Things are Tough All Over

And even worse in certain states, like Ohio (double-digit unemployment, that’s us). Based on some conversations I’ve had recently, I have to wonder, does it justify certain, if not illegal, then unethical behavior?

For example, doctrine of first sale says that if you buy a physical object, it now belongs to you and you are entitled to sell/trade that object. But what if you purchase A, trade it for B, then trade that for C?

Right now there are services that allow this sort of bartering, most usually of books, CDs and DVDs. It’s easy to say “Who cares? The studies/record companies/publishers are bazillionaries” but what about the authors/musicians/filmmakers?

The average author’s advance is $5000 and the huge majority of authors cannot make a living with their writing. Like the record business, only about 10% of published books make a profit. And those products (authors, bands) that lose money are quickly discarded.

What role do these ‘barter/trade’ services play in which artists/authors get the opportunity to release a second book or record? (and I don’t want to hear any bitching about libraries; it is not an adequate analogy, don’t even try)

It begs the question – does a person’s precarious financial position justify denying an author/musician their royalty, especially if it’s a matter of buying A, but then embarking on a trade chain that results in the use of B, C, D, E, F etc. for free?

Tech folk – would it be okay if someone used a design, script, code, banner, you created without compensation? Worse, if it was utilized multiple times?

Scientists/researchers – is it permissible for someone to use your formula for their personal benefit without paying you?

Is it alright to piggyback on someone’s broadband internet connection or cable/satellite television if they just got laid off?

Buying books, CDs, DVDs – these are recreational activities and objects, not food, heat or life-saving medication. We all have to make choices on where we spend our disposable income. Some go for expensive coffee, others for satellite radio and DVR, and some for that monthly salon hair coloring.

Making a different choice means doing without others; it does not mean we are entitled to use/have it all for free.

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