Is Digital Ownership a Raw Deal? — Thoughts on Tech & Things

The fine print in those terms we breezily accept turns out to be a bigger deal than we thought—it’s giving us a lease on our digital stuff, not real ownership. When you pick up a digital movie, music, or game, it’s all tangled up in some complex licensing deal that could make your stuff just stop working or disappear.

Remember when owning a CD or a DVD felt solid? Well, even those good old physical copies are no longer a sure bet. Today’s video games are a prime example; they land in our hands unfinished requiring huge downloads and bug us with updates and digital checks just to play. 

And it’s not just entertainment. Our houses are filled with ‘smart’ things—lights, locks, and other gadgets—that rely on costly online services. And we’ve all seen what happens when those services go dark—the stuff we paid for turns into expensive bricks.

So what’s really yours today? If the internet suddenly went poof, a lot of our tech would just be expensive paperweights. I guess you could always curl up with a good book—just make sure it’s not on an e-reader.

Opinion