Another Evil Business Model from Big Media: Sell-Again

Aside from the business model of claiming ownership of all culture and then leasing that culture back to us, Big Media has another evil business model: sell-again.

Sell-Again is different from the term “resale”. “Resale” is the implication that when you purchase a thing, you then have the right to sell that thing to someone else. “Sale-Again” is the model where a company continue to try and sell you something you have already bought once before.

In some cases, there is an additional value-added proposition that encourages you to buy that product again. These often have terms like “extended edition” or “directors cut”.

In other context the “sell-again” can take the form of a change in media type. Here is where Big Media has glutted itself for the past 40 years, and because of this hopes to create situations where “sell-again” can continue into the future. Media-Type refers to the physical objects that contain the information. In the case of moves there has been one big sell-again event, and 2 smaller ones. VHS to DVD was the big sell-again moment for video. People who have large video tape collections went out and bought DVD to replace those VHS tapes. There was also a short time when “Laser Discs” might have supplanted VHS. We are now moving into the digital download space where Big Media hopes there will be a similar sell-again event like the jump from VHS to DVD. They hope there will be a rush to re-buy movies on DRM digital download to replaces DVDs just as there was to replace VHS.

The most pronounced case of Sell-Again comes from the music industry where they have cashed in on 4 major re-buy events. Vinyl to 8 track, 8 track to cassette, cassette to CD, and CD to digital download. There are people who have bought a single album on every media type, me included.

However now that we are in the digital world, there should NEVER be a need to re-buy any media. No mater what form of presentation devices may be in the future, the information converted in those digital files should be easily and freely converted to that platform. A exception to the “never need to re-buy” rule might be high quality or additional features, but that is in essence a new purchase rather than a re-buy.

To some degree when media made the first digital steps in the form of CDs and DVDs, at that point the need to re-buy stopped. However Big Media has waved the red-flag of litigation in an attempt to block people from copying media they own from those disks on to their computers.

In the past there was a physical object with natural laws that drove sell-again events, Vinyl  disks wore out, cassette tapes broke, and CD scratched. Also the move up the chain also gave greater access to information because of the physical media type. 8 tracks were more sturdy than Vinyl disks, cassette tapes held more music than 8 tracks, CD didn’t have to be rewound and didn’t have fading sound quality.

Big Media doesn’t want to let go of the possibility of future sell-again events. However because there is no physical container to wear out or break, Big Media has to create an artificial factor to simulate this. It’s called DRM or Digital Rights Management, and this it Big Media is hoping to create all the old factors in the analog world so as to drive sell-again events in the digital world.

One example is “where” you purchased your digital download music from. Big Media wants to create a sell-again event hoping that as consumers move from service to service in the future of the Internet, they will have to re-buy their music or video collections. Of course this is completely artificial as regardless of the format of the digital data, it can ALWAYS be converted.

Another example is using DRM to build artificial scarcity into the economic model. In the digital world scarcity of data does not exist. Economics 101 tells us that if there is a shortage of a good, then the price of that good goes up. However, in the digital world, infinite copies of data can be made and distributed virtual instantaneously and at little or no cost. Big Media has to use DRM to artificially limit access to some media so as to try and create that price bump that comes from a shortage.

One could argue that media companies have done this forever, limiting runs of books for examples to raise the book’s value. But in the past, an average person could not replicate a book on mass by themselves. in the digital world if a company tries to limit the sell of a digital book to raise it’s value, that books will simply be copied and distributed on mass by average people.

Rather than learning from this and not trying to create artificial scarcity, Big Media has instead chosen to litigate and lobby. Litigate by suing customers who would dare violate their evil business model and lobby governments to make striker laws to protect their right to have evil business models.

Consumers need to understand that once they have purchased a CD or DVD they have EVERY RIGHT to copy that media to their computers, iPhone, iPads, and any other future devices that come along.  Consumers also need to be aware of things they buy online to make sure that they are free from DRM, which would allow a consumer to take that media with them into the future without the need to buy it again.

We also need to put pressure on elected officials to not pass laws that enable Big Media to continue to use evil business models. More importantly, we need to radically change the way congressional and executive election campaigns are funded in the US so as to completely remove corporate and intrust money from any part of the process. Only then can we be sure that our elected officials are working for us, and not for Big Media, Big Oil, and Big Tobacco, who funnel billions of dollars to elected officials to fund their election campaigns.

Leave a Reply