back to article What's copying your music really worth to you?

How much would your iPhone be worth to you if the only music it could play had been bought on the device itself, from Apple? If your answer is "a lot less" or "not very much", then you're not alone. New empirical research has attempted to measure how much we value the ability to copy our music across formats and devices – and it …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    blah blah blah

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

      The only reason people are buying CDs is so they can "infringe" and put them on their digital music player? Who actually uses these in CD players any longer?

      How many sales would CDs rack up at their current prices if it wasn't for digital music players?

      CDs are obviously over valued without being able to format shift. CDs would be a completely dead format without that. Halve the price of a CD and then maybe we can talk about format shifting royalties. Their so called infringing use is the only use now. They're just like the Internet, a means to deliver bits to your digital audio player.

      Of course, the study authors again make the false assumption that they'd be worth the same as they're charging currently without the ability to format shift. Just another blind and ignorant justification for trying to get more money.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

        A lot of us still use the CDs as their primary source rather than delivery method.

        You see not everyone has headphones stuck on all the time.

        1. The Original Ash

          Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

          Ok, so I don't have a portable music player, and the music on my phone hasn't been listened to for months. In that respect, I agree with you.

          However, every CD I own is ripped to my external hard drive and indexed in Foobar. I can swap from Dr Dre's Chronic 2001 to AC/DC's Who Made Who to Kraftwerk's Die mensch Maschine with two clicks of the mouse. If I didn't, I'd be hunting through shelves of jewel cases for barely-remember spines of barely-remembered album art, risking permanent damage to the disc with each swap. I'd put at least a couple of minutes into finding the case for the existing CD, ejecting, putting in the case, putting back on the shelf (maybe in order to make searching easier, probably not), finding the next case, inserting the disc, waiting for it to spin up... That's music enjoyment time lost.

          In an age when your car, kitchen stereo, TV are all able to index and play media from a digital music player, why would you carry CDs?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

          Sorry, you've got the wrong format then. You should be listening to vinyl.

          I must be doing it wrong because I've been listening to digital music without headphones at home, in the car and at work. This technology stuff is crazy I tell ya!

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

            I use vinyl as well but my turntable has failed.

            Also I have no issues using a CD changer in the car, nor putting a CD SACD DVD-A on at home.

            I am not listening to music all the time - only occasionally

        3. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

          I rip all my CDs to my computer and listen to them through the speakers attached to it. I could insert the CD into the drive and listen to it directly, but it is much easier to click on a file than find the CD I want to listen to.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

        I've not used a CD player for playing discs since 1995!

        Ripped onto PC and played from the PC!

        PC connected to the telly and the "Stereo" which is now just an amp/equalizer.

        I though the whole world did the same thing?!?! No! Then where have you been for the past 17 years??

        As for format shifting being illegal, fuck 'em! I paid my dues to listen the that music, and I will do so, in any format I wish (CD into a player or ripped onto PC/Digital format).

        My advice to the industry is keep up or DIE! Ultraviolet should have been introduced a decade ago! They have themselves to blame.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

          I don't listen to compressed music at all. Digital compression creates non-harmonic distortion: frequencies in the output that are non-integer multiples of the input frequency, that have no musical relationship whatsoever to the source. For anyone with a liking for tonal music and a decent ear, this is fairly close to torture.

          It's nothing to do with headphones. Even a cheap pair of 'phones is quite a high-fidelity reproduction device, and if they distort at all, it's harmonic distortion unless you have the volume up dangerously high. As for vinyl vs CDs, one can prove by measurement that the vinyl introduces the greater distortion. However, it's pleasant-sounding low-harmonic distortion, so it's understandable if some folks actually prefer it ito a CD.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

            "For anyone with a liking for tonal music and a decent ear, this is fairly close to torture."

            What utter bollox mate! Tell you what, next time I have guests I shall ask them. Don't think it's going to be close to torture, at all. Yes, quality isn't as good but the loss is acceptable and most people wouldn't know the difference. Get Real!

