Do What You Want With Your Music (Except Trade It, Share It, Sell It, Etc.)

from the getting-better dept

One of the problems that arises when companies try to import physical-world restrictions into the digital world is that the idea of ownership becomes hard to define, if not meaningless. When somebody buys a track on iTunes do they own something tangible (it would seem not), or do they simply own the right to listen to it on a specific device (which isn't really ownership)? The big media companies would rather not deal with this question, but they may have to since the current restrictions and DRM schemes prevent people from enjoying media as they please. For example, if people had more flexibility with the various movie download offerings, there's a good chance they'd be more inclined to use them. As it is, pirated versions are much more flexible (and thus useful). Now a new company is hoping to solve this problem with a system that specifically sells the right to access a given piece of media. In a perfect implementation, it would be completely device neutral, and have the added benefit of allowing the user to re-download all of their media should, say, their hard drive crash. The model would be similar to a subscription news site, which can be accessed from any device assuming the user has the password. The biggest challenge, with a system like this is getting various device makers and media companies to agree on a system. Similar systems in the past have run into these problems. Given how much restrictiveness helps a company like Apple, it's unlikely that they'll play along. Such a scheme won't solve all of the problems with DRM, but ensuring that when somebody buys a media file they can play it or use it anywhere, would certainly be an improvement.
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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2006 @ 11:24am

    The boundless faith in the free market economy runs into harsh reality when a business realizes if they can pull it off, closing their systems and building a monopoly can be much more profitable than sharing with others. On the other hand, in a real free market, industry groups wouldn't have the stranglehold on content that makes the whole situation possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wolfger, 22 May 2006 @ 11:39am

    At least one company gets it...

    Pardon me if I plugged this before (I really can't recall), but I recently got a free trial to emusic.com, and I am thrilled to find a site that finally understands what people like me want: Legal downloads of DRM-free music that will play (or burn to CD) on any platform. Unfortunately, their selection is fairly sparse (almost entirely older stuff, or non-mainstream), but their business model (of letting you own what you buy) is a winner!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zaq, 22 May 2006 @ 12:49pm

      Re: At least one company gets it...

      I want to wholeheartedly second your comment. emusic.com has been an absolute dream; been a member for a few months now.

      However, I must disagree with your assertation that their selection is limited. I find their selection to be vast. I always run out my 90 monthly downloads within a week after they have "refreshed".

      emusic.com provides INDEPENDENT music. No album pressed by a major record company is on emusic.com, nor will it ever be. Since I listen to 99% independent, anyway, it's a great thing. They have everything! Folk, Country, Jazz, Blues, Punk, Hardcore, Metal, Rock, Comedy, and a wide selection of Classical.

      I LOVE IT.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    big steak, 22 May 2006 @ 11:48am

    This why LALA is making a killing.

    At 1.49 for each cd, how can it be beat?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      The Ghost in the Machine, 22 May 2006 @ 11:59am

      Re: This why LALA is making a killing.

      Yeah seriously. Who wants to pay $19.95 for a CD with DRM crap on it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous coward, 22 May 2006 @ 11:50am

    sadly, recordings of myself passing gass would actually improve the content on emusic. isn't being horrible music a form of DRM in itself? if nobody wants your music because it sucks ass, it is protected...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2006 @ 12:22pm

      Re:

      And what constitutes "good music"? Britney? K-Fed? 50 cent?

      Now those are "artists" (i use the term very loosely) where the sound of you passing gas would be an improvement over the "music" (again i use the term loosely)

      I will admit that emusic's selection is not the biggest, but they do have a lot of great music at a great price ($.20-.25/song depending on the plan)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    CravenMoorehead, 22 May 2006 @ 11:53am

    I'm just waiting for the RIAA to come up with some convoluted logic in which they can sue Lala out of business. Then they'll convince Bush that allofmp3.com is developing nukular weapons and their servers need to be taken out in a surgical air strike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 May 2006 @ 12:18pm

    I still don't quite get the priceing of CD's... about $20 for 60-70 minutes of music from a 5 person band (probably a total of 10 people for a production then the rest is in distrubutation, etc..) against $20-25 for a DVD Movie which has over 100 people working on it. Lets see... Music... probably under 500K to make... movie 10 million or more...

