to be the ones to pay. These are mostly middle class suburban white kids from homes with double incomes. People who know a thing or two about these things will tell you that it's this situation at home that creates this concept of entitlement.

Considering how much of the market might well be made of of these people, I feel kinda bad of the people who are going to want to make a living off them. It'll be hard.

Personally, I know why I should pay, I'm just cheap and lazy. I'd rather not be. I'd rather be a paragon of righteousness. But I'm not. I pay when I feel I need to, when it's uber convenient, or when it's a part of my consumer habits, otherwise I'll download it or stream it.

I most often fit into the group "they wouldn't have got my money anyway." I'm not one with a ton of expendable income. Seriously. I'm in debt mostly due to evil credit card companies getting to me when I was young and stupid. I have a mortgage and a ton of regular bills, and kids and... well you get the picture. I got about $20 a month to spend as I want, and even then I feel a bit guilty about it. I used to be so much wealthier when I was a kid getting $20 a week for allowance. Shit. Those were the days.

So yeah. That's where I fit in. But this whole "pay what you want" thing is ridiculously brilliant. I also asked my students if they'd buy songs if they were 50 cents or 5 cents, and they were much more inclined to forgo their entitlement. But I have a feeling it's because songs are 99 cents now - as soon as they're 50 cents, they'd be back entitling themselves to pirating again.

So I don't know how it's going to be, but I think this is a very interesting step - maybe not for the mainstreamers, but for those indie and fringe folk who just want their fair share of the pie. The Humble Pie.

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