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Next Unfair Competitors to Snuff Out: Hopscotch, Public Domain Books

Rebecca Tushnet has offered a balanced commentary on recent criticism of the BBC’s decision to put much of its content online for free. I’m afraid I’m not going to be so fair.

Apparently OFCOM believes that even self-destroying free downloads amount to unfair competition against commercial outlets:

In addition to limiting investment by commercial rivals, Ofcom said it was also concerned about the impact on related markets such as DVD rentals and sales. For this reason it has recommended that the BBC’s on-demand service reduces from 13 weeks the planned amount of time that users could keep downloaded programmes.

This reminds me of the recording industry’s laments about a weeklong celebration of Beethoven that provided free and legal downloads of his symphonies for seven glorious days.

Why stop at this free substitute, though, OFCOM? Why not go after any free entertainment? How about that cruel George Eliot, distracting people from on-demand “Footballers’ Wives” as they gleefully peruse Middlemarch for free? Why not ensure children forswear from learning playground games? It’ll only reduce their capacity to consume entertainment.

Indeed, why not commission a latter day Bastiat to petition for the blocking of the sun?

We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low escort bayan samsun price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of . . . industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival, which is none other than the sun, is waging war on us so mercilessly we suspect he is being stirred up against us . . . .

After all, fair weather may keep people away from the Telly.