I don’t like stealing stuff. I remember with heated embarrassment, even now, flogging the milk money on the way to school when I was six. I’m sure even then I was trying to justify it: these people are not even smart enough to use milk tokens! I’m much the same with the stuff I steal now: its mostly music and movies on the internet (well, pretty much entirely music and movies on the internet, and the occasional almond off my partner’s breakfast cereal). I’m both embarrassed by it, and find the justifications I make pretty lame; the artist doesn’t get much anyway, the big music companies have it coming, its too expensive for a person on the wrong side of the planet, if I watch it, and its good, then my telling everyone about it will mean they will watch it ‘paid for’ at the movies or on broadcast television… all true, but its still stealing.
So, how do I get around that? There are a couple of things I’ve found recently that let me indulge at a price I can afford, and also let me reward those I want. Its a Stallmanite paradise out there right now, or at least, the vision of it approaches.
The first is music. The Internet Free Music Archive rocks. There are tons and tons of people supplying all kinds of music to it. Here are a couple of examples from different genres that have made it into my playlists:
The second thing is paying for it. Flattr is a service set up by the wise and beneficent people who brought you the Pirate Bay. You pop some money in from your credit card, and then click on any flattr buttons you see floating around the net. A set amount from your stash is divvied up between the people you â€œflattr’dâ€ at the end of the month. It’s kinda new, so lots of places haven’t signed up (it comes out of Germany, so there is a heavy Euro/German slant to it right now) but you can get Flattr themselves to contact websites to get onto the scheme. The fisrt thing I flattrd was synergy: a free bit of software I use to control multiple computers from one keyboard and mouse -I’ve used it for years, and its a nice feeling to contribute back.
Movies. That’s a trickier one. I bought M and I cards that get us into the films at Rialto here in Dunedin cheap – so now I resist downloading new things, so we can go see them ourselves. Old movies are still problematic. The library doesn’t have a good track record of having DVDs that are in playable condition. I’ve looked into fatso, but its not significantly cheaper than going to the films once I’ve got my discount card working.
Books. There will be a further post about books, but I’ve always been a big fan of libraries. That, however, might have changed recently…