Who owns your digital music downloads?

Here is an additional argument to what I posted the other day regarding the ownership of online books. It looks like something is in the air – as this blog focuses on music.

Steve Jobs once said, “People want to own their music.”

Someone better tell the folks who run the iTunes Store and its competitors. If you buy a digital music track or album from the iTunes store or one of its competitors, you don’t own it. Instead, you’re buying a license to play that track or album, and that license comes with an extremely limited set of rights.

Why does it matter? If you buy a CD in the United States, Section 109 of the Copyright Act gives you very specific rights under the first-sale doctrine. Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains those rights:

[O]nce you’ve acquired a lawfully-made CD or book or DVD, you can lend, sell, or give it away without having to get permission from the copyright owner. In simpler terms, “you bought it, you own it” (and because first sale also applies to gifts, “they gave it to you, you own it” is also true).

But the first-sale doctrine only applies to tangible goods, such as CDs. Digital music downloads (just like movies and TV shows and books) come with a completely different, much more limited set of rights. If you buy a digital album from an online service such as the iTunes store, Amazon MP3, or eMusic, you have no legal right to lend that album to a friend, as you could if you had purchased a CD. If you decide after a few listens that you hate the album, well, tough. You can’t resell it. You can’t even legally give it away.

For the rest of the article, click on the link below.

 

Who owns your digital downloads? Hint: it’s not you | ZDNet.

About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
This entry was posted in Music Industry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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