offset \ˈȯf-ˌset\ noun

a force or influence that makes an opposing force ineffective or less effective

Free entertainment

The word "free" in the title refers to both the "free speech" and the "free beer" paradigms. The former is preferable, but I'll talk about both. Homo Ludens, right? Also, "entertainment", so I won't delve into how fun learning can be even though information that facilitates learning can be fairly easily obtained. This can also encompass access to materials that are needed for some type of work, but that is a topic for another article.

I was told some years ago that it was impossible to get entertainment without paying for it. This is simply wrong and ties in with the mainstream point of view. What it really tries to suggest is that it is impossible to get mainstream entertainment without paying for it, which is wrong as well, but now at least we are getting to something.

Mainstream is something we find universally consumed, it satisfies the common denominator of taste and receives a lion's share of spotlight. On the other end of the divide are all things niche and divergent, pushed to the margins of consumption, difficult to define by themselves, but easy to recognize in opposition to the mainstream.

This inevitably leads to the topic of piracy and I do know that this topic is extensive, but I'll just paraphrase Cory Doctorow by saying that the problem for artists is not piracy, it is obscurity.

We're witnessing information anxiety as is, and the amount of information we are exposed to is huge. This leads to some things being swept under the rug or never reaching an audience. With the lack of knowledge or money, people are less likely to even manage to push out their work, let alone reach some sort of popularity. Google is digitizing books and offering them as search results, although keeping the copyright in place because it only shows snippets. There have been some problems with this approach, but in most ways digitizing books preserves the information for the future.

Each country imposes some form of legislation pertaining to the copyright of works. The most common approach allows copyright to expire after some time so that the work subsequently falls into the public domain, which means that anyone can use it however they wish. In the grey areas of copyright coverage orphan works persist, their creators or rights holders deceased or impossible to find. Abandonware is a good example of this. Even though the copyright is still in place, the original author makes no money off of it and does not try to do so.

When works are essentially accessed without permission, we are talking about piracy. The justifiability of acquiring works against their copyright, regardless of whether they have been abandoned, or are unavailable in a location, or are neither of those things, is, however, a topic of a much larger debate.

In the end, some artists deliberately publish their works without copyright or with explicit terms of conditions that their work cannot be copyrighted by someone else. Sometimes this is dubbed copyleft or publishing the works under creative commons where some rights are reserved, but not all and the author does not earn money off of things, yet still holds the rights to do whatever he wishes with his work.

Since so many things have been digitized in some way and published online, the argument from the beginning of the article, that it is impossible to find entertainment without paying for it, does not hold entirely true. Piracy aside, as well as infotainment, which conceals from us things that are maybe better tailored to our tastes than what the mainstream is pushing on us, there are various services online that publish works that can be obtained for free.

Here's a rough list and it is likely to be extended and put somewhere for easy access:

Other popular services like GOG, Steam, Amazon books and similar are offering some free content as well, but their main source of revenue is selling things. Some services sometimes end up hosting copyrighted work that is accessible to everyone and the works are taken down ASAP. Youtube is an example of this, but what is seen cannot be taken back. Still they combat this as much as they can. This is just a random occurrence and if you want copyrighted work, you still have to buy it.

To earn enough money to get by and continue creating, artists have to publish their work through various services, but the more popular the service is, the more they have to be popular in order to get a minimum wage. This is something to think about. The best option in the end is to donate directly.

Lastly, I use a lot of the mentioned free services myself and I never lacked entertainment in any form. You should try it yourself and stop using peer pressure as an excuse.