The "Service" economy

03/25/2024 - Levi Neuwirth - for immediate publication

I was not surprised to learn of changes today in the EULA of Blizzard Activision, a large (and profitable) publisher of video games. This is the latest company with a focus on digital media to make an anti-capitalist move.

Let's be clear: whether or not you support capitalism, if you claim that ownership of goods and the trade of goods is the cornerstone of capitalism, then companies who do this are distinctly anti-capitalist, for they are violating the cornerstone of the ideology. 

The day of owning things that you pay for is over. The only way to truly own content, whether it is music, ebooks, movies/television series, or yes, the title-sake - video games, is to pirate it in a way that is DRM free. How did we get to a point where illicitly obtaining copies of your media is the only way to guarantee your continual access to said media? Instead of paying, and within in the transaction signing away your rights to ownership of the product you've paid for (and usually: any content that you create within the premise of the product; this is what we call the "waiver of moral rights"), the safest way of obtaining a copy of a product is to use versions of it that have been modified to allow your perpetual "ownership" and, if you believe in copyright law, illegally distributed.

Sony and Amazon are two other corporations which have taken similar moves. If you pay for content, for instance a video game through Sony's store on the PlayStation consoles, or a book on the Kindle platform, you are given no guarantee that your access to said content will be perpetual. Thus, it is in the best intent of the shareholders (who are the corporation; let's be honest, this is how decisions are made!) to move everything to a digital platform where they can impose their will on the majority of users who do not use free software.

In fact, even free software products are not immune to this. An example of this which I have vocally opposed is MuseScore. Though MuseScore's free software for composition is excellent, the online platform that even default users are pressured into adopting has an absolutely horrendous privacy police. I reached out to MuseScore about this roughly a year ago and got a very corporate sounding response promising they would look into it. Doesn't look like they have...

Please take action to voice your support for companies who act ethically and to use your power as a consumer by joining me in refusing to support companies who remove all value from their products. I hope you will join me in a boycott of any corporation, company, or platform who does this.

this text may be freely distributed - 03/25/2024 for immediate publication