Why The Appearance Of A One Terabyte microSD Card Means The War On Unauthorized Music Downloads Is (Almost) Over

from the war-on-video-downloads-over-after-that dept

Moore's Law is well known. But many people think it's about how chip processing power keeps increasing. It's actually about the number and/or density of components on silicon. As such, it applies just as much to memory storage products as to processor chips. It's why you can now buy a one terabyte microSD card for $449.99. Never mind the price: although it's steep, it will inevitably tumble in the next few years, just as happened with lower-capacity microSD cards. What's much more important is what you can store with one terabyte on a tiny, tiny card. Mashable has done the calculations:

About 1,000,000 e-books (at an average size of 1MB per e-book)

About 200,000 photos (12-megapixel iPhone XS Live Photos at an average size of 5MB) or 500,000 photos (12-megapixel iPhone XS photos at an average size of 2MB)

About 250,000 iTunes songs (at an average size of 4MB for an average 4-minute tune)

About 222 Full HD movies from iTunes (at an average of 4.5GB per movie)

Perhaps the most interesting one there is the music. Spotify says it has over 50 million tracks on its service. That means a 256 terabyte microSD could probably hold every track on Spotify, and thus most of the recorded music that is generally available in a digital form. Even with today's one terabyte card, you can probably store the complete catalog of songs in a particular style or genre, which is what many people will be most interested in.

In any case, assuming Moore's Law continues to hold, it will soon be possible to buy a 256 terabyte microSD card. Yes, it will be pricey to begin with, but progressively cheaper. At that point, moves to stop unauthorized sharing of music online will be even more pointless than they are now. People won't need to download lots of stuff from dodgy sites any more; they'll just find a friend who has a 256 terabyte microSD card loaded up with all recorded music, and make a copy. After that, they just need to update the parts that interest them -- or find someone with a more recent complete collection.

The same will happen to videos, although that's a little way off, since something like a 256 petabyte microSD card will be needed to hold every film that has been digitized. But it too will come, just as the milestone one terabyte capacity has finally arrived, however improbable that might have seemed a few years ago.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Filed Under: copyright, piracy, storage


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 18 Jul 2019 @ 8:11pm

    The Library of Congress in a coke can dot xkcd foresaw this.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2019 @ 8:51pm

      Re:

      For the curious:

      https://xkcd.com/691/

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 6:11am

      Re:

      The Library of Congress in a coke can dot xkcd foresaw this.

      I think it was Vernor Vinge - Marooned in Realtime - that mentioned "Green's Database" an archive of everything ever published that a form of time traveller takes with them. Who's the high tech imposter, and how easy is it to find them if they've had a chance to surreptitiously edit the database?

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Jul 2019 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re:

        Never heard of Green's Database before, while the comic linked is about SD cards in the driftnet of my mind there was another comic where maybe it was the alt text about how much data a coke can of cards could hold.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 3:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Alt text: That card holds a refrigerator carton's worth of floppy discs, and a soda can full of those cards could hold the entire iTunes store's music library. Mmmm.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2019 @ 8:59pm

    This sounds like the wikivoyage.org guide to Time Travel, issued one 1 April, which suggested visiting the 26th century to dump every work ever created (on which the copyright would've expired by then) onto one large memory card to bring home as a souvenir.

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

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 18 Jul 2019 @ 10:45pm

      Re:

      Nice idea, but that won't work, because we can't read epub6 or pdf 5.2. Of course, we could compile these from the source we brought as well, but we don't have a driver for ext7 or btrfs3 filesystems. And even if we had, we still lack a nano-sd interface.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re:

        The microSD cards themselves have tiny computers that will evolve in abilities such as compatibility as the storage limit increases. These computers will negotiate with primitive operating systems like our own to display oodles of drives and folders if we wish to view them that way. Think of them as basic AI that wishes to serve by being interfaces from one OS to another.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 8:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A nice idea but backward compatibility has never been a priority for any tech advance. No reason to think it will become one just because we'd like it to be for our time travel fantasies. If there was a competitive advantage to compatibility that's another story.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2019 @ 9:19pm

    Undercover police will become "friends" to many. Watch prison time for pirates become the norm.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2019 @ 10:45pm

    Hmm... Log2(256)*2=16. If we assume that Moore's law continues to hold, it would take ~16 years for a 256 terabyte SD card (or equivalent) to come to market. I wouldn't really call that soon.

