An Epilogue of Sorts

Days before we submitted the final draft of our manuscript to MIT Press, news broke of Nest's decision to kill the Revolv. A device that consumers bought and reasonably assumed they owned was rendered worthless by the very company that sold it to them. This was precisely the sort of abuse of law and code that motivated us to write this book. Luckily, we had time to include it.

But as we wrote The End of Ownership, we became increasingly aware of the seemingly limitless supply of developments that illustrate the worries we express about consumer property rights. And now that the book nears final production, it feels like those stories have only increased in their frequency. In just the last week, we've seen reports that Kobo users will lose hundreds of book titles thanks to a software "upgrade"; that iTunes users risk losing gigabytes of their personal music collections when they sign up for Apple Music; and that Apple plans to stop selling downloads altogether in favor of a purely subscription-based model. [Apple subsequently denied that report, for what it's worth.]

We always knew that the shifting relationship between consumers and the products they use was, by definition, a moving target. The history, themes, policies, and examples we cite in our book tell—we hope—a compelling story about the risks facing personal property in our increasingly digital economy and the steps we should take to preserve ownership. But we intend to supplement that story here, in part by adding to the long list of incidents that demonstrate the assault on consumer rights, but also through new analysis of the broader trends we observe.