Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Have you gone out and rebought all your Beatles collection on iTunes yet?

I didn't think so. (-:

There is already a lot of Beatles material in mp3 form. Some of the mp3s are legal, and tons are illegal.

We make the illegal MP3s less valuable. Paul, Ringo and Yoko should thank us. Apple (the computer company!) should thank us.

But if you buy a Beatles download today, will you be able to sell it, lend it to a friend or leave it to your heirs? You should be able to do it. But just try it! If you are not a member of the Digital Content Exchange, you can't do it. There is no mechanism to do it. If you are not a member of the Exchange you are wiser to buy the physical CD or vinyl, and ripping that, than going to the iTunes store, because then you can have full ownership rights. (Membership in the Exchange is free, by the way).

You can already see why the failure to secure ownership rights in cyberspace encourages piracy. If my choice is between one digital download that I can't sell, lend or bequeath which costs $1.29, and one digital download that I can't sell, lend or bequeath which is free, which one am I tempted to choose?

The Solution, then, is for those who want to exercise full ownership rights over their lawfully bought music, in cyberspace, to register those purchases with the Exchange. You register your music with the Exchange by letting the Exchange a) verify what you own, and b) immobilize it so that only one person at a time can use it (no "file sharing").

Among the legal Beatle mp3s, some originated as rips from vinyl and some originated from rips of CDs. Now legal downloads join the mix. Welcome to them! All three types of legal mp3s can be verified and immobilized through the DCE.  No illegal mp3s need apply!

*p.s. In law, leaving something to your heirs is called "bequeathing", whether it's by a Will or simply by your children taking possession of that record collection in the living room after you pass on.

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