Let’s stop for a moment and think about what price actually means. “In general terms, price is the result of an exchange or transaction that takes place between two parties and refers to what must be given up by one party (i.e., buyer) in order to obtain something offered by another party (i.e., seller).” It seems pretty straightforward. I pay you to “own” something that you will give me in return for my money. But, this concept has one major flaw. What we perceived as being obtained, and what actually is obtained at a given price are two very distinct things.

At what point does having to pay for something that you’ve already paid for, over and over again become gouging? I mean, hardware is understandable, we usually see specification upgrades from one generation to the next, so having to pay for an upgrade is understandable. But, what about music? And, more specifically, what about music that you purchased on iTunes filled with DRM, then on CD because you wanted to “legally” be able to play it in your car, and now on iTunes again because it’s now DRM free. We have been told time and time again that ripping music and movies from our CD and DVD discs is unethical, and more pogniantly an offense that should carry time at Gitmo if the RIAA and MPAA had their wishes. So when does it become unethical to gouge consumers over and over and over again for something they’ve already purchased?

Rumors are abound that Apple has finally been granted, by the RIAA, the ability to offer consumers non-DRM based music. But, once again, it carries with it is rumors that another price tag of forty cents per song will be added to consumer costs per DRM song. So I paid $9.99 for an album on iTunes, then I paid 12.99 for the entire album at an HMV, and now if I want to be able to put that music on any device other than an iPod I’ll be paying another $3.99 per album to get it DRM free. That’s $26.97 for an album. Ouch! It looks like the actual cost is a lot higher than the perceived costs.