Tuesday, March 14, 2006

online music, its price & DRM

Isn't the problem of music download rather in the old business model of the recording industry?

Their model was built on charging for the media, i.e. the carrier of the (copyright protected) song/music. If you bought the same song a second time (e.g. on a sampler LP, or you broke the record and had to buy it again), did they step up to you and said, “No wait, you already paid for that; we'll just take some cent for the vinyl this time”?

Well, they didn't come knocking on my door.

Quite the contrary, by changing from vinyl to CDs, they built an entire industry around charging a second time for the very same content.

Again: The whole business model was built around charging for the physical carrier.

But know, since they lost control over the distribution channel, it's suddenly all about the (protected) rights of the artist and their royalties. (... and they do have a right to receive royalties).
In Austria and Germany (and probably some other countries as well), there was (and still is) a surcharge on each and every blank (!) MC, CD, DVD, ... just because you might copy something on it, that is royalty afflicted. Doesn't that actually imply that I can freely download (or copy) from whatever source, because I already paid some royalty? Or can I then get a refund for the surcharge on the blank CD...

Was there any limitation on a vinyl that kept me from playing “my” (in a DRM sense) record on my friends record player? No.
The only limitation was that I didn't give away my records, I couldn't “share” them. I could only lend them to a friend, and I wanted to get them back – preferably without a scratch.
And, because everything was analog, a copy had less quality than the original.

And this model of sharing formed the base for the average price of a song or LP.
Meaning: the recording industry and the artists knew that some people gave away their LPs, and their friends copied them to MCs... This limited sharing/copying was already calculated into the price of every LP/CD/...

Divide the price of a LP/CD - about 15 US$ for a new release - by the number of tracks it features, say 12.
What do you get (apart from 1.25$) ? The price per track/song.

To me, this is the price per song including the rights to give a copy to friends and/or play it on their player. Because the model is still the same as in the days of vinyl, where it was OK to do so.

So, for a “this-is-the-song-you-may-only-play-it-on-your-MP3/CD-player-and-not-give-it-away-to-friends”-copy of a song, you should pay less, because you are limited in how you use it.

The difference between the average street price per song on a CD (as given above) and the personal-use-only-price has to be the value of sharing that song.

Either that value is small, then what's the industry complaining about?
Or the value is large, then personal-use-no-copy-option-included tracks have to become cheaper... substantially cheaper.

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