Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Physical media

I own 46 CDs. I have reviewed 43 additional albums. I own 0 songs - none from iTunes, none from Yahoo!, none from MSN. That's zero, zip. I may have grown up with the Internet, but I will not give up CDs for files on an operating system. No way, no how. Physical discs have too much value for me to abandon them in the name of technological advancement.

And in an age when I can pick and choose which songs I want to buy, there's just one problem: I wouldn't actually own the songs I would buy. For some reason, I would only have a license to those songs - like I need permission to listen to the music I buy! Who calls me villain? Ha!

I will never buy music with embedded digital rights management (DRM). It's never gonna happen. Not any time in the next century. The music stores would have to give me a damned good reason to do that, and I just can't see it happening. There's one huge problem with DRM: It removes incentive, instead of creating it. In the next few minutes, I could begin downloading music from dozens of sources: Some legal, some infringing copyright in the process, but all quickly available. And when I can download unrestricted music at no monetary cost, there is no good reason to pay for an item of lesser value. I ask: What value does DRM add? Presently, none. DRM allows me no incentive to purchase the files it locks down - DRM says I don't own what I buy; I am buying a license, a permit that can be revoked or denied to me at any motion.

Other consumers will purchase DRM-laden music for one of several reasons: They are not concerned about the limitations; they are not aware of the limitations; it's cheap; they cannot choose an alternative. Any of these reasons are possible. I may be an audiophile, but I am not gullible: I will not degauss my CDs, I will not pay $500 for a wooden volume knob, and I will not pay for a license when I could find music of better resolution for free. I am perfectly aware of programs that will strip the DRM from iTunes files or licensed WMA files, but I still cannot do it - I would be upholding the very statutes I have thoroughly come to loathe.

But of the MP3 stores? Audio Lunchbox or eMusic? Jamendo? I have not used their services, either. I'm just not interested in those stores. I don't support them, because I have no incentive to; I am not out to spite DRM. I simply will not purchase it.

My CDs have the most value to me. They take up space; they are real. They are not a bunch of files in a box. They are discs, with packaging and additional material. I need no license for them. I don't care if the entire world stops buying CDs; any music I purchase will be on a CD.

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