02733: About Spending on Things You Don't Own

Digital Rights Management is an interesting development in copyright protection for various media. It's what makes a lot of digital marketplaces possible as it ensures that people cannot "steal" their content unless they figure out how to compromise the DRM protections. And I'll concede that I'm quite invested in solutions like this given my Amazon Kindle books, comiXology digital comics, Audible audiobooks and of course my Steam-managed computer games.

I've reached a point in time where whenever I go to bookstores I weigh whether or not I actually want to own a physical copy of the title versus a digital one. In fact, books that I really like tend to trigger an investment in the hardbound edition but then I may still get a digital copy to actually read since it's hard to lug around physical books.

And it's weird to be at this point given DRM can be scary. My "collection" of digital titles would become useless should Amazon ever go out of business. I'd lose access to a lot of my games if Steam ever needed to close shop. These things rely heavily on trusting these companies to stay alive and to not lose the rights to distribute individual titles or need to recall a title for whatever reason.

But I think this is a direction that can be explored further as we move forward as species because different forms of media including television shows and movies have value in terms of both actual knowledge and of course aspects of culture. And maybe in a Star Trek style future we might be able to free our creatives from the tedium of earning money and focus on just being able to create great things and share them through a central network of sorts. Whether that will somehow rise from the ashes of the likes of Amazon in the far future is anyone's guess.