Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Ripping" Vs. "Sharing"

The debate about strict copyright laws, digital downloading, and the illegal "sharing" of music has gone on for some time. You shouldn't be able to make a back-up copy of a CD, say some, because that's copyright infringement. You shouldn't be able to download music from a legal Website and then burn it to more than one disc because, again, that's copyright infringement. Apparently digital downloading has caused this horror in the music industry. Yet today, I witnessed something that had me scratching my head. After lunch with a couple of colleagues, they wanted to pop into HMV to grab some "new" music for their iPods. Sick of the same old, same old, they decided to swap: you buy a few CDs you like, I'll buy some I like, and then we'll trade. Hmm...makes sense, right?

To the pro-copyright camp, they just violated the very sanctity of music. How dare you buy CDs and trade music like that? Essentially, that means you got every CD half-price, right? But from the pro-digital, evolution of music standpoint, what they've done is just opened each other's eyes to new music they may never have bothered to buy, in physical format or otherwise. Now not only is there a greater appreciation for different types of music, but there's also the increased chance that they'll like what they hear, and add a new artist to their radar for future purchases. What a concept!

On that note, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were new CDs available for as little as $12.99, and even $10! The last time I recall, new releases were, at best, $13.99 or $15.99. There were even some pretty good CDs selling "two for $12" or $25. Not bad. Still, I hesitated to buy anything, thinking that I'd just download the specific tunes I want and make a "mixed" CD (only one, of course. God forbid I make one for a friend as well). But at the prices they're at, it's almost worth it to buy the media (especially for the potentially better quality) and save myself the time.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but maybe CDs will return to profitability as people decide that they can't be bothered, or don't have the time, to compile a list of tunes, download them, and burn them to a CD as normal practice. If it isn't a hobby, it can certainly get time-consuming. And iPod owners know how expensive it can also get buying tune after tune, not realizing how much they add up until you get the dreaded credit card bill!

I could be way off base here, but it's food for thought, nonetheless.

On another note, Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers in the U.S. We wish you all the best on this wonderful holiday. Eat, play, and be merry!

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Veronica said...

Well, that IS indeed a good debate. I believe stealing from any company is wrong. Normally, if I have a curious friend... I will allow them to listen to my music at MY home. I have a CD/DVD burner however, I have never burned a single disc in my life. I don't plan on starting now either. It is a copyright violation and many distribution companies can sue you for punitive damages. However, looking for a disc can be annoying. I do download LEGALLY! I just don't give away my downloads. Makes me bizzare or faithful? The future is downloads. Blu-Ray couldn't come in at a worst of a time. Bad economy, expensive merchandise, and let us not forget... The legendary iPod! With great respect, the iPod is successful. Everyone has it and are downloading tunes into their devices. Ofcourse, I'm a ZUNE girl.

Anonymous said...

The music industry has been stealing from us and the artists they claim to represent for years. They are attempting to protect their (now obsolete) interests in a changing music industry. I am a musician and I value the artist's work. There does need to be a better way to make sure artists are paid for their work but keeping the status quo with the record labels is not the ideal. The lables have had undue control on what is played and how it is packaged. Current technologies allow more freedom for the artist and more ways to get the music to the people. Music is meant to be shared and enjoyed with others. If not for cassette tapes from friends there are dozens of artists I would not have heard of given the distribution methods of record labels. In most cases I have purchased extensive collections of these bands (sometimes twice; LP and CD). Perhaps the record labels should stop whining about their percieved loses and make a product that people value. Interesting packaging, interesting liner notes, videos and bonus offers would all entice purchase rather than download. Perhaps a good start would be have CDs tagged so our players display song titles etc like MP3 songs do!

fung0 said...

This post brings up several important issues.

1. "Sharing" is not new, nor is it dependent on digital technology. ALL the music I've bought over the years has been as a result of what others shared with me on tape. Everyone else I speak with acknowledges this same reality.

2. CD prices are NOT fair, nor are they decreasing. New CDs have been stuck at the $12-$16 price point for years, despite the dramatic reduction in costs brought by digital technology. (And despite appallingly low payments to artists - typically in the range of $0.25 per album.)

Once you get past the mainstream new releases at the front of the store, prices become absolutely outrageous. Most of the music I enjoy tends to be priced in excess of $20 per album at retail. In fact, I've seen single-disc albums as high as $50. Yes, some of these are lower-volume imports. But they're also still just pieces of plastic in a box.

While we'd all like to see a revitalized music industry, it's become apparent that the current establishment will never be able to 'get there from here.' Instead, they'll have to be put out of business by new entrants that are willing to take advantage of new technologies and new business models - and are able to surmount the legal and marketing obstacles that the entrenched oligopoly continues to put in their path.