Media Consumption: Redefining Content Ownership in a Digital World

  • An increasing number of consumers are switching to digital content for movies, music and books. The approach has benefits, including convenience and cost, but may also be leading to a loss of rights and abilities we’re accustomed to as consumers.
  • Fortune writer J.P. Mangalindan expressed concerns that systems such as Amazon’s new lending library would change the meaning of ownership since users would be relinquishing actual ownership of content in favor of a rental model.
  • The ability to stream digital content online has led to the same kind of transformation. Services such as Spotify and Netflix have allowed users the freedom of streaming content anywhere, and have made subscribing to such a model affordable and convenient.
  • GigaOM raises an interesting concern: “Apart from our simple human need to own and collect physical objects, however, there’s also the way that renting changes our legal relationship to the content we are consuming. Amazon has shown the downsides of this in the past by actually deleting copies of e-books from people’s Kindles remotely after a complaint by the rightsholder — and those were copies that people had actually bought, not rented.”
  • If we move closer to a streaming, rental-style model for all content then perhaps consumers would eventually prefer a short-term license to use content over actually owning it. But what if Netflix or Amazon decide to change their terms of service? “What if companies decide you no longer have the right to watch certain TV shows or read certain books?”