Even more thoughts on "Thoughts on Music"

There’s one more thing I want to set straight. I hope you’ll pay attention because this is an important concept. When you buy a record or a CD or a digital download, you are not buying that music. You don’t own Abbey Road just because you bought a copy of that recording in some format. All you’ve bought is a physical device that plays that music until the container wears out or breaks. Some of the DRM rhetoric is akin to people buying a vinyl record, playing it for a while, and then when it wears out, going back to the record label and saying, “Hey, I already own this music, so gimme another record to replace this one that wore out. Why should I have to buy it twice?”

Either that or it’s akin to people saying, “I already bought this record on vinyl and it will only play on my turntable and not on my CD player. I mean I’ve tried putting it in the CD player and it’s not even the right size! How can you sell me a piece of music that locks me in to one kind of player? And forget about putting it on my Zune! I tried that too and there’s not even a slot where you can load the vinyl record in.”

Get this straight because it’s an important point. You’re not getting a perpetual license for any and all playback mechanisms when you buy a record or a CD or when you download a song. You never were. Records didn’t play in cassette players didn’t play in 8-track players didn’t play in CD players. Okay? And another thing: Music is cheap. You can buy a copy of Abbey Road for $9.99 on Amazon. How do you argue that this is not an amazing bargain?

Yes it would be nice if you could buy a song on iTunes and have it play anywhere. But you don’t have any constitutional right to this. Look it up. I did. There’s nothing in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence about digital downloads being transferable from one machine to another. There’s no law against making iTunes songs play only on an iPod. You can go all the way back to ancient Rome, to the Magnum Carta, and you’ll see — nothing there either.