    So...

    You decide....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Blaise, 22 May 2006 @ 12:46pm

    Problems with the System

    What if people start sharing their password for accounts, BugMeNot style or something?

    And, as with any DRM technology... if you can hear it, you can record it.

    But agreed, at least it is a step in the right direction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe Baker, 22 May 2006 @ 1:29pm

      Re: Problems with the System

      BugMeNot doesn't allow sharing passwords for sites that charge (although I'm sure people try to anyways). I forsee this ending up more like the mess that is hacked porn site passwords, go on your favorite torrent site or whatever and get a huge list of compromised logins and start watching movies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lastresort, 22 May 2006 @ 2:43pm

    Apple Restrictive?

    Apple has said again and again it breaks even on iTMS. They don't make money on it and only do it since the rest of the industry would not come out and support the iPod, and the record industry demanded copy protection. Apple could care less whether or not music needs to be copy protected, the iTunes music store is still the best place on the web to buy music and would continue to be without the requirement (by the record industry) for copy protection on content. ITMS would continue to dominate with or without Fairplay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Maddog, 22 May 2006 @ 4:17pm

    emusic dot com

    Emusic only has a limited selection if you listen to the mainstream crap that's out there. Funny how the music industry whines about lagging sales. Maybe if they put out a decent product they would have decent sales. Personally, I am pretty damn tired of paying $18 for a cd with 1 or 2 songs on it.

    I am with some of the other posters, I use up my 65 downloads in about 10 minutes every month and keep my mp3 player well stocked with new metal. It's way better than any music store I have come across and their selection of ecclectic artists is tops.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 22 May 2006 @ 4:38pm

    prices

    I really don't understand why i can buy a cd in stores for 13-15$, and the same cd can be 20$ online. The reason it is that expensive in stores is because of shipping, packaging, manufacturing, etc., but online its just duplicated files! What the hell do they need that extra money for? Buying 1 extra hard drive?? They only need space to store 1 version of every song.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BigEd, 22 May 2006 @ 4:45pm

    I Don't Care...

    I don't and won't buy from any of them, especially Apple's wormy crap and their brain-dead followers that don't know music from a bad passing of gas. Any music file that is less than 224k is nothing that I want nor would I pay for it. And then to boot... it is encrypted so I can't do what I want with it. There are plenty of places to get what ya want and for free, ya just need to know where to look.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jeremiah, 22 May 2006 @ 4:57pm

    Earth to Joe...

    Joe, it's not your music!


    I am a songwriter. I write/produce a song. I hold the copyright.

    It's not yours.

    I sell you a license to listen to the song (that's what you're actually buying when you purchase a CD/DVD, etc.) You download an mp3 to your computer.

    It's still not yours.

    The song becomes the "soundtrack of your summer." It's played at your wedding. You sing it on the way to work.

    It's still not yours.

    You cannot "share" the song online or send mp3 copies to friends...that's publishing and distribution, and the law says it's *my* exclusive right to manage that process.

    You cannot put my song into a video you shoot and upload it to YouTube (that's a public performance, again, my exclusive purview to manage.)

    If you don't like these conditions, you have a couple of choices: don't purchase work that's covered by US and International Copyright Law- go with Creative Commons artists exclusively. Or, you can petition your elected representatives (at least here in the US) to CHANGE THE LAW.

    Despite your best wishes, you are not entitled to listen to any music at any time you please....that's not the power the law gave you as a consumer. While technology (P2P, Internets) have outpaced the coverage of law and enforcement, that does not constitute the right to engage in that behavior.

    I've commented before on Techdirt's rather (continuing) myopic view of DRM (and the law in general with respect to copyright, enforcement, etc), because you continually frame DRM issues as an inconvenience to consumers and some kind of hobbling of some kind of innate "right" to consume media at whim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      know the law, 22 May 2006 @ 5:13pm

      Re: Earth to Joe...

