How copyright protection damages the environment

Industrial pollution power plant


I know what you’re thinking. All those annoying plastic packages and booklets and whatever. Nay. That’s all horrifically wasteful as well, and as people shift from “I like having the actual thing” to “I don’t care about having a bunch of stuff when I can just watch it online,” I think it’ll reach the inevitable point of the entirety of society ditching physical media. In fact we’d be there already if copyright holders realized they could drastically reduce production costs in doing so.

But what bothers me just as much is the fact that whenever I want to watch something, I am, for the most part, expected to watch it on a DVD. This is just plain stupid, of course, but I have plenty of friends that have things on DVD and I’m on good enough terms with them that I can borrow them whenever I feel like. This, of course, just begs the question. Why should I bother borrowing it?

If I want to borrow a book from a friend, I have to go there. Or he has to come here. Unless we’re both taking public transportation, it basically means one of us has to drive. We can time it to coincide with hanging out together anyway, but in many cases we’re too stupidly forgetful and might schedule a time to take care of this in addition. Or, if I want to buy something, I have to drive there. The carbon footprint of old media includes driving there.

So I figure, if I have a friend who has the DVD or the book that I want, I’m legally allowed to download it for free with no amount of money sent to anyone, since in terms of a cost benefit analysis, it’s indistinguishable from borrowing the DVD, but reduces CO2 emissions. They’re really not losing anything at all. I’d have borrowed it anyway.

And thus, obviously, we should set up an app that matches the DVD and book libraries of all our Facebook friends and call it the “I don’t have to spend money on this because my friend has it anyway” app. Clearly.

I’m being facetious here, of course, but it really is indisputable that I could just borrow DVDs anyway. If they don’t want to be stupid about it, they should just monetize a replacement for borrowing. If I want to drive to a friend’s house to get a DVD, they could just let me stream it. Then they’d get 100% of the ad revenue or Netflix streaming fee instead of getting zero dollars and increased carbon emissions.

You’d almost think this was simple, but some people just don’t understand how much money they’re leaving on the table.

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