Bid farewell to your collection of movies, books and music. In another 25 years—maybe sooner—shoppers won't own most of the digital media they consume. So there's no way to save your library for future generations.
Purchases of digital media have been skyrocketing in recent years. Digital movie sales increased 47 percent in 2013 to nearly $1.2 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, while Nielsen found streaming-music consumption rose 32 percent, for a total 118.1 billion streams. E-book sales are up 45 percent since 2011 and now represent 20 percent of the market, reports the Association of American Publishers.
A quarter-century down the line, analysts say, there's little reason to expect that the consumer will be more often flipping the pages of an e-book on their tablet computer than picking up a hardcover, and streaming video through their Web-enabled TV rather than turning on their Blu-ray player. But the shift is likely to have far-reaching consequences. "Our traditional assumptions of ownership are really frustrated by these digital distribution models," said Aaron Perzanowski, an associate professor of law at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.