      You don't seem to understand the LAW of which you talk about so boldly. The entire basis of copyright law, as set forth in our Constitution - is to benefit the public, NOT the creator.

      The Constituion grants ownership to the creator with the stated purpose of encouraging artists to produce new works (books, music, etc) that will enrich the lives of the public.

      This being the case, Copyright law need only be protective enough to encourage new works. Obviously, is should not be so strict as to benefit creators AT THE EXPENSE of the public for which it is intended.

      I am willing concede that if copyright infringement got completely out of hand, it would deter artists from creating new works, so i admit that at some point, DRM becomes necessary.

      BUT JUST REMEMBER - the onus is on the artists to demonstrate why added protection BENEFITS THE PUBLIC... not the other way around.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 22 May 2006 @ 5:44pm

      Re: Earth to Joe...

      Jeremiah, I think your post is unfair to both Joe and Techdirt.

      He isn't saying that sharing music is legal or that it's okay to do. He's just saying that it's silly for a company to put a bunch of restrictions in place and then say you can do whatever you want with it.

      If you don't like these conditions, you have a couple of choices: don't purchase work that's covered by US and International Copyright Law- go with Creative Commons artists exclusively. Or, you can petition your elected representatives (at least here in the US) to CHANGE THE LAW.

      This is the silliest point that you make. What we're doing here at Techdirt is exactly that. We're trying to educate people to understand the issues so that they can help to make our elected officials understand it.

      It's funny that you tell us to try to push for change, while yelling at us for DOING EXACTLY THAT.

      I've commented before on Techdirt's rather (continuing) myopic view of DRM (and the law in general with respect to copyright, enforcement, etc), because you continually frame DRM issues as an inconvenience to consumers and some kind of hobbling of some kind of innate "right" to consume media at whim.

      Again, this is an incorrect reading of what we say here on Techdirt, and I apologize if we haven't been clear. However, your assumption is 100% false. We do not believe there is an innate right to consume media at whim. We believe that it's clear consumers are demanding such a solution, and we're making that point clear. It's not about a basic "right," but showing what the market wants and helping the industry understand it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        RoyalPeasantry, 22 May 2006 @ 11:48pm

        Re: Earth to Joe...

        Quite right Mike...

        I think Jeremiah has confused the viewpoint a little..

        We are not saying that stealing is right, we are not saying that we have free reign to do whatever we want with your music.
        As you said, we cannot distribute, sell, or use your music in any product of our own. Thats copyright law and it makes sense to me. The songwriters spend a lot of time and effort making the music and they have a right to make a profit off of it.

        Thats not our problem with DRM. Our problem with DRM is that it makes 'fair use' by the comsumer difficult or in some cases impossible and even illegal... 'Fair use' consisting of the actions we should be allowed to take with our music... including backing up, making our own music mixes on cds, copying to mp3 players... in other words using our music in whatever way is most convenient for us...

        That IS our right, or at the least as Mike says, that is what we demand as our right. And if the music labels don't give us that right they are going to have a problem.

        When we buy a song we want the right to listen to it in wherever, however, and whenever we choose. This means we want the right to make as many copys of our music in as many places as we want.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Jeremiah, 23 May 2006 @ 12:26am

          Re: Re: Earth to Joe...

          RoyalPeasantry speaketh: "We are not saying that stealing is right, we are not saying that we have free reign to do whatever we want with your music.
          As you said, we cannot distribute, sell, or use your music in any product of our own....

          ...Our problem with DRM is that it makes 'fair use' by the consumer difficult or in some cases impossible and even illegal...When we buy a song we want the right to listen to it in wherever, however, and whenever we choose..."


          Well spoken.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jeremiah, 23 May 2006 @ 12:06am

        Re: Re: Earth to Joe...

        Mike: thank you for taking a moment to post.

