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Music (or digital media) licensing

Hi gang. I've been thinking a bit about the futility of trying to protect digital data such as music.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to discuss (unless someone can tell me how you can ever protect it from being copied). What interests me is; when you buy a CD, what rights do you get. The information on the CD is limited - no complex terms and conditions that you get with every software package you install...

The record companies are upset that they are losing money. Strange because they never seemed so keen on correctness when they charged us full price to buy a cassette of music we'd already bought on vinyl and then a CD of music which we already had on vinyl and cassette.

If I buy a CD I presume I am free to play it myself. I presume I may play it in the company of friends. I presume I can copy it for my personal playing. I further presume that I may sell it on. And I presume I can lend it to someone. This may be against copyright (I don't know the detail) but in the UK regardless of stated law, if the majority of people do something different then it can be challenged as 'common law' (part of our unwritten constitution).

So, to further extend this to encompass music stored on a hard disk, presumably I can play it, my friend (who I 'lend' it to) can play it, as long as I'm not playing it at the same time (he could play it from a shared location - just like if we lived in a shared house he could borrow it from my CD rack).

So theoretically I could share my record collection with 100 other people as long as I manage the collection so that there are no 'collisions' (multiple people trying to play the same track at the same time).

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that trying to protect the current licensing model is infeasible, but actually the current licensing model is wrong.

Is per-play licensing the solution? (it gets round the inequality of paying the same price for 2 CDs; one of which I regularly play and the other which I played once and quickly tired of) But how do enforce this anyway...?

What is the predicted position 10 years from now? Is there a solution to the current problems?

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Actually, some copyright notices say no lending and no public performances.

At some point, perhaps it's defined by a certain # of people sharing it with 200 people is lending. By your logic you could set up one of those diner juke boxes that pipes everyone the same songs and just as long as everyone in the diner is my friend (hey, i'm a friendly guy, my customres are like family) I don't have to pay licensing.

Philo posted something about this a while back that was very knowledgable.
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Copyright is about control - you have whatever privileges the author chooses to grant.

The courts have created some fair use privileges, like quoting for commentary, reproduction for educational use, copying for backup purposes, etc. But they're privileges, not rights.

And broadcast/performance is one of the rights that authors control.

There's a lot more to this, but I'm sleepy. Ask more questions. :)


Sunday, January 11, 2004

I've heard you're allowed to make "archival copies" to protect your investment, but I don't really know the validity of that (it seems to make sense, but it wasn't a lawyer that told me).  If so, could you make a case that the copy you stored on someone else's computer was your archival copy, and allow them to play it as long as you made sure you didn't simultaneously play it yourself?

On a related note, I sure wish more things were licensed like the old Borland "No Nonsense", "Just Like a Book" license.  That made things easy, I thought.

Monday, January 12, 2004

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