Benkler and Castells only briefly touch on something we have also briefly discussed in class, the topic of p2p sharing, especially in terms of (free) music, movie, and TV downloads. While I'm human and of course want something free if I can get it, the trend of free file sharing and pirated movies, music, software, etc. does bother me. I suppose it is a human trait to want to keep your money and not spend it if you don't have to. After all you worked hard for that money, so if you can avoid spending it on movies, music, etc. shouldn't you?
However, someone else worked hard to produce that media so why do we believe they should just give it away for free? We wouldn't expect a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk for free just because we don't want to have to pay for it. Now there are the arguments that recording companies and studios make so much money off of their products, which it is implied, is undeserved (and I'm not getting into the unfair payment distributions, that's a whole other issue), so why does it matter if we download it for free? But does anyone really think if all media was either produced by small independent labels/companies, who didn't take big profits, or even self-produced it that there wouldn't be such a proliferation of p2p sharing? I seriously doubt it. This system could also make it harder for the small upstart media companies because people have gotten used to not paying for their media and won't want to start just because its a small company trying to get off the ground and make a profit.
We've seen this trend with newspapers too. People don't want to pay for online subscriptions (full disclaimer, I'm totally guilty of this too) and so the companies have to turn to the dwindling ad revenues to keep their sites and sometimes the entire paper afloat.
People still get annoyed if they have to wait through commercials for free online content, as we've discussed in class. However, someone has to pay for the work to be done. If no one pays musicians, writers, actors, directors to produce the media, they're going to find another job that will pay them and our media supply will decline. They might continue to produce media on the side because they like it, but it won't be of the same quantity and quality as if they could produce it for a full-time job.
While there are many issues involved in this discussion, to me, one of the main points it boils down to, is why do we think its ok to not pay media producers for their time, effort, and products? Isn't it a commodity just like everything else we pay for?