I've blogged about corporate greed before
. Slashdot points to an article
on arstechnica.com. It reports that Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG has a little unique view on copyright. In total denial of fair-use she states, that the CD licencing terms actually only allow to listen to the music from the CD. Transferring the music onto a PC or portable device would be " stealing
". I'm quite surprised, that a high profile litigation lawyer doesn't get her facts together. Using copyrighted material without an appropriate licence is a copyright violation. That would be first and foremost a civil claim. It only recently has been added to the penal code (recently in legal dimensions, which goes back a few thousand years). Theft is the physical removal of assets. If you steal something it is gone from where it was. If you copy a CD its content is still where it was. So this is completely different.
Secondly copyright is bound to the use of copyrighted material (I don't like the term intellectual property since that is also smoke and mirrors mixing copyright, trademarks and patents), and not necessarily to the physical form. When I buy a CD I buy the right to listen to the music for my personal pleasure. That is what I do on my mobile player. Of course I need to make sure, that this right to listen is executed only from one source at a time. Since a licence contract could state different usage patterns (e.g. a broader licence to use music for events) there are legal limits to how much you can tighten the rights.
Enter fair use
. Of course right owners would rather limit how you can exercise the right you paid for to make more money from you. However restrictive licensing terms stifle creativity and innovation. The whole DJ based music category, where DJ resampled and remixed music playing in clubs would have be killed before taking off applying today's copyright viewpoints of the music industry. Also there are strong indicators
in other businesses, that fair use is actually beneficial for a country at large.
So the music industry might start to ask themselves if eventually other factors than people buying music on CD and listening on an MP3 player contribute to their decline. Some hints: treating your customers as criminals, installing illegal software (rootkits anyone), a decline in talented musicians, tighter personal budgets, fierce competition on discretionary spending: if I have my 3 latte/week I won't buy that CD or it is the WII game vs. a new movie DVD etc.
Anyway a quote attributed to Ghandi says it all: "The world has enough for everybody's need but not enough for everybody's greed".
So Sony stays OFF the buying list (I know it is SonyBMG, but they run the same ignorance).