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Donna Wentworth
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Ernest Miller
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Elizabeth Rader
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Jason Schultz
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Wendy Seltzer
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Alan Wexelblat
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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July 5, 2004

A Tale of Two Tethers

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Posted by Jason Schultz

The New York Times had an article the other day about the quality of digital music and whether most people will ever notice the difference (From a High-Tech System, Low-Fi Music). Not directly IP related, but buried below the fold was an interesting discussion of the shift from owning music to renting music and the trade-off between that and committing to a medium:

Richard Wolpert, chief strategy officer of RealNetworks Inc., the parent of RealRhapsody, takes aim at Apple when he muses that customers will be unhappy when they decide that they want to own music encoded at 320, not at 128. Far better, he argued, to abandon the notion of "owning" songs, because the concept condemns users to endless purchases. "How many times do you want to own your music?" he asked. "I own my music as eight-tracks, I own my music as albums, I own my music as cassettes, I own my music as CD's."

With a subscription service like RealRhapsody, one saves personal tastes in the form of playlists that replace actual music collections, providing access to favorites no matter what storage format comes out "in the next 5 or 10 or 20 years," Mr. Wolpert said.

Buying the same music over and over is painful, but the same argument turns against subscription services: Who wants to lease instead of own music through endless monthly payments? Even if owning digital music confers restricted rights, it still meets the biological imperative to collect music.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


COMMENTS

1. Ernest Miller on July 5, 2004 12:39 PM writes...

At some point, which we may have already reached, the encoding is going to be high enough that further advances in fidelity are pointless. Even today, the biggest fidelity problem for lossless codecs is not the codec, but the equipment used to play it back.

Permalink to Comment

2. Branko Collin on July 5, 2004 4:32 PM writes...

The link to the article is broken. Instead of the article, it leads to a registration page. Please do not include broken links in your entries.

Anyway, I stopped reading at "The bit rate for iTunes, 128, is so low that when played side by side against the original, the difference is audible not only to audio enthusiasts, but also to mortals with ordinary hearing." A reporter who dares to write such nonsense is not going to get better when writing about copyrights.

Permalink to Comment

3. Firas on July 5, 2004 4:46 PM writes...

With subscription services, the whole DRM argument is moot, isn't it? I mean, you still can't extract portion of the songs/texts/other media--a serious concern--but the whole "it's only viewable on x or y environment" thing is irrelevant, since you're not really buying the pieces.

Permalink to Comment

4. Aine on July 11, 2004 2:52 AM writes...

I agree with Wolpert. I've "owned" my music four times already with each format change. Do they think I save receipts for 40 years? Quite frankly, I don't understand why the burden of proof is on me instead of on the RIAA. Prove I don't own this music collection, don't assume I've stolen it. And when you find out I've paid for it four times, maybe I should be entitled to quadruple my collection with new music at NO COST.

Heh. Vultures.

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