The next time someone claims that not having intellectual property laws will squash the little guy and let established companies rule the day, I’m going to remember to bring up Netflix. Mike Masnick at Techdirt reports on Blockbuster’s recent decision to file for bankruptcy — after the heroic Netflix has stolen most of their customers:
Late last week, there were a ton of press reports about how Blockbuster was preparing to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September. It’s not shutting down, but just trying to restructure its debt, get out from under a bunch of store leases and try, try again. That said, this is yet another example of the fallacy of the claim of many that if you have a good idea some big company will just come along, copy it, and be successful. It also demonstrates the huge difference between idea and execution.
Netflix had a good idea and executed well on it. But for years everyone thought it was only a matter of time until the company got destroyed, because all these bigger (at the time) companies were just going to copy Netflix and win. First it was Wal-Mart. The retail giant started a service that seemed almost identical to Netflix way back in 2002. Everyone thought there was no way an upstart like Netflix could compete with the likes of Wal-Mart. Fast forward two and a half years and Netflix took over Wal-Mart’s online DVD rental business, because Wal-Mart’s offering couldn’t compete. …
And, of course, there was Blockbuster. It came out with a Netflix-like offer around the same time that Wal-Mart did, and while it held on for much longer, it was just never able to build up the same sort of userbase that Netflix did, and now the company is going to declare bankruptcy and try to restructure once again.
More at the link. It just goes to show that when you give people a little liberty, you never know what someone will come up with. A giant like Blockbuster or even WalMart can spend as much money as they’d like trying to copy an innovative, well-executed idea, but at the end of the day, the one who best pleases consumers will rule.
My favorite part of this piece of ideological tripe is its title, which you have also seen about a thousand times before: ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Damaged Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism.Is anyone in America not sick of this formulation by now? “Catchphrase: How This Thing I Hate is Stupid and Did Some Things I Disapprove Of.” Granted, these authors have absolutely nothing new to say, so it behooves them to give their best effort on the cover of the book.
But seriously, authors, how about we lighten up on how seriously we take our books. Not only will no one care about them in three years, but it’s not like they are even standing out in the market anymore. In less than twenty minutes of searching on Amazon I came up with these titles:
God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It
Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream
Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence”
Seeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda
One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All
Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches
Big Lies : The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth
The Republican Noise Machine: Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy
The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right
Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else
What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America
Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America
Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America
Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church
The New Color Line: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy
Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy
Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance
Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America
The Raw Deal: How the Bush Republicans Plan to Destroy Social Security and the Legacy of the New Deal
Monsters to Destroy: The Neoconservative War on Terror and Sin
Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation
Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America
Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane
Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses
. . . and I was nowhere near exhausting the supply of titles bearing this meme. I really despise this fad in publishing and writing, as should all true Americans. In fact, you can pretty much live by this rule of thumb: any book containing this kind of trope for its title is not worth reading, period.