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High School Non-Fiction - 3rd Place


High School Non-Fiction - Third Place 
To Be a DVD or Not to Be a DVD
Alex Schwartz

Mr. Smith loves all things electronic. He loves his music, his Xbox, and his movies. After buying his sixty-four gigabyte iPod, Mr. Smith does what is easiest for him: he gets onto iTunes and downloads 500 songs at ninety-nine cents per song. Mr. Smith also loves his Xbox 360. He cherishes every touchdown attained in his newly bought Madden NFL download from the Playstation Network. Mr. Smith also adores his Hollywood blockbusters, but sadly, since the Blockbuster just down the street went out of business, he has been forced to stream digital movies on Hulu. Mr. Smith can’t imagine buying his media any other way. The digital media industry creates ease-of-access, but traditional hard copies of music, video games and movies create economic growth in more ways than that of digital products.

True, DLC, or downloadable content, is highly praised for the ease-of-access that it provides. Whether the medium of purchase for Mr. Smith is Amazon’s music store, iTunes (the App Store included), Google Play or Gamestop Now, DLC can be reached from anywhere there is an internet connection. With a high internet connection speed, DLC can be attained within mere seconds of pressing “download.” Another high praise of DLC is the exalted “cloud.” The Cloud is becoming ever present, as many businesses are creating their own version of this (traditional) atmospheric occurrence, it is computerized to let the user simply “dump” his or her music, files and game data onto a server out in California. If Mr. Smith is like most humans, though, he craves tangibility. This is where DLC fails to please. Mr. Smith can recall as a teen fingering his music disks and old Nintendo 64 game cartridges. Humans have always been accustomed to valuing tangible items, be they trinkets, clay pots, or music disks. As testimony to tangibility, Mr. Smith will be glad to tell anyone he sold his vintage Bon Jovi music collection for $200.

What would happen if the “cloud” disappeared? What if Mr. Smith’s data was on that failed server? The convenience of being able to pop a USB drive into a computer is a priceless object that can seldom overcome the beauty of the “cloud” when there is not an internet connection. Having his music disks within his grasp, video games on his shelf and old Blu-Ray disks in his exquisite video carousel makes Mr. Smith a little bit more relaxed.
Not surprisingly, the media industry and the federal government alike are trying to crack down on ten year-old delinquents and media thieves everywhere. Downloadable Content is often thought to be somewhat more secure than hard copies of disks and such. Many online “cloud” accounts like Amazon’s Cloud Player, Microsoft’s Live Network and iTunes have safeguards against the spreading of digital data. This is reflected when a product installation requests a serial number or other code. These safety measures attempt to protect against Online Piracy, an issue that has been debated among businesses and government. Markus Persson (pin name), the creator of Minecraft, stated his stance concerning SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) on his website, Mojang. He stated,
“No sane person can be for SOPA. I don’t know if we’re sane, but we are strongly, uncompromisingly against SOPA, and any similar laws. Sacrificing freedom of speech for the benefit of corporate profit is abominable and disgusting.”

Many hard-copy media outlets employ similar precautions to that of DLC. Examples include Microsoft’s Word that can be purchased in the form of a disk and can be installed on a single computer. Additionally, their software requires a long serial number. DLC is certainly nice, but hard-copy media works just as well.

Many good things come from hard-copy materials. Most items can be resold at music stores, game shops, or other buy-and-sell retailers. Politicians should examine the good behind hard-copy materials before trying to enact online privacy bills. For instance, Gamestop has a large business of buying games back and then selling them at a reduced price. In addition to that, Gamestop buys used electronics, such as iPads from consumers and refurbishes them. Obnoxious legislation, made to protect the product of the manufacturer, which prevents yard-sales and the resale of merchandise, is very over exaggerated and unneeded. Hard-copy materials create a very large industry that has shadowed the millennium-old concept of bartering.
As shown, Downloadable Content is very convenient. While it has its place, conventional hard-copy materials are still far ahead in terms of tangibility and resale value. Both types of media offer protection through computer algorithms and through the current law. Mr. Smith likes the new “cloud” concept, but after discovering the benefits of hard-copy merchandise, he will continue to keep such items on hand.


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