            Yes some people prefer CD, I prefer CD quality, but they are too inconvenient and antiquated.

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

              Speak for yourself, and read what I said. I have nothing against uncompressed or losslessly-compressed bitstreams on whatever media, and these days you can put tens of uncompressed CDs on a cheap memory stick. But if you can enjoy the sound of a C-major chord polluted with random C-sharps and E-flats and other tones that are not even a part of the twelve-note chromatic scale, then you do not have an ear for tonal music.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

                Me thinks you are being downvoted for sounding like a toff

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

              Give it up mate, audiophools are audiophools, they get off on outrage and looking down at people who don't believe they can hear the sound of a gnat farting in the background of a recording (but only if played through cables that cost more than a small family hatchback car)

              They appear every time a new format comes out to rubbish it and tell us we're stupid neanderthals with no taste for listening to music on it.

              1. Stratman

                Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

                Re AC and audiophools.

                Spot on. I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who just tolerate the music in order to listen to their equipment.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

            I'm wondering if we can do a double blind test on audiophile listening experience with digital music. I'll listen to my iPod whilst dipping audiophiles in liquid nitrogen to see if their bleating about how digital is horrible changes tonality.

          3. Jean-Luc
            Thumb Down

            Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

            >It's nothing to do with headphones. Even a cheap pair of 'phones is quite a high-fidelity reproduction device

            Hah. Way to show that you don't know what you are talking about. Unless "cheap" means $200+ of course, to go with a "budget" $2000 amp.

            I've always preferred splurging on the music itself, rather than droning about equipment. Or sampling/compression artefacts ( Basically I don't pretend my ears are special.

            But get Sennheiser 555s or equiv ($250 reg, $75 sale when I got mine). Way, way better. I even use them for my work phone conferences now, much better at picking out people far from microphones.

            No way cheap (< 80-100$ list) headphones are remotely comparable - I picked up lotsa nuances in songs I had never heard. Don't get me started on Apple-issue whites either. Headphones are the first kit to consider upgrading.

          4. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

            You can rip CDs to a lossless format, so that isn't a problem.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Obviously

            Actually it's that fuck em attitude by the masses that makes it all possible. That's why no one you know got nabbed. Too many people said fuck em and made copies like you have.

            I by the way never paid for a format. When I buy music I believe I am buying the right to play it for my enjoyment. I'm not interested in the shiny cd, only the bits on it. That's why I too would as a juvenile also say fuck you and I too refuse to carry bales of hay in the back of my car. I have thought to hit my wife with a stick no thicker than my thumb on occasion though.

            1. chr0m4t1c


              >I by the way never paid for a format. When I buy music I believe I am buying the right to play it for my enjoyment.

              That might be the key to why no-one is prosecuting punters; last time I checked a CD the license stated that you were being sold a right to play the music (but not in public) and that there was a warranty covering the media - so they would replace a faulty CD for example.

              So, while you are breaking copyright law by format shifting without permission it could be argued in court that the license allows format shifting. At best it would be a grey area which would need to be tested for every set of wording used on CD packaging.

              Mustard mitt I haven't checked one recently, so the wording may have been tightened up by now, but that just makes things worse, somebody buying an album now might have a different license to that of someone who bought the album 10-15 years ago; it's almost impossible to police.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Obviously

            See, one person can be wrong!!!!"""???? (That’s my adolescent mind at it again!!)

            W O W, the stupidity is off the scale!

            I think the world is full of AC's making HUGE assumptions which are completely wrong.

            Grow up, indeed!

            How are "people like me" holding back change?

            Then to preach about my format shifting not being legal when you are doing the same thing. PLEASE. Learn.

      3. Christian Berger

        Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

        The same goes for DVDs or Blu-Rays. It's just inconvenient to use them directly, and since its digital you have no quality disadvantages from playing a copy.

