Sony don't believe in fair use, but it probably wont matter

Mikey 3 comments
  • Legal and Law
Sony don't believe in fair use, but it probably wont matter

Remember the term 'fair use'? Sony seems to have forgotten it, unless it's used to describe something they want to abolish.

In a current ongoing court case, the head of litigation for Sony BMG was called to the stand to testify. Jennifer Pariser regurgitated the same old line that all the music labels have been ever since Napster first made headlines, and that is file sharing is killing the music industry. Pariser said that thanks to piracy:

"it's my personal belief that Sony BMG is half the size now as it was in 2000... When people steal, when they take music without compensation, we are harmed"

Well Miss Pariser, in 2000 Sony wasn't competing against nearly as many competitors as they are now, including online adversaries. But hey let's not digress.

Pariser also went on to say something that would label people who still buy physical CD's as thieves. Her definition of a music thief includes people who make copies of legitimate CD's they have purchased to use elsewhere, say a car or MP3 player, and people who download songs via P2P that they already own.

What Sony is effectively saying is that when you buy a song from them, you are actually just buying a licence to listen to it on that medium. You are not allowed to transfer it elsewhere unless you pay for it again.

If I may interject with my $0.02 at this point, Pariser's comments are absolute BS. It doesn't matter if people make copies of or download CD's they already own, because current technology is already doing away with Sony's dated line of thinking. If Sony want to label us thieves for ripping CD's we own onto a portable music player, then the solution is simple: don't buy your music on CD in the first place.

With my mobile phone, I can listen to music I have purchased online in MP3 format on the bus ride into work, through the speakers in my car, and listen on any device that's capable of accepting a 3.5mm jack stereo source - which is pretty much every music device on the planet built in the last 20 years. I don't have to transfer the music - it remains on my phone.

When everyone else starts doing this, and believe me they already are, what will Pariser's comments matter? You can bet your iPod Sony will want us to buy our music again for the bus ride, for the car and for outputting to a home hi-fi. But let's not give them any ideas.

So they expect me to purchase Alice in Chains again for my car but truth be told there is really no reason for that when I don't have to duplicate my music in the first place. Always buy your music digital.

To reiterate, according to Sony when someone buys a physical CD, they are really just buying the the physical packaging and a licence to listen to the music that is on the medium. So technically, if you already own a licence to listen to that CD and for some reason that CD becomes damaged, Sony should replace it free of charge, sans the cost of the CD medium, which would be around 10 cents going by today's blank CD costs. Or I should be able to download it from their web site as long as I can prove I have a licence, at no charge.

Don't laugh. This is exactly how software licensing works. Let's say you buy a software package. You are really just buying a licence to use the software. If your computer is destroyed, formatted or stolen, you don't have to buy the software again. All you need is proof of your licence, and you can download it a gazillion times from their web site, and then copy it to your laptop and burn a backup to a CD.

Software manufacturers don't give a toss how you acquire their software, be it you purchase it in a box from a department store, you download it from their web site, or your mate burns you a copy to a CD. And they certainly don't care where you copy it to. Having purchased a licence for the eventual single device you choose to use it on is all they have concern for, not the packaging or the medium.

But if I wanted to install the program on my Mum's computer, then there would be a legitimate need for her to acquire her own licence of course.

If one day I decide to sell my desktop PC and buy a laptop, I still don't have to buy all my software again just because it's a different device.

Sony knows this and they are no strangers to the software game. So how can they not know their arguments for acquiring a new licence for every device you want your music on are obsolete before any of it has even been put into practice?

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Thursday 4th October 2007 | 10:44 AM

I can see your point but Sony surely aren't that dumb. And the idea of storing all your music on a single device isn't as wide spread as you might think. For starters when you download music from an online store it goes directly onto your PC first, and then you transfer it to your mp3 player. But Sonys idea that this is somehow ripping them off is ludicrous.

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Thursday 4th October 2007 | 10:47 AM

Even most DRM protected content is more flexible than what this woman said because it at least allows you to move your media between a few devices. Sony are on crack.

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Wednesday 10th October 2007 | 01:24 PM

Given that there is no way that technology will ever regress and that CDs are now widely accepted as obsilete technology (much the same as records were when 8tracs came in, then cassettes).

If Sony wishes to make the same profits they were capable of 7-10 years ago when CD sales were huge, they need to look at what they pay their staff and the artists they represent.

Alternatively, if they want to gain the competetive edge, they need to invest in developing new music technology, patent it and ride the waves, much like apple did with iPod, then iTunes etc.

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