If I buy an ebook from a non-Amazon supplier (Indie, etc), I get my pdf, epub, and emobi (Kindle) files. I can then share these files with my friends and family. If I buy from Amazon, I need additional technical knowledge before I can 'crack' the file and send it to friends and family. OK, this is annoying but not insurmountable.
I buy a LOT of audio books from Audible (another Amazon company). I love them. I walk for 3-4 hours a day and there is nothing better than doing so with a new book narrated into my ear. As I don't have many friends (yes, boo hoo me), I have never wanted to share my books that I have 'purchased'. Now, my brother has signed up and has become addicted to the siren-call of quality audio books. It is great value and allows you to listen to fantastic titles from business to classics to romance and thrillers. No argument there. BUT, I can't share my books with him, nor him with me.
This made me think about what is happening to our society in general. Microsoft made the brilliant business decision to licence its software to IBM. IBM didn't care; it was only interested in making computers. Who cared about software? Over the decades, this licensing arrangement has become the norm. No one owns anything. Everything is a licence. You can't share or sell or enjoy any of the usual attributes of ownership.
In my research into the First Nations of Canada, I was struck at their members not being fully cognisant of the concept of ownership. I would suggest that many non-legally trained people also lack the full understanding of ownership. Over the centuries, we have sliced (salami-like) our ideas of ownership into various categories: legal, beneficial, reversionary, and so on. People would receive life-tenancies, or fixed tenancies. The government would regulate and enforce these forms of ownership and people became confident enough in the structures to start funding those with ownership. The banks/lenders would take security against one's legal, beneficial, or reversionary title. They would take security against leases or freeholds. They would take security against projected cashflows. All of this requires ownership.
In London, and throughout England, the richest families have been allowed to retain freeholds while leasing out the property that sits on top of it. Think of the Portman Estate, and much of the best parts of central London. All of this allows people who sit along that ownership spectrum to licence, lease, borrow against, sell and do what they want with the asset in question (subject only to the contracts to which they have restricted themselves).
However, if all we own are licences such as the ones we receive from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and other proprietary business models, we are doomed to head in one direction--serfdom. Many people rent their homes (in Germany, it is almost 70%, in the UK, almost 30%). Almost all software is licensed. We are expected to act as a consumer or use the software to create more value. Most of us simply consume. It is like a piece of fruit. We never own something like this. It is perishable. Like fruit, we can eat it and become strong or we eat it and do nothing. Most of us eat and subsist.
Licencing of software has been a wonderful innovation to allow for companies such as Microsoft, Apply, and Amazon to become insanely big and powerful. But, it is also eroding our ability to be the masters of our own destiny. Instead, we are becoming pawns on a chessboard, constantly monitored and sold additional consumable 'add-ons'. Merely being on the chessboard doesn't make us players. Someone else is always in charge.
Until we recognise this vulnerability, we will continue blindly down this alley until it may be too late. The next generation is growing up without a concrete sense of ownership. They are growing up in systems created by others where nothing is owned by those within the system.
Just a thought.