Dispossession: the end of Ownership

Under feudalism, only the titled landowners have property. Peasants could only rent land, and ultimately had no possessions but their wages and clothing. 

Imagine if you could no longer own your books or records or videos or games or software. Imagine libraries could not own, and thus could not loan, such infoprops. The information is detangibilized into bits, and these bit patterns are temporarily downloaded to you from cable or LEO satellites, through special appliances which meter your use, debit your bank account ,and prevent copying. This has been aptly named the "Celestial Jukebox." 

Matlab, Divx, Pay-Per-View, e-books, Audible, discussions of "annual subscriptions" to Microsoft Windows. Copyright dates which keep slipping into the future with minor edits. These are all portents of the new info-feudalism. There is even a sign in the EULA which finally caused some consumer unrest

We did not sell this property to you, we only licensed it and we can terminate this license at will.
Don' worry! Maybe the end of ownership will be good for consumers because the prices might go down. Pay $5 and use Microsoft Word for an hour. Pay $5 to read the latest Random House novel on screen. Pay $5 to watch a particular episode of  Universal-Paramount's Star Trek. Pay $5 for an hour of any Nintendo game. Pay 25 cents to listen to a 3 minute Warner song. A program is just a program.

Don't Worry! Maybe this will be good for creators. Instead of your fans owning tokens which they can access again and again, and  loan to friends, and sell after they read it, each reader will have to pay per view. Instead of the publisher printing your book and maintaining inventory, they won't have to manufacture anything! But they will still take 90% of the gross proceeds because they had the power  get your book on the jukebox menu..

The copyright landlords have so much power from printing magic money that they can wish for any law.  Law against having information which you didn't legally pay for. Law against reverse engineering copy protectionLaw which allows charitable deducations for donations of copies of software. Even Law which gives publishers the penultimate wish - an extra 25 years to print more magic money! 

The Celestial Jukebox is their ultimate wish - no fair use, no expiration date, no secondary market,  no libraries. A perfectly efficient scheme to collect rent forever, leaving peasants with no possessions but our wages and clothing.

 Copyright © 1999 J. B. Pollack