Digital Shoplifting

Japan's Digital Shoplifting Plague – Fantastic use of camera phones, I love it!

It's becoming increasingly clear that we live in a world where the majority of people simply don't understand “digital”. Over in Japan, the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association is on the warpath trying to stop browsers in bookstores from taking camera-phone photos of their magazines, calling it “digital shoplifting”.
As an example, they say that a woman may flip through a magazine and see a new dress or hairstyle, and snap a photo to send to their friends to ask what they think. The magazine publishers are angry that this is (they believe) taking money out of their pockets. Of course, that assumes (probably incorrectly) that the person would have bought the magazine in the first place or that they wouldn't then go and buy the magazine anyway.
Meanwhile, bookshop employees say they'll have trouble stopping this activity, since they can't tell whether someone is just sending a text message or if they're using the camera phone.

Based on this idea, shouldn't we be forced to claw our own eyes out? Or, at the very least, have all magazines and books wrapped in black shrink wrap to prevent someone from (gasp!) actually seeing any part of it before buying. Perhaps it really is time for someone to invent the DRM helmet and make sure that anytime you see anything, you get charged for it.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and