I wouldn’t steal

Another sane message about copyright – this time from the European Free Alliance in the European Parliament (the Greens): I wouldn’t steal.

This site touches on two points that have irritated me for a very long time in the whole copyright debate: copying is not stealing, and if the media industry would simply start selling quality goods – i.e. unencumbered, no DRM – at a fair price, people would most certainly buy them.

The big music labels seem to have finally understood the latter point – they are slowly starting to offer their music in DRM-free formats. The big movie studios are still a ways from that point. But neither the big music labels nor the big studios have understood the difference between stealing and copying. In simple terms: stealing implies that you derive someone of a good, by taking it away from them. Making a copy of a digital file by its very nature leaves the original intact – ergo, the original owner is not derived of anything. Equating copying with stealing is nonsense.

The counterargument is that by copying a digital file, the citizen is somehow ‘stealing’ revenue from the big content publishers. All I can say is – wake up and smell the coffee. Perfect digital copies are a fact of life, and they are here to stay. It’s been almost 10 years since napster – big content has had a very, very long time to adjust their business models to that fact, and for the most part have simply refused.

So what can ordinary citizens do? Buy music from independent labels that understand todays digital reality: see Audiolunchbox, Cdbaby or Emusic.

Support the artists – go to concerts, buy merchandise. If you want music that’s published on a big label, buy second hand CDs or buy DRM-free songs, for instance at Amazon.

If content publishers don’t want to adapt, they will go out of business.

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