Sunday, June 8, 2014

Purchasing Second-Hand is a Moral Grey Area

Posted in response to Xbox One: Do we have a moral right to sell used games?

I agree that purchasing used media (books, DVDs, CDs, Video Games, etc.) bypasses paying the people who helped produce the content.

Despite all the hype, there aren't any "evil corporations" making millions on the backs of innocent consumers. Making media is a cooperative effort usually involving hundreds if not thousands of hard working individuals. I believe that the people who worked to make the content possible should be compensated for their efforts.

When purchasing media content, the physical hardware is not being purchased. Using books as an example, users don't care about the ink, paper, or binding materials as these only make up one-tenth the cost of the book; what they care about is the content. The right to consume (view, read, etc.) the content is what is being purchased.

Consumers are the ones who set prices depending on the rate of "sharing" that takes place. The more people in society are comfortable sharing media (instead of purchasing it), the higher the price for the media needs to be. The cost to create the media is set by industry (wages, etc.), the cost per media unit is set by the total number of media units expected to be purchased by first users. If only a small group of first users are expected, then the cost per media unit will go up. If a large group of first users are expected, then the cost per media unit will go down. While this is usually not seen in micro-scale economics, it can be seen at the macro-scale with overall trends in media costs. I must admit this principle works in both directions, higher initial costs usually result in more sharing of content.

There was so much music sharing at one time, some experts predicted several music labels would collapse.

While I do purchase used content frequently, I do wish there was a donation button where I could contribute something to the original content producers - to help encourage the long term trend of lower first costs.