The Bruce Willis dilemma

Interesting piece by Dan Gillmor up on the UK Guardian site: The Bruce Willis dilemma? In the digital era, we own nothing.

Bruce Willis, the movie star, may or may not be amazed that he’s not allowed to bequeath his Apple iTunes music collection to his children. A Daily Mail story alleging this has apparently been disowned by the actor’s wife.

Whether the story is true or not, it nonetheless highlights one of the largely unspoken – and outrageous – realities of the digital age: ownership is disappearing.

And here a comment, and a response (by yours truly):

Good article……And this has terrifying ramifications….
More concerning than anything is the amount of libraries closing down, due in large part to the rise of electronic reading devices such as kindles….
50 shades of wank assured that for first year every electronic sales outstripped paper….
Slippery slope…..
Books burned….total electronic dystopia….
Well on the way….

Well put. As an early adopter of e-book technology I never took the “threat” to the printed page seriously. “Who would prefer a real book to an e-book?” Digitizing was originally used to preserve titles that were out-of-print and would otherwise be lost forever. That’s still a very valuable service. But now we see publishers committing themselves to a course that gets them out of print altogether and solely into what amounts to the “leasing” of access to digital media. it means higher profits for them, but in the long run makes our common literary heritage even more vulnerable to permanent loss. As the last “non-volatile storage medium” (hat tip to “Blank Reg”), the printed book is the only thing between us and that “total electronic dystopia” (with the concomitant reduction in “shelf life” — I have seen 200 year-old books, but electronic media are pretty much unusable after a decade or two without application of herculean restoration efforts) — but I fear as you do that we’re probably living on borrowed time at this point.