        1. ballist1x

          Re: CDs are only a delivery mechanism now

          re - DVDs and Blu-Rays..

          No they are hardly the same. When you put a dvd film or Blu ray on you're expecting it to run for an hour maybe 2 or three in often a seperate room from the PC.

          When you play Music you might want to change CD/track/playlist every 2-3 minutes.

          Im not saying that people dont rip their DVD or Blu-Rays but its more likely they are doing to sor pirate reasons or are simply downloading them as opposed to a requirement to rip them due to the stresses of opening a CD box every so often.

  2. Jolyon Ralph

    Economic harm?

    What bullshit. We are meant to feel sorry for companies trying to rip us off by wanting us to buy the same music twice? What is the author thinking????

    If I have paid for music on a CD that I can play in a car, on my computer or on a CD player, then there's no moral justification for stopping me listening to that same music on my iphone.

    Don't give the music companies a single penny of "compensation" for this. I, for once, am proud that in the UK we're holding out and not paying this fee to the music companies.

    Yes, Apple could afford to pay it - but that doesn't make it morally right.


    1. Anomynous Coward

      Re: Economic harm?

      If you think less in terms of companies and more in terms of musicians you can see where the problem lies - if Apple produced a device you could not possibly play pirated music on no one would buy it, so they profit from the ease with which they allow this piracy and for the artists this matters.

      If we want both convenient devices and musicians who can afford to eat then we need to at least consider the option of trying to mitigate the impact of piracy and as the article says this process needs to be above board and must benefit the people making the music - artists, recording studios and so on.

      We have almost certainly reached the point where big music companies are not required and no one would miss their drain on the finances of the industry - that's where the pain should be felt, not in the wallets of the people making the product.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Economic harm?

        > If we want both convenient devices and musicians who can afford to eat


        The vast majority of copyright is not owned by the original creator. Even the Beatles, collectively and individually, didn't own the copyright to their music, Michael Jackson owned it.

        Its the music companies who own most of the copyright.

        Now if they drafted the rules in such a way that recompense was only paid if the original creator still owned 100% of the copyright then I wouldn't object since so few copyrights would be eligible

      2. John Sturdy

        Re: Economic harm?

        I'm pretty sure that musicians ate before the recording industry existed, and will continue to do so if the music industry disappeared.

        I think I may even have seen old (possibly mediaeval) paintings showing musicians eating even before there were any recording technologies, although of course those might have been posed by models, and not real musicians.

        1. Mike Moyle

          Re: Economic harm?

          @ John Sturdy:

          <i?"I'm pretty sure that musicians ate before the recording industry existed, and will continue to do so if the music industry disappeared.

          I think I may even have seen old (possibly mediaeval) paintings showing musicians eating even before there were any recording technologies"</i>

          ...If they were eating in the paintings, instead of playing how do you know that they were the musicians...?

          1. John Sturdy

            now you come to mention it...

            Google won't find me any pictures of mediaeval musicians eating, instruments at the ready. I must therefore stand corrected, and assume they all starved to death.

            However, the players for the El Reg Commentards pubmeet shown at don't look like they're on the point of death.

            1. DAN*tastik
              Thumb Up

              @ John Sturdy - your 2nd comment

              "Google won't find me any pictures of medieval musicians eating, instruments at the ready. I must therefore stand corrected, and assume they all starved to death."

              You looked for medieval pictures. You should have looked for medieval videos instead.

              Unfortunately the medieval folks here didn't have the technology to put English subtitles in their medieval videos, but if you skip to 3:45 you can see the people who were medievally singing and playing earlier on, sitting at a medieval table with medieval food on it.

              You're welcome.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                blah blah blah

                Starving artists,

                If they're starving then they're probably shit and the record company has called in the loans.

                Good groups that don't sign with a major tend to make a fair amount of cash, tour a lot, live the life, then settle down as producers or marketers or indie label managers when their scene goes out of fashion.

