How music and movie licensing should work

Mikey 9 comments
How music and movie licensing should work

Can you see any problem with buying a DVD movie, and taking it around to a friends house to watch it? Me neither. But certain organisations consider that illegal. What about music? Again certain organisations reckon that if I buy a CD and let a friend listen to it, that is also very naughty and grounds for legal action.

What is their argument? I will explain it to you, and then I will explain why it's complete BS and why they aren't playing the game fairly.

You see, the problem the RIAA and other organisations have with this practice is licensing. When you buy a movie or music, you are really just buying a licence. You don't actually own the move or music. Note the operative word here is 'you'. Not your friends or grandma.

This can be compared to how software licenses work. You buy a piece of software and you are really buying a licence to use that software. Handing your licence information out to your friends is called 'piracy'. And that's fair enough.

But that's where the similarities end. Because if my computer died, or I lost my software somehow, software developers wont charge me to get another copy. All I need is to prove I have a licence, which is usually just the information you used to register the product, and download it again. Software companies understand this, and they really don't care how you acquire their products as long as you have proof you purchased a licence. Some will even mail you a copy for nothing more that the cost of a blank CD and postage when you can prove you already purchased it.

Licensing works like this in many industries. If my wallet was lost or stolen, I can get my drivers licence sent to me from the Transport authority without having to pay for it again.

So why can't this be applied to the music and movies we buy? If I buy the new QOTSA album, they say only I can listen to it. But what if my disc got scratched? Or if I lost it? Will they replace it for me for nothing more than the cost of a blank disc? Absolutely not. That would be too helpful to the customer - you know - the people who are supporting the artists.

And precisely because they won't replace my disc, I reckon they don't have the right to claim that I've only purchased a licence for it. So therefore I should be able to do whatever I damned well want with it. Play it in my car, let my friends listen to it, anything short of distributing copies.

I would gladly pay for the cost of each blank DVD to have every Wiggles, Hi-5, Winnie the Pooh etc... disc replaced that my daughters have rendered unusable. I have proof of purchase, so why not replace them? Hell I will even pay an admin fee for the time it takes for the store clerk to go and fish out my replacements. But to ask me to pay $600 to replace all those dead DVD's that I already bought is extortion.

And here's another thing to consider. People wont buy the same products twice, but might gladly pay for replacements (at the cost of the blank media and perhaps a small admin fee). So they can either get $0 from us, or they can get a few dollars from us. I'm no business expert but I think the latter makes more business sense.

I think one main problem with this ideal solution is that if they start treating the things we buy in this manner, they would have a legal obligation to 'upgrade' me. For example, I already purchased 2001: A Space Odyssey on DVD, but when it comes time and I want it on Blueray, will they just let me pay for the Blueray media only? Stop and think about that for a second. Is it really that ludicrous? I already paid for the movie, why should I pay for it again just because it's stored on a different medium? I understand the quality of the movie will be higher, but it's the same movie.

Again just like software, regardless of if I request my replacement software to be sent to me on a CD or a DVD, they will only be charging me for the media, not the product again.

When you stop and think about it, it's very hypocritical to claim the consumer only has a licence to music or a movie they paid for, but at the same time not treat it with the same benefits afforded by other products and services that are licensed.

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The Movie Whore

Tuesday 16th September 2008 | 11:22 AM

100% Dead on. Nicely done.

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Tuesday 16th September 2008 | 11:41 AM

I'd never thought of it like that but you say it in a way that makes sense. Thanks for the enlightenment.

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Tuesday 16th September 2008 | 11:46 AM

You'll find the problem isn't that the industry doesn't already know how others licence stuff and it's more a case of that they just want to shaft the consumer as many times as they can.

What you are proposing makes sense but it will also mean a significant revenue drop for the music companies. Hands up how many people have bought Star Wars more than once? I have the trilogy on VHS, DVD and I'll buy it again on Blueray when I get a player. It would be pretty swet if I only had to pay for the media it was on.

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Tuesday 16th September 2008 | 03:27 PM

no argument here.

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Michael N

Wednesday 17th September 2008 | 05:47 AM

Or just that "licensing" a product is bullshit in the first place. If I buy something, it is my property and I can do whatever I want to with it. You don't "own the movie" of course, the creators do (although "Intellectual Property" is a whole other argument), but you own this copy.

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Wednesday 17th September 2008 | 11:57 AM

good call mikey.. the amount of times that things happen to cd's, dvd's, vhs (when we were still using) is pretty amazing. ive replaced many cd's due to faults. and the revenue gets pumped back into the industry
its pretty piss poor really.

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Wednesday 17th September 2008 | 04:12 PM

I'm waiting for the day when someone with a shedfull of cash takes these insidious organisations on.

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Thursday 18th September 2008 | 02:20 PM

I am not trying to be a prick, but in Australia do you guys spell organizations with an "s" where the "z" should be?

I mean even on this page there are 4 references to it. Just curious.

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Thursday 18th September 2008 | 02:31 PM

Here in Australia we spell it with an 's' and as I am from (and reside in) the land down under that' show I spell it. Same as in the UK. That said, this site is authored by people from all over the world, so had it been written by one of our USA guys, they would have spelled it with a 'z'.

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