we assume that you said yes

March 7th, 2010

It seems I'm late to the party. I read the call to arms on Ars Technica this morning (a site I like a lot, I have to say, although I don't really visit much), and I immediately felt like I should have some reaction to it. I've made a pass or two over the topic in the past, and so I felt hooked in. But nothing came to mind with immediate effect. So I put it away until I saw Brian's shot heard around the world on Planet Larry. And that's when it finally hit me what this whole thing is about.

Ars Technica is bending over backwards not to make The Big Accusation, namely "if you skip the ads you are stealing". And yet they still try to guilt trip you saying "well gosh, our business is on the line here, y'know?".

I don't know where Al Gore is, but there is a highly Inconvenient Truth here. And it is this: publishers are working from the assumption that the viewer has implicitly agreed to make them money without ever agreeing to it. This is why the Ars Technica article has to do that weird dance around the issue where they're not calling you a cheat, but then they are, but then they're not etc. Because if they did just come out and say it, they couldn't look themselves in the mirror, because they have more self respect than certain muppets.

Ars Technica couldn't live with themselves if they actually came out and said: Dear viewer, when we built this site we made the assumption that you would help us pay for it by looking at our ads. We never ran this by you, but we take it for granted that you have accepted this deal. Now we expect you to honor it.

There are others who are not so "modest", like the entertainment industry claiming billions in damages based on sales they would have had if the people who downloaded stuff had paid for it. Here again, the assumption is that the consumer agreed to pay for something, and then refused. So who's being cheated? The publisher!

But the viewer agreed to no such thing.

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