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

  • identicon
    rasz_pl, 18 Jul 2019 @ 11:36pm

    Already happened in retro gaming world. You can order <$100 chinese emulation consoles bundled with whole Game Gear/GameBoy/GBA/GBC/Genesis/Mega drive/NES/SNES library on SD card.
    Similarly PC retro fans have "Total DOS Collection", last years release number 14 was 100GB, this years 16 grew to 375GB mainly due to including more and more late multi CD titles. There are also eXo Dos and eXo 3.11 collection for early 16bit windows games.

    Thats more games that you could ever play in a lifetime.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 12:05am

    Yes, but how do I put that 1TB SD card into my iPhone?

    I can't seem to find a slot.....

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

  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 19 Jul 2019 @ 12:28am

    Back to the eighties

    When we taped and shared music from the radio.

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

  • icon
    Jeroen Hellingman (profile), 19 Jul 2019 @ 1:08am

    At Project Gutenberg, we've spend like 30 years to digitize almost 60.000 books. You will need about 100GB to download them all. Even in the unlikely case you can read one book a day, you'll still need two life-times to read them all.

    Now start looking at the millions of books on Archive.org..., or although illicit, Library Genesis.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      That brings back memories... I started contributing to PG back in 1993. Back then I had an 80MB HDD. By 1995 I had a collection of 90MB Zip Disks I stored my scans on while I converted them to ASCII text.

      Jump forward to ~2003 when I was doing OCR vetting, and had a computer with the massive storage space of 13GB to work with!

      Since then I've moved away from PG to help Archive.org instead. Hopefully some of that stuff makes its way back to the PG archives.

      I still have my 30GB collection of PG works though :) Useful for searching on any given topic through the collection of international works of the ages.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 2:21am

    How long will it take to copy 256 terabytes?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 3:52am

    Just to put Human creativity on the same scale

    About 222 Full HD movies from iTunes (at an average of 4.5GB per movie)

    Or less than 1 Minutes worth of uploads to YouTube.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 4:32am

    Border Trolls

    Now if only the "we must see everything!" mentality of bedwetters and fascists at borders would go away. They have been pointless for over a century and there is no way to stop microSDs from being smuggled.

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

  • icon
    arnvidr (profile), 19 Jul 2019 @ 5:10am

    Who cares about the downloads?

    I don't see how anyone would ever bother trading SD-cards to get "complete" music collections, so I don't see this having any kind of impact on unauthorised music downloads, either from the downloading or the hampering of it. What's more interesting to me is how much of my music I can have with me at any time.

    As someone who has quite a big music collection (owing mostly to the reams of independent excellent music that is free or cheap on bandcamp), I notice my flac collection is sitting at about 2TB. So whenever something like the FiiO X5 supports 1TB cards (which it might already do), I can have my whole collection with me in top quality.

    Of course, that same collection is much less than 1TB in mp3 format, so if I upgraded my old player to a newer model, I already can have it all.

    I expect the vast majority of people have no interest in even having a collection as big as mine, not to mention having it with them at all times, so it really has minimal impact on this in my opinion.

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

    • icon
      Spaceboy (profile), 19 Jul 2019 @ 6:02am

      Re: Who cares about the downloads?

