Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Regional restrictions of digital content - or - "that's a really dumb idea"

Credit: US Geological Survey
If you live outside of the US, you'll probably be familiar with this scenario.

Your favourite artist or author releases something new. They dutifully link you to the Kindle edition or iTunes  store. You happily log on, your credit card twitching in your eager paw and...
This item is not available in your county.
Curses! Foiled again.

You now have to order the physical item, pay an additional delivery and customs fee, and risk losing said item in the post (and let's not mention all the times it has taken months to receive an item that should have taken two weeks). Of course, my guess is that most people these days are now resorting to piracy or circumventing the restrictions through shadier means (spoofing IP addresses, faking physical addresses, paypal is probably involved at some point too).

My response to that... is pooh!

It's a digital age. There's no logical reason for digital content suppliers to use geography as an excuse to deny sales.

Oh, I'm sure the big publishers and suppliers have reasons. Contracts -  no doubt written sometime during the Seventies - sitting in their drawers, highlighting the whys and what-the-hecks of denying half the globe the same instant, affordable content that the big countries are allowed. But, gosh darn it, I have a Kindle and I have an iPod and I want to fill it with my favourite things.

Indie authors get it. I have yet to find an indie book that wasn't available in my region, or one that is as highly priced as some of the big authors ($16 for the Kindle format of a backlisted book - I think not publishers!). For this reason, my mainstream author purchases are now primarily at second hand stores (which probably doesn't profit the publisher or author) and indie books are getting a permanent chunk of my monthly budget.

Why don't the big publishers cotton on to this fact? Why can't music executives? Television and movie distributors?

You see the pattern?

The very people who would profit the most from global content distribution are the ones building digital borders. These same people are also spending millions on combating piracy, when they already have the means to reduce it.

People aren't generally nefarious pirates by nature. Our natures are to want things quickly, easily and within the confines of our stretched bank balances.

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