Thursday, October 08, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

Or, Why Geographical Restrictions Make No Sense.

Yesterday, I tried to buy and download some songs from the German version of Amazon. These particular songs aren't available on Amazon US or iTunes US, so I hunted around and found them. (Makes sense that they're available in Germany, because they're German pop songs, right?)

So I clicked on "buy", and got an error message. "Sorry, but you can't buy these songs. The files are limited by geographical restrictions." (Or the German equivalent - I don't really trust Google Translator to give a fully accurate English version.)

But the main point was, I was out of luck. My money wasn't good there, because my computer isn't registered in Germany. Too bad, so sad, only certain people can buy those songs.

To that I say, WTF?

Geographical restrictions on digital content MAKE NO SENSE. We live in a global society, with interests and connections that go well beyond arbitrary borders. It's crazy that people who want to buy an e-book can't because sales are limited to certain countries. It's stupid to tell people "your money doesn't work here, because these pixels can only go home with a person living over here."

Those songs I wanted to buy? They were featured on a German soap opera that I watch on YouTube after English subtitles have been added by a team of three fans who live in three different countries. The commenters are from all over the world. There's really no such thing as a geographical restriction when it comes to people's interests. So why should there be one when it comes to supporting the artists who stoke those interests?

What's worse is, preventing people from buying content legally makes illegal filesharing more prevalent. Now, as someone who makes a living off copyright, I refuse break it just to get those songs I wanted. But that doesn't mean I wasn't tempted. As it stands, I don't have the song, the artist doesn't have the royalties, and everybody loses.

So please, Powers That Be, get rid of those geographical restrictions on digital content. Let the fans support the artists, and the artists get their due. It's time for the rules to catch up to the new, interconnected world. And I really want those songs!

1 comment:

Maia Strong said...

I totally agree with you! It's like not being able to watch BBC content on I understand that as a publicly funded entity the locals should get to view it for free. But for those of us on the other side of the pond, I see no reason why they can't provide the same content, but with advertising by show sponsors, like on Hulu. Of course, Canadians can't watch Hulu, but I think that's a case of a Canadian law, not the website.