Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I was trying to comment on this post by Jess about restricted-access pay-to-read poetry blogs. Blogger was choking or something, so I don't know if my comment went through, but here's what I tried to submit:


I'm not real comfortable with the idea of renting poetry. Sure, nothing would stop you from printing out a stack of pages with URLs and "Page 2 of 2s" on them, but after a year your unrestricted access to the poems and personal entries disappears unless you chip in another six bucks (for a chapbook that isn't really a chapbook and doesn't actually belong to you).

This idea of you-only-paid-for-access may be new to poetry blogs, but it has existed in other incarnations for several years now. The RIAA's recent change of heart regarding the legality of ripping tracks from your legally-purchased CDs comes to mind; nowadays they say you only bought the CD, not the information within, and not the right to transfer said information to your MP3 player (bull). Also coming to mind: MLB's shafting of customers who purchased Digital-Rights-Management-crippled videos that became useless once MLB stopped supporting its proprietary software. Sorry, sports fans: no refunds for your dud videos.

I realize that DRM and password protection have two very different purposes as far as the consumer goes, but the concept of ownership in this case is the same: you're not paying to own, you're paying to access, or, rather, rent.

My desire to own poetry might seem a bit, well, possessive to some. However, when I purchased Foursquare feat. Jess, I received a delightful little package I can read at my leisure, loan to a friend, or stuff in a bottle, cork it, and throw it to the seas if I want. Never, though, will the little pouch staple itself shut and say "Fork it over, Bucko." If I stop subscribing to Sports Illustrated, my swimsuit editions don't go *poof*.

The blog'll be an interesting experiment, and hey, if she starts getting some extra cashflow out of it, then bully for her for applying the idea. I'll still be purchasing my music DRM-free, though, and my poetry in books.


Alex said...

Perfect. I honestly tried to say it this well, but couldn't good point. Renting poetry is not for me either and this does remind of DRM.

Willie Ziebell said...

Thanks, Alex. I was kind of thinking my way through it while I was writing, and I was hoping it wasn't too scatterbrained.

I finally got the comment to go through, so I'm going to close comments on this one, as the discussion's really taking place over there.