Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker
andrewducker

A rant about law and digital media

This morning I posted the link about Bruce Willis discovering that when he dies, his children won't receive his music collection, because it's digital, and thus not actually his. This led into The Guardian running a piece on whether you own your digital content. The answer to which is, of course, no. You own a license to listen to it/watch it/read it. When you die, the license ends, and all of that stuff you bought vanishes into thin air.

Which is one of the reasons I refuse to pay for anything that I would normally expect to own and is locked down to prevent me from reselling it/moving it around at my discretion. I mean, my license from Amazon tells me that I can't redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, sub-license or otherwise transfer or use it, but frankly I bought those MP3s, and if I want to play them at my birthday party then I'll do so, exactly as if I'd bought a CD from them. Nor will I be setting my hard drive to self-destruct the moment I die, so that they cease to exist. Because that's not how I (or most other people) think of their music collection. I grew up reading my parents books, listening to their music*, etc. and I'm damned if I'm not going to do likewise with my kids purely because the books, music, DVDs etc. are all digital now.

This coincides with a discussion I had at work about Spotify. Which I love, and is awesome. But is locked down completely. And that's fine for _me_. I listen to it mostly on my phone at work, sometimes on my computer at home. And then it came to the Tivo plugged into my TV. And I can listen to music in my living room, which makes me very happy. But if I'm at work listening to music, and Julie decides to listen to the music on the TV then *pow* instant cutoff. Because listening to music in two places at once is clearly bad and wrong. The fact that in ye olden days Julie would have been able to listen to one of our CDs at home, while I listened to a different one at work is besides the point.

And actually, we _both_ have Spotify subscriptions - so she could listen as her when I'm at work. But the Tivo app doesn't make that easy, you have to actively log out and then log back in re-entering your user name and password using a remote control, which is frankly an exercise in frustration. And why on earth can't we _both_ be logged in on the TV, so we can see the playlists of _the family_, which is how living rooms usually work?

So, in fact, we usually end up streaming MP3s from the networked hard drive, because that's less hassle than using the service we're paying for. A ridiculous situation caused entirely by legal/contractual decisions, rather than by people trying to provide the best service they can. Instead they ban apps which would make them work in a standards-compliant way with the consoles many people have.

The metaphors of the past have been stretched to breaking point. The media companies and laws are not going to let go of the old ways until they see somewhere they can go to that will make them more money. And in a purely digital world that _does not exist_. The future is free content, with people paying for (a)services that make it simple to get your hands on it (Spotify, Kindle, etc.), (b)sponsorship for new albums/books coming out (Kickstarter patronage), (c) associated items**/tours, and (d) advertising.

And I feel sorry for people making money off of books, music, etc. Because for the very few that managed to make a living at it (some of whome read this, and I like rather a lot), this is a massive step backwards. And the quality of what is produced may well go down. But I simply can't see any other way the world will end up, and the current tension isn't good for anyone except for the lawyers who make money pointlessly prosecuting the occasional person who is unlucky enough to be made an example of***.

*The Beatles: Awesome. The Dubliners: Less So.
**Associated items, in this case, including physical books, for those people with a fetish in that direction..
***Of course, those of you who read people like Cory Doctorow are almost certainly entirely aware of all of this already. This was more of a rant to get it out of my system than anything else.




Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.
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