While watching television last night I was treated to a commercial which announced a recently released movie was coming to DVD. The commercial tag ended with, ‘Own it now!’ When I visit Apple’s iTunes Store there are buttons next to songs which list the price next to a big ‘Buy’ button. Click the movies tab and you’re treated to movies with an option to Buy and to Rent.
Big deal, right? That’s the way it works. Here’s the problem. In the digital age, someone has changed the definition of buy and purchase, when what is really meant is rent, or lease. The purchase is highly conditional.
There isn’t much to stop me from downloading DRM-free music from the iTunes Store and then selling it to you. If I buy a book at Barnes and Noble and read it, I can resell it, right? Not so with digital products.
Paul Ford in Bloomberg Businessweek has the details on a recent court case about ReDigi, an online service which allows you to sell media files and skirts around the digital copy issue.
Based on a recent ruling by a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan, you don’t have the rights of ownership you thought you had.
In today’s online world there’s not really any such thing as used music. Songs today are digital copies, easily copied, easily distributed to who knows where. An MP3 song you don’t want any longer isn’t the same as a used vinyl record, or even a used CD. In the digital realm, used doesn’t mean what you think it does, and neither does own.
Add to that ambiguity the trend for major players to push and shove and pull us to place our newly purchased media online; stored in the cloud, available for download anytime, anywhere– for a monthly fee. With Spotify and Rdio, and perhaps Apple’s future iRadio, we’ll be encouraged not to buy and own, but to subscribe. How is that different than being mugged by the cable television company every month? We can watch what we want, sometimes when we want, occasionally where we want, but we don’t own anything. The monthly fee goes to access.
In the near future we may not even own media– TV shows, music, movies– we’ll just pay each month to access what we like. Just like cable TV.