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21 August 2013

Buying Films

The other day I tried to by a film with iTunes. I tried buy movies for money every few months to see if it's possible yet. I know other people do it, but it's nevert worked for me. Usually some about having the wrong operating system or the wrong media player or the wrong codec. This time I spent $6.99 for some GI Joe film. I tried to download it on my poor old 3G dongle and probably spent another $10 on download quota. I was using an Apple TV which I friend gave us, so I thought we could watch it on the TV proper instead of mushed onto my bedroom.

After 3 hours it was downloaded and I got ready to watch it. It spent a long time trying to play. Eventually it said "You need a TV which is HDCP compatible" or some other nonsense. The TV is almost 3 years old, so fair enough I should have to buy a new one if I am keen to pay for films instead of pirating them. However, I didn't have time to pop down to the TV shop and buy a new TV so instead I just watched some pirated movie, which had been downloaded on a proper internet connection some time previously.

Every time I try to pay for popular culture I end up coming to the same conclusion. It's sufficiently difficult for edge cases that I wouldn't bother. And for some reason, I'm usually and edge case. Either Linux issues, Mac issues, slow computer issues, slow internet issues or issues with medieval TVs from 2010. I have many experiences now of paying for films and music, but never actually getting to watch or listen to it. Or listening to it for a while, but then being told I can't anymore because I got a new computer.

This is definitely not to imply we entitled to consume popular culture for free until it becomes easy to pay for it. I don't think we are entitled to anything. However, consuming popular culture for free is incredible easy, reliable, consistent, fast, flexible and cheap. The sanctioned alternatives are none of those things. And I don't actually have any ethical issues with illegal bit copying. I prefer paying for things, because I quite like about trade. I'm happy to give talented rich people more money if they find it affirming to receive more money. But in the scheme of things, it doesn't seem enormously important.

If paying for things was only slightly more difficult than getting those things for free, I think I would try paying for them. And one day soon it will probably happen.


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