                Most people sulking are those who sign to a major not understanding all the money they get is a loan at a very high rate of interest and that once the label has no need for them, so long money hello debt, and wait, why do I have no marketable skills? Coz you're a face stuck on bland commercial crap, that's why. Your music wasn't worth squat when you were big and it's worth even less now.

                Music scenes come and go you can't make a living out of it forever unless you're very determined, niche, or you rebrand every half decade.

                I don't see UKF complaining about piracy or format shifting.

                Fact of the matter only a retard would think that format shifting should be illegal or that you should be charged for the privilage, which is one of the reasons most media shy away from trying to enforce the stupid laws around it. They may be pig headed parasitic idiots, but they're not complete retards.

      3. Jolyon Ralph

        Re: Economic harm?

        The original article, and my comment, had nothing to do with piracy, and everything to do with format shifting. Despite what record company executives may want to believe, the two are not the same thing.

        If hungry musicians who sold me a CD want to eat, they can jolly well record a new album which I will buy, they should not expect me to bail them out because skanky kids are pirating their music. That's not my problem.

        1. Anomynous Coward

          Re: Economic harm?

          "The original article, and my comment, had nothing to do with piracy, and everything to do with format shifting."

          I can't believe you are stupid enough to think that there's a difference in the technology involved.

          You may only 'format shift' and never pirate, in which case good for you, I thoroughly approve.

          However the devices that allow you to do this allow easy piracy and providing this simplicity and breadth of use is vital to the profits they make - this is the opening thrust of the article; Apple could make a device that absolutely locked you to DRM that ensured, as far as is reasonably possible, that piracy did not happen but doing to would make the said device next to unsellable.

          So, as Apple profit from facilitating piracy, albeit no doubt unwillingly, it is reasonable to look at the options for redressing this and it is possible that the fairest option would impact upon people who do not pirate as well as those who do.

          "The vast majority of copyright is not owned by the original creator. Even the Beatles, collectively and individually, didn't own the copyright to their music, Michael Jackson owned it."

          That's not really relevant to this discussion - the copyright had value and the original transfer of that value benefitted the creators, so in order to properly reward the creators it is important to protect the value of the copyright. Whether or not that transfer of copyright ought to be allowed is a different matter.

          "I'm pretty sure that musicians ate before the recording industry existed, and will continue to do so if the music industry disappeared.

          I think I may even have seen old (possibly mediaeval) paintings showing musicians eating even before there were any recording technologies, although of course those might have been posed by models, and not real musicians."

          How reliable to you think the income of "mediaeval" musicians was? And then what about the songwriters, how secure was their income?

          In all sorts of ways music has moved beyond simply paying the performers for each performance and just as we would object to a scenario whereby Google was making a fortune from publishing Harry Potter e-books royalty-free while J.K Rowling could only earn a living from those people willing to pay her to read them out, we should not expect people who write music and songs to have to scrape along as buskers while Apple (and others, I single them out only as the most successful of the relevant companies) become incredibly rich.


          Just because an article is written by Orlowski does not mean it is completely irrational and without merit.

          1. Dazed and Confused

            Re: Economic harm?

            OK, I know that technically format shifting is a nono under the UK's poor excuse for a law on the subject, but the only reason I buy CDs is because I can format shift them.

            I went well over a decade buying CDs at the rate of less than 1 every couple of years. If that.

            Then along came the ability to easily carry them around on my PC and eventually on an MP3 player or phone. At this point the consumption of music became much easier. So I started to shop again. Not sure what I spent on CDs last year, rough guess somewhere between £200->300.

            Would I have bought them if I couldn't have used them as I do now?

            Probably not.

            At home I often listen from the CD, if not I listen from my desktop (my newer laptop doesn't have as good sound quality as my last one). But often with classic music I listen to the CD rather than the MP3s.

            When I'm out I listen either on my phone or my antiquated Creative MP3 player.

