Exchanging Money For Goods

I often find myself wishing I could write as well as my wife can (Rockelle.com). I’m sure that if I had her skills I could write something which would flow beautifully and incline other people to link to it. I want to be able to do that after reading something like: Charging People and the two commentaries to which it links Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content and the rebuttal Misunderstanding Micropayments.
But here is my best attempt anyway. After having read all three I come down squarely on the side of Scott McCloud’s editorial (Misunderstanding Micropayments) and I don’t believe it’s just a misguided idealism on my part. Here’s why. A couple of months ago I had used up all my free downloads (you don’t get many) from iStockphoto.com and I wanted an image or two for something I was working on. The only solution I had was to buy a block of “download credits” for a $10 fee. I was not liking that choice in the slightest. However, had BitPass or some other micropayment system been accepted by iStockPhoto I could have purchased just the two images I needed for the $0.50 each cost at the highest price they charge. Even if they had charged $0.55 or $0.60 per image because I wasn’t paying them for a block of 20 downloads all at once I still would have preferred paying the small additional amount to having 18 credits ($9) sitting in my iStockPhoto account until the next time I need some royalty free images for a project.
So, Clay Shirky’s article (Fame vs Fortune) had the opposite effect of the one he intended. I’m going to go sign up for BitPass. I’m going to use my $3 worth of micropayments to explore some new stuff I might not have otherwise investigated. But once BitPass stops being a test service and anybody can sign up to offer content through it I’m going to start pressuring some of the sites I really like to use it. I want iStockPhoto to offer me individual downloads and not just large blocks, I want Penny Arcade to offer me an easy way to download their comic and commentary (or receive it in email) every day without having to go to their site, and I want to go to Liz Phair’s or Radiohead’s or The Dandy Warhol’s website to download a song and pay $0.50 or $0.75 cents for it. I don’t want to go steal the damn song (because frankly that’s a pain the ass) and I’d really like to have most of the money go directly to that artist, not to Apple or one of the fine members of the RIAA.

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