Monday, November 28, 2011

[Book Review of Robert Levine's "Free Ride"] Inconspicuous Consumption; New York Times, 11/25/11

[Book Review of Robert Levine's "Free Ride"] New York Times; Inconspicuous Consumption:

"In “Free Ride,” a book that should change the debate about the future of culture, Robert Levine argues, in effect, that Samuel Johnson was right, and that it’s the self-interested Silicon Valley technology companies and their well-financed advocates who are wrong. “The real conflict online,” Levine writes, “is between the media companies that fund much of the entertainment we read, see and hear and the technology firms that want to distribute their content — legally or otherwise.” By delivering content they don’t pay for, or selling content far below the price it cost to create, Levine says, information and entertainment distributors like YouTube and The Huffington Post become “parasites” on the media companies that invest substantially in journalists, musicians and actors; the distributors drive down prices in a way that sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture. The result is a “digital version of Wal-Mart capitalism,” in which free-riding distributors reap all the economic benefits of the Internet by cutting prices, and culture suppliers are forced to cut costs in response. This dynamic, Levine argues, destroys the economic incentive to create the kinds of movies, television, music and journalism consumers demand, and for which they are, in fact, quite willing to pay."

No comments: