Archive for August 31st, 2006

Regarding piracy

Most people in the world today have their own small share of media piracy. Some just snatched a song very occassionally, while others are keep downloading, and downloading and downloading constantly…

RIAA and MPAA is trying to protect their client’s interests by educating the public about copyright law, and (especially RIAA) by throwing some lawsuits. Many people online are trying to justify their piracy habits by saying that RIAA/MPAA and their clients already have lots of money and a bit of piracy won’t hurt them. Even if this might be true, it is besides the point. Stealing is stealing and the copyright law has a reason to exist, as it exists in most countries.

My only problem with the whole thing is that how society clashes with finances. What I mean by that is this: I know many people here in the Bay Area who never pirate. But they have a tripple-figure salary per year. People in Greece make $15,000-20,000, but they still have the exact same need to listen to music. They are modern people and society has created a way of life where people listen to popular music, watch TV, buy DVDs. For most of these people, piracy is probably their only way out of this artificially-created “need”.

This is where RIAA needs to slow down a bit: from one side they advertise everywhere about new records and they have created a way of life where stars/actors/movies/songs are part of our everyday life, and on the other side they prosecute people who developed this need based on their advertisements but don’t pay up.

Make no mistake: RIAA is in the clear here. They have every right to prosecute people who steal their property, it’s just that things aren’t as black and white as the law would like them to be. This is very much like advertising how cool recreational drugs are, but prosecute poor people if they steal some of these drugs because they don’t have the money to buy them from the dealer. Entertainment is like a drug anyway, my analogy is not far off at all (stimulates the brain and you can get hooked to specific music).

I think my friend Vince has the right idea about things: he owns no television set, and he listens to free music (licensed under a Creative Commons license). Regarding popular copyrighted music, he just listens to FM radio (he never buys music CDs). He occassionally goes to the cinema, but it’s not the norm.

People might eventually need to “rewire” themselves regarding entertainment and find fun on freely available material instead of risking a lawsuit. “Having fun” is just a point of view anyway.

Consumerism: the illness of our times

You know, it really bothers me when I read ramblings of people who bought a certain gadget and then they write how terrible that gadget is and that they are going back to their previous gadget and are selling their current one. No, I don’t mean that consumers should not write reviews of their purchases (on the contrary), but when the consumer is getting pissed off about missing features that he knew they didn’t exist when he bought the gadget, why bother writing a rant? It was his fault in the first place. He shed real money for a product and he should have done his research before buying it.

Bernie wrote a rant on his blog about his Nokia E61 experience. The Nokia E61 is actually a nice phone (and it DOES have a good battery life, contrary to what Bernie says), but it does have other problems as I have written in my review. But the thing is, Bernie was not ranting about the real problems of the device (e.g. VoIP not working as advertised), but about why he couldn’t find this and that application that he was used to when he was having a PalmOS device.

I replied to his blog, but he never authorized my reply. Basically, all but two of his points are third party application-related. It’s all about software he can’t get in the S60 3rd Edition platform compared to PalmOS’. Well duh! The S60 3rd Edition platform exists for only 5 months officially (last April was the first phone released based on that platform), while the PalmOS platform exists for over 7 years. There are 30,000 PalmOS apps and about 50 S60 3rd Edition native apps available. Yes, this is a real problem, but if this person actually did some research before buying this expensive gadget, he would know all about S60’s limited application library. This is not a case of a reviewer getting a review unit to write an article and mentioning this problem, but this is a case of a consumer shedding real money for a gadget without doing proper research. It was a waste of his money, and instead of being pissed off at himself, he is pissed at Nokia!

The only point where he is right to shout about, is about the ports/jack connectors. Nokia does not use industry standard headphone jacks and mini-usb for charging and that sucks. But we can’t do much about it (eventually they will listen, just like Apple did with their proprietary connectors and slots over the years).

If you want to read a FAIR rant on a Nokia product, read Vince’s article on his newly purchased Nokia N73. He did find problems, but these are problems exposed AFTER you actually have the phone in your hands and you try to make it work, and NOT about non-existant features that you knew beforehand that they weren’t there.

Personally, I don’t buy most gadgets. I have a closet full of them, but I don’t buy them (except if they are over a certain price point in which case I usually pay the difference). I am given most of them for free so I can write reviews about them. But when I actually decide to buy a gadget with my own money, it’s gotta be pretty perfect. The last gadgets I actually bought was the iPod Mini, 1.5+ years ago and the Canon A700 last May. And heck, I even got major discounts for both of them (about $50 on each)! When it’s about paying the full price, I research deeply before I buy something.

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