Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 24 July 2002
Note: the comments below are the unabridged
submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.
From: Chris Bell For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: Copyright and music As I've tried to say before in this forum, the notion of consumers being allowed to create backup copies of CDs 'for free' is nonsense. If I buy a car so I can drive to the Coromandel at weekends, I don't purchase the right to own a 'free copy' of it for driving around Auckland during the week. If I buy six beers for this evening from the bottle shop, do I receive six free beers to drink tomorrow night? I don't think so. I can't believe New Zealanders continue to be so hard of thinking. The vast majority of consumers appears to believe music should be free and that the "big bad record companies" are exclusively to blame. If you buy a CD, all you're doing is purchasing a sound carrier and a limited use licence to listen to that music under certain specified circumstances. If you don't like that, go and listen to the radio. At least then, the broadcasters have already agreed and arranged to pay a fee to the copyright owners. That's the way it has (almost) always been with recorded music and I see no reason why that should change. Aardvark Responds If, as you assert, buying a CD provides you with a "licence to listen to that music" then why should a scratch on the disk invalidate that licence? When I buy software on CD I get a licence to use that software and, if the disk gets damaged, most vendors will recognise that I have already bought such a licence and replace the disk for the cost of the media. Why won't the recording industry do this too -- then there'd be no need to burn CDR backups would there? It strikes me that they (the recording industry) are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Either we're buying a licence or we're not -- which is it? Chris Bell Replies: Aardvark responded: "If, as you assert, buying a CD provides you with a 'licence to listen to that music' then why should a scratch on the disk invalidate that licence?" That's not an assertion, Bruce. That's pretty much what Michael Glading would tell you, any record company boss or music publisher worth their salt. You buy the carrier (the CD) and a limited licence to access the music on it. If the goods were faulty when you bought them, take them back to the retailer. If you scratched the CD yourself - or, worse, if your CD player scratched it - well, you're no more protected from your travails than you are if you scratch your car (or its free copy) or spill your free beer. "When I buy software on CD I get a licence to use that software and, if the disk gets damaged, most vendors will recognise that I have already bought such a licence and replace the disk for the cost of the media. Why won't the recording industry do this too -- then there'd be no need to burn CDR backups would there?" Personally, I've never found software vendors any more accommodating than record companies in this regard. Perhaps it depends how well connected you are. :-) Did people expect the privilege of replacement copies when the carriers were made from vinyl? What has changed about the the intellectual property itself? Only the technology relating to the carrier has evolved. Perhaps what makes music different from other forms of software is that composers and musicians formed bodies such as PRS, MCPS and APRA many decades ago to protect their interests in their work. There's no doubt most CDs are over-priced and that there are exploitative practices in the music industry. That sadly doesn't alter the fact that you don't own the music on a CD you purchase just because you bought the carrier. "It strikes me that they (the recording industry) are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Either we're buying a licence or we're not -- which is it?" The limited licence is tied to the carrier you purchase - it is not transferable, as one of the other posters here has implied. You might just as well argue that you bought concert tickets, saw a performer, heard a song and therefore "own" the copyright in it. Would you apply your "scratched CD" logic to a book you had bought and then spilt coffee on? What we're arguing about is cost. If, as you sensibly suggest, subsequent purchases should cover only the cost of the medium (the carrier), not the costs of licensing the rights in the work, I'd like to see the software program the stores would use to communicate the vagaries of this second purchase to APRA. From: Brian Harmer For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: Last bastion? Bruce, you wrote "and who said the Net was the last bastion of free expression?" well it would't have been me because I don't believe that the quaint mythology that the Net is some specially privileged jurisdiction. You went on to say: "However, things are not quite so simple in the world of the Internet. After all, if I were to include that link in this column, I would not actually be publishing the information in New Zealand would I?" I disagree. I believe things are exactly that simple. In its ordinary meaning, publish simply means "to make known". By linking to that site, you, Bruce Simpson, resident in the Kaipara region of New Zealand at the time of the "crime" would have made known something, contrary to New Zealand law, regardless of where the technology that facilitated such an awful act was located on the globe :-) From: Tom For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: Copyright and patent law Both Copyright and Patent law were drafted a long time ago, before widespread electronic transmission and storage of data, and before developments in the field of biotechnology. Both groups of laws are clearly inadequate and inappropriate for the modern environment and need overhauling from the ground up. Merely amending them will fix nothing. My personal opinion on Copyright is that you will no more stop people copying and reusing electronic material than you will stop people singing a song they heard on the radio. Should we all be stopped from reproducing someone elses music by singing it? I think the key is to draw the line at "for profit or personal gain". In practice downloading and listening to MP3s is little different to radio on demand. Record companies are going to have to find other models to generate revenue other than overcharging for hardcopy. The sooner legislation changes to reflect this the better. Legislating for and enforcing respect for intellectual property when you wish to use some or all of soemone elses creation to generate profit is a much more practical proposition. From: Dominic For : Right Of Reply (for publication) Subj: The system failed years ago I've been experimenting with FreeNet, a development pioneered by Ian Clarkson. I consider FreeNet to be a profound threat to Copyright laws. This is the page to read on why FreeNet came into being. I offer a forewarning to companies: FreeNet opposes some of the values of commerce. Although I am sure that at a personal level, investors / owners of companies here might subscribe to some of the culture of FreeNet, there is an interesting irony. http://freenetproject.org/cgi-bin/twiki/view/Main/Philosophy In his defence of his creation ("FreeNet"), Clarkson makes many statements, of which this is one: "Secondly, it could be questioned whether copyright is effective even now. The music industry is one of the most vocally opposed to enhancements in communication technology, yet according to many of the artists who should be rewarded by copyright, it is failing to do so. Rather it has allowed middle-men to gain control over the mechanisms of distribution, to the detriment of both artists and the public." I remember one of the philosophies of the Internet from the early 90's: control back in the hands of the citizen. I guess this is no longer a thinking phenomenon. It is now in action and so now being felt. From: Mike Dawson For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: Copyright or Copy – Right! Your article on copyright reminds me of a time when I first began studying web design and researched this, very important, issue. I was bemused by the fact that web designers usually include a copyright notice on all sites they develop, yet one of the first questions we’ll ask a client is if they can identify any sites that have style, content, etc., that they would like “incorporated” into their website. Naturally, a blatant rip-off is an infringement, but using other sites as “inspiration” is commonplace. With regard to CD copying, this is an ongoing issue and I agree that there are many grey areas. However, I believe that the Recording Industry Association is using this issue as a smokescreen in an effort to draw attention away from their outrageous prices. An excerpt from a letter I had published in NetGuide magazine: “I have no problem with musicians being fairly paid for their craft – they deserve it. Factor in manufacturing costs, agents, managers, PR and advertising, related music video costs, lawyers, accountants, record company fees, retailer markups, transportation costs, everyone’s taxes, (plus GST), and you can see where your hard-earned dollar is going. CD piracy exists because the consumer is forced to pay for all the middle-men”. It has also been pointed out that anyone owning a record album, audio cassette, or music CD, wishing to make a backup copy, has already paid for copyright with their initial purchase. Simplistic, perhaps, but a good point nonetheless.Hit Reload For Latest Comments
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