        "He isn't saying that sharing music is legal or that it's okay to do. He's just saying that it's silly for a company to put a bunch of restrictions in place and then say you can do whatever you want with it."

        Then why didn't he write that? I guess I misinterpreted the headline...or the context of the post.

        His assertion, however, that the "idea of ownership becomes hard to define, if not meaningless" is kind of ridiculous given past discussions on TD about copyright law. He poses a question about tangible ownership and references a TD article about an (clearly) illegal eBay sale of a song?? Talk about a red herring.....

        It's funny that you tell us to try to push for change, while yelling at us for DOING EXACTLY THAT.

        I"M SORRY FOR YELLING! Point taken. :)

        "We do not believe there is an innate right to consume media at whim. We believe that it's clear consumers are demanding such a solution..."

        I implore you to open a front page post with those words. The Techdirt Digital Rights Manifesto???

        "I think your post is unfair to both Joe and Techdirt."

        Point taken.

        I think I was trying to articulate something along the lines of "this doesn't have to be so complicated because IT REALLY ISN'T" and I think that came across as "I'M SMARTER THAN YOU, ASSHOLE!" I know TD's trying to be an anchor of sanity and grounded thinking, and I'd like to think I'm helping that. Probably not today in particular, but overall... ;)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BigRef, 22 May 2006 @ 9:05pm

    eMusic

    I had never heard of eMusic. What a great service. But then, I love music. Hate hype. eMusic is perfect for me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brad, 23 May 2006 @ 1:37am

    Music Rights

    As many others have pointed out, Jeremiah doesn't get it.

    If I purchase a song legally from iTMS, I am granted the right to play it on my iPod, or through iTunes. The problem is, that isn't what I want. And really, the first time I discover that, I feel duped by my retailer (apple). So as a consumer, I act out.

    I have no problem purchasing products when they meet my expectations. Since there is no return policy at apple, I had to engage in repeated, severe criminal acts (DMCA violations and the like) when I switched mp3 players from an iPod to a CE device.

    I don't run file sharing programs. I don't use a song in the background of a youtube movie. I just want to play the media I legally purchased on my mp3 player.

    And that's where DRM is harming the public good. Would you bolt your car to the concrete to keep someone from stealing it? That's DRM: cripple the usefulness to prevent theft. Think about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 23 May 2006 @ 3:41am

    Free Markets

    One thing I find over and over on this topic @ TD is statements like:

    "If I purchase a song legally from iTMS, I am granted the right to play it on my iPod, or through iTunes. The problem is, that isn't what I want."

    So why purchase it? I think the key here is that those that dislike the current use of DRM - remember DRM is a technology that can be configured anyway a license holder chooses - dont want to let the markets work. It sad to say but this is reminiscent of a 4 year old who wants it NOW and has no patience to wait. If you want to change Apple's policy (one example) than the MASSES need to reject iPods/iTMS so that economically this business model does not make sense.

    One significant notable is the people who post on this board appear to be technology savvy and were probably the first to adopt Kazaa and other P2P networks but fail to realize that the mainstream music listening population does not have the same technical inclination to seek alternatives. Therefore most people are faced with the question "Am I getting enough value from this purchase?" and are forced to make a black and white, Yes/No decision. To date the "yes's" are winning easily given the success of Apple/iTMS and the other services that are replicating the model.

    So again back to my point on the masses. If the masses say yes than as the minority you need to realize that you can feel morally right, try to argue legal points (although futile since you cant make someone sell you something on your terms) but ultimatly you may never win the battle since once a tipping point is reached it is hard to change the tide. Well at least it does not happen quickly.

    Oh I guess there is one more alternative, the folks complaining can go out and create "better" music and than distirbute it however they choose.

    Good luck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous Coward, 23 May 2006 @ 8:41am

    RE: Do What You Want With Your Music (Except Trade

    At this point I would gladly accept if they set up music to where if it sold so many cds then they would offer it without the DRM like so many months after release of the cd. CDs that didn't sell well would include the DRM. At least this way we could get older music, and not have the restrictions on them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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