When Did Free Become the New Black?

October 1, 2009 § 1 Comment

So this is my first “Rant” (well, not technically my first rant, but my first online rant) .  It has been on my mind for quite some time, roaming around in my head, coming out in an impassioned conversation every now and then (like two nights ago with some friends), and then yesterday – with the discovery of a video clip posted on The Daily Beast, in which Katie Couric asks Barry Diller and Tina Brown about the likelihood of consumers paying for online content (in this case news)  and I knew it’s time had come.

When did we come to believe that we are entitled to things for free?  By “things” I mean: online music, news, and books.  Creative content available on the Internet.  It started with music.  Then moved to news.  And is trying to take over books.

To set the record straight – I pay for songs, read The New York Times and several other online papers for free, and I buy my  books (and no, I am not an “early adopter”, so my books are in print … I am sure whenever I do buy my  first Kindle or Sony Reader, I’ll wonder why I didn’t do it years earlier).

To also make things clear, I love a sale, will save a buck when I can, and prefer not to pay list price if I can help it.  But I pay.  And when I do get that Kindle, I will purchase the books to download, and when The New York Times online begins to charge a monthly subscription fee, I’ll pay that as well.

Why?  Because people need to be paid  for the work they do.  Someone needs to fund the guy or gal brave enough to sneak in Darfur to get the real story or crazy enough to be stationed with troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.  I love music and am in awe of talented musicians and singers.  They deserve to make a living.  And I want to continue to listen to new artists who come on the scene.  If it was me, I’d want to get paid for my songs.  And writers, well that one hits a bit close to home.  I have a novel in progress and I really hope to sell it one day and,yes, make some money.  But even if I didn’t “put the pen to the page” (or fingers to my keyboard), I am a voracious reader and a sucker for a well-written story.  Writers, too, deserve to make a living.  The same reasoning applies to movie studios that go biserk over pirated DVDs in China.  They need to make money in order to make movies.

If, as a society, we want to have an appreciation for the arts and to continue to encourage artists of all sorts to hone their craft and provide us with entertainment, or in the case of online newspapers, in-depth, informative reporting, we have to be willing to pay something.

I fear what  it says about us if we don’t.

End of rant.

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