      I agree. In the early days I downloaded vast libraries of content, only to have it take up hard drive space. It was a weird compulsion but I grew out of it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 5:25am

    I think the music industry is focused on streaming ,how many different companys can they get to pay for the same music that apple, google music , spotify has .
    Also when company x profits go up ,they just increase the streaming fees .
    Also they want to get as much money as they can from streaming revenue ,at the cost of actually paying money to the singers and the creators who make music .
    At this point they hardly care about piracey given the billions they can make from streaming .
    The new eu laws will enable them to get more money from youtube,
    any music clip we can find that has not been licensed .

    there,s no point in most people having millions of songs on a sd card .
    Most people will just want pop music ,rock, or or hip hop .I don,t think teens listen to any music made before 1970.
    A 100 gig card would probably be enough for the average user if it was in standard mp3 format.
    Piracy will always exist in any free society that has smartphones and laptops and pcs and acess to broadband .
    In cuba where theres a low rate of internet usage , people just buy usb drives with all the latest music and tv shows / movies on it.

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

  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 19 Jul 2019 @ 5:33am

    People also forget about off market apps that'll let you download anything you want.

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

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 19 Jul 2019 @ 6:18am

    Darknet vs Sneakernet

    Whether files are distributed over high-speed internet or nano-flash it's obvious that you can't simply legislate away sharing. It's human nature to curate and share with your friends.
    It's corporate nature to take things away and sell it back via copyright.

    When I make a copy - then we have more music, more stories. When a corporation forces an archive to be deleted we have less.

    How long before someone on Kickstarter hooks that 1 TB flash card to a short range wireless and creates a mesh internet that will spread new files to everyone within range?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Jul 2019 @ 7:14am

    "SD" name

    SD is short for "Secure Digital", where "secure" means secure against unauthorized copying by the owner. Compared to MMC it added a DRM scheme (CPRM), basically for the record companies, which makes this somewhat ironic.

    A DRM implementation is presumably still supposed to be present on every card, but because this never become popular, probably nobody would notice if it wasn't.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2019 @ 7:05am

    Not likely much will change, as we already have 256 gb sticks plus people could just swap hard drives anyway. There are ways to fingerprint individual copies if the need arises, plus "sneakernet" is vulnerable to sting operations.

    What will change is the quality and nature of content. Much of it will be marketing copy designed to promote expensive seminars, etc. Fiction will become advertising copy since there won't be much point in selling it, and patronage will be the norm.

    Enforcement will be much stricter since the ease of stealing will be used to justify that.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2019 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      Explain why YouTube is full of interesting and educational content? Also note that patronage by a fan base, to support people with a demonstrated ability to create, is how many on YouTube produce the content that they give away to everyone.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2019 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re:

        not everyone on YouTube makes a lot of money, and patronage is pretty rare except for the quasi-porn stuff. The big channels do well with advertising and marketing. I guess you think PewDiePie is critically acclaimed because he's rich.

        I did say advertising will replace sales of content but it will also change the nature of that content. High-quality productions like TV shows, feature films, etc. are giving way to blogging, reality shows, prank/comedy videos, makeup tutorials, and academic tuturong/aids. Some of this is forced by piracy, a lot more of it by increased competition.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2019 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hi, Herrick. Back to the "but more creators mean people I don't like start making stuff!" argument are we?

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 21 Jul 2019 @ 2:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          not everyone on YouTube makes a lot of money, and patronage is pretty rare except for the quasi-porn stuff.

          I see numerous channels plug their Patreon pages. No idea how representative that is.

          High-quality productions like TV shows, feature films, etc. are giving way to blogging, reality shows, prank/comedy videos, makeup tutorials, and academic tuturong/aids.

          There are still more movies and TV shows than you could possibly watch; you can let go of your pearls.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2019 @ 3:32am

    About 1,000,000 e-books (at an average size of 1MB per e-book)

    About 200,000 photos (12-megapixel iPhone XS Live Photos at an average size of 5MB) or 500,000 photos (12-megapixel iPhone XS photos at an average size of 2MB)

    About 250,000 iTunes songs (at an average size of 4MB for an average 4-minute tune)

    About 222 Full HD movies from iTunes (at an average of 4.5GB per movie)

    and About 1/100th of my porn collection

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


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