The Cost Of Storage And The Futility Of Stopping Copying

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 26 2012 3:51 PM

The Cost Of Storage And The Futility Of Stopping Copying

Here's a nice point from Julian Sanchez and Cory Doctorow: Most of the thinking on Capitol Hill about "piracy" utterly fails to wrestle with the reality that in the future copying is destined to become radically easier than it is today.

Consider that 30 years ago, Seagate introduced the world to the SG-506 with 5 megabytes of storage for $1,500. Today they sell a 4 terabyte drive for less than $450. Where you used to get 0.003333 megabytes per dollar, you know get 9,320 megabytes per dollar in nominal terms. Thirty years from, random individuals will easily and cheaply be able to store all the songs you could possibly imagine. Shutting down large-scale data centers isn't going to accomplish anything, you'd need very intrusive monitoring of everyone's activities all the time to prevent copying from running amok. It'd be intrusiveness on the order of what it would take today to stop people from lending books to friends. Either content production will survive a world of nearly ubiquitous file-copying, or else some other kind of system like Dean Baker's arts vouchers will have to be devised.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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