A startup called Navio is pitching its approach to selling music to record labels as a way to get around Apple's power in the music-download business. Instead of selling actual downloads, Navio sells consumers "rights" to music. They pitch it with a number of consumer benefits: you could get the song in whatever format you wanted, and could download it again if copy-protection technology changed or you got a new playback device. That sounds great, but the problem is that when a consumer buys these rights, they're buying explicit rights that let the record labels dictate exactly how the music can be played or used. Perhaps different rights for sale might allow users to share or resell songs, but what happens when labels decide they don't want their songs played on computers or another device, or want to change another consumer right into an entitlement? Selling music like this gives them just that opportunity. For all the talk of future-proofing digital music, plenty of fairly future-proof formats already exist, like MP3s or any other format without copy protection, or judging by the amount of vintage vinyl still around, CDs. Well, most CDs, anyway.
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