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ARSCLIST  February 2007

ARSCLIST February 2007

Subject:

interesting!

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 7 Feb 2007 06:34:08 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (36 lines)

http://tinyurl.com/yssok3

I'm not sure that it's only DRM that stymie iTunes sales, but it's possible. For me, 99 cents is too 
much to pay (in fact, 1 cent is too much to pay) for less than CD quality. If they had the songs 
available in Apple Lossless Format or something similar, even with a DRM wrapper on the file, I'd be 
much more inclined to buy some of the out-of-print jazz and classical stuff for sale only at iTunes. 
But, I'm not sure an appreciation for sound quality is what's driving the masses away from DRM.

This whole issue is a sticky wicket. Back when the Fair-Use rules were written, if you had a record 
(or pre-recorded cassette) and you wanted to share with a friend, you had to go to the trouble of 
making a tape for them, in real time, which often sounded inferior to the source. Sure, all of us 
did it, but we also paid a fair-use tax in the price of blank tape. So Big Music (which was less big 
back then and some of the companies were still run by music people as opposed to lawyers and 
accountants) didn't really get crimped -- and also, of course, they were putting out more product 
with a mainstream appeal and radio was somewhat functional as a marketing tool. My point is, back 
when the rules on fair use of copyright material were written, it was harder to mass-share something 
you had paid for. Nowadays, you can burn a copy for a friend, who can rip to MP3 and send copies to 
his 1000 closest friends in less than a snow day home from school. So, even though I'm no fan of Big 
Music, they have a point in all of this. If the owners of the copyright material -- descendants of 
those who put up money to record the old stuff and current funders of new material -- cannot get a 
return on their investment, they do not have a business model. So in that case nothing can be made 
available because it's a money-losing proposition and companies are not in business to lose money.

So some new middle ground has to emerge, and I'm not sure what it is.  I would argue that selling 
higher-quality digital downloads at iTunes might generate less resentment about the DRM, but like I 
said I might be a small niche who cares about sound quality. One mechanism might be that an owner of 
an iTunes song could "share" it with 10 friends, each of whom would have to be registered with 
iTunes. The "shared" song they receive via some e-mail or iTunes store/e-mail mechanism would be 
unlocked for XX plays thru their iTunes account. After XX plays, they would have to buy the song. 
Even that gets my resentment for paying for something twice going, but like I said, it's long past 
the days where you had to spin a record in real time and record it to a cassette that you paid a 
fair-use tax on. So in a sense, it's going back to how it was as far as net consumer cost and 
hassle.

-- Tom Fine

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