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The Early List – May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011

Good morning everyone,

I really don’t have a comment about this, because the headline says it all:  Does Franklin Graham Support Trump For President After His Speech In Vegas?

More intersestingly, Ars Technica had a discussion this weekend about whether Netflix (who consumes nearly 40% of US bandwidth) is lowering internet piracy of movies.  The idea here is simple.  People looking to watch movies (or tv) have two different goals.  The first is to minimize expense, while the second is to maximize ease of access.  For the average internet user, piracy has an extremely low (free) expense, but a very high ease of access barrier (getting the correct software, finding a torrent, making sure its a real torrent, downloading it over the course of minutes or hours, then watching it).  At the other extreme, traditional movies are easy to access (go to a theater or buy a dvd and watch it) but a high price.

Netflix has taken a middle position.  For a small fee, you have better access than even traditional methods give you, and you don’t have to risk getting sued.

This goes back to one of the issues I am continually raising about the future of the internet.  The entertainment companies like their theater/dvd model because it gives them the maximum amount of control over what you watch and when you watch it.  Piracy is the obvious (though illegal) pushback against that goal.  Netflix has shown that giving consumers maximum legal access can not only be profitable, but also make piracy much less attractive.  Unfortunately, like the situation with the cable companies and their fight against consumers getting better broadband access, entertainment companies are stuck in a “buy a disk” mindset.  We can hope that Netflix and similar companies can be the push that these companies need to allow better access to their products.

Will someone please give cursive writing the burial it deserves?

Finally, Consumerist is taking a magnifying glass to checking account disclosure documents and not liking what it finds.  The infographic they show is especially interesting.

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