01 March 2008

Copyright and my music and movies

One of the issues I find I am dealing with in regard to the iPOS and why it doesn't work with other programs than iTunes is DRM, or Digital Rights Management, and AAC/.m4p . The iPod is set up in such a way to try to prevent "piracy". Then again, so is the Toshiba gigabeat, but I don't have any problems with managing that unit. But the iPOS is a whole other thing.

I don't mind artists getting royalties for their work, but I do mind pieces of software telling me how to organise my music collection. Forcing me to use file formats I don't want and reorganising my music files on my computer. Even more so when the software is set up so that it constantly crashed my equipment.

On the other hand, I have 7 to 11 mp3 players (number depends on if you count computers). Fair use allows me to be able to listen to this music on any of these machines. As I have said before, I don't use file sharing programs, but I have an extensive music collection. I don't like being told to use one piece of software or equipment: especially if that software or equipment doesn't work for me.

Another headache I have is that some of the music and movies I want to see distributed aren't getting as wide a distribution, or even being distributed in a way that rewards the artists. Case in point are videos, especially those being pirated, sold in one region and not another, and so on.

The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts. To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art.

The problems is that there are now new ways of getting music, video, literature, and other art forms distributed. Yahoo had an article about how the music industry has missed the mark on the internet and using the internet as a method for distributing music and videos. That's really true.

First there were the peer-to-peer networks, which the Recording industry has basically shut down. On the other hand, there are now sites in places like the Ukraine (MP3 Fiesta) which distributes recently released albums for 99 cents a pop. This is opposed to other sites which charge as much for a single song.

But the real issue to me isn't so much the price of downloading as much as the access to material. Take Nikolas Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus Wien's recording of Jan Dismas Zelenka's Hipocondrie. Das Alte Werke hasn't reissued this on CD, but it's available as a download on the internet. I've seen it for $2.99. Maybe that price is in Euros, but the point is that for anywhere from US$3-6, I can have a digital copy of a work. Das Alte Werke has caught up with this and say it will reissue this work, but how many people have downloaded it already.

And, I can replace a work that I sold from my vinyl collection despite the fact that I need to back up my downloads and don't get album art and notes (not much of a loss in the days of the CD) for much less than the price of a CD. Additionally, most of the cost of a CD is profit (and distribution costs). But, cutting out the middleman drastically reduces the cost of the music.

And getting material to the audience is the real issue. I was thinking of howthe Beatles came to the attention of Brian Epstein by people asking for copies of "please, please me" and Brian searching out the Beatles. A musician can use the internet to connect with his audience.

That's the real point of this post is being able to make music available to the audience should be the focus of the music industry.

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