            While I'm away from home I listen a lot on my laptop (and grumble the sound isn't as good as the last one).

            That is the package of I'm looking for. That is the package I'm prepared to put my hand in my pocket for and pay for the Artists time and effort.

            What's the economic harm? A lot less than nothing.

            If the rules change so that I can't do this then the cash will go back to staying in my pocket.

            At the moment the market is at a stage where it is providing a product I choose to buy.

            If the record companies chose to do what a number of the film companies have chosen to do recently and sell the media in packet with different formats included, for a small over head, I'd happily pay more - they just need to work at a level where the incremental cost is low enough that it's worth me paying for rather than ripping the CDs myself or beating the kids into ripping for me.

            1. Anomynous Coward

              @Dazed & Confused

              "If the rules change so that I can't do this then the cash will go back to staying in my pocket."

              The rules are already that you cannot do that.

              That's sort of the point.

              Now (almost) no one thinks 'format shifting' is morally wrong but it is the same basic process as piracy, the same technology involved so it gets bound up in the same discussions.

              It isn't about protecting the record industry - or at least it needn't be about that. These days Apple is the record industry; despite their slightly non-conformist image they are the Man, taking a cut on sales and at the same time making a fortune from selling today's home taping machines, it's all gravy for them as long as people want to listen to music.

              So it's right to see if perhaps they should not make some sort of contribution to ensuring that the good music-making talent shares the joy.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Dazed & Confused

                Oh bollocks! Who the hell do you work for? I will PAY for your fucking music just ONCE, not fucking TWICE! GOT IT?????

              2. MrZoolook

                Re: @Dazed & Confused


                Now (almost) no one thinks 'format shifting' is morally wrong but it is the same basic process as piracy, the same technology involved so it gets bound up in the same discussions.

                Except that with piracy, you haven't paid for the original copy. Format Shifting INHERANTLY requires you to already have bought and licensed a copy according to the publishers OWN guidelines and limitations. If the publisher does not want you to format shift a copy of music you have legally paid for, and now rescind the licenses they were already purchased under due to new technology issues, they are quite welcome to return to me the money I paid (plus interest of course) and I will return the recording to them.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Economic harm?

              "the only reason I buy CDs is because I can format shift them"

              Exactly. So any compensation required for format shifting is *already* factored into the price of the CD.

          2. Jolyon Ralph

            Re: Economic harm?

            "I can't believe you are stupid enough to think that there's a difference in the technology involved."

            Did I mention technology at all? The technology allows me to listen to music that I have legally paid for. The fact that it allows people to listen to music they haven't paid for doesn't stop the technology working well for my purposes. Should I have to subsidise those who pirate music by paying an additional fee on my music player? No, I don't think so.

            The problem is DRM can't work with audio because CDs are unencrypted 16-bit uncompressed audio. By creating a system that requires DRM, you're preventing people from using music they have already paid for (ie, format shifting), it's not just the pirates who are getting annoyed.

            So, without pissing everybody off, you can't make an audio player that refuses to play pirate files. Simply isn't going to happen. If you want to blame anyone, blame the music industry for really not thinking the whole thing through in the late 70s/early 80s when they dreamt up going to digital.

            "Just because an article is written by Orlowski does not mean it is completely irrational and without merit."

            As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. I've not seen any.

      4. Luther Blissett

        Re: Economic harm?

        >> We have almost certainly reached the point where big music companies are not required and no one would miss their drain on the finances of the industry

        Would you rather put a proposal for your next album to a music company or to your bank manager?

        1. Anomynous Coward

          @Luther Blissett

          >> We have almost certainly reached the point where big music companies are not required and no one would miss their drain on the finances of the industry

          >Would you rather put a proposal for your next album to a music company or to your bank manager?

          To your audience via Kickstarter, perhaps?

          I should perhaps have emphasised the big - the companies that attempt to decide what we will listen to when. Do we need to be funding pluggers and marketers to the extent they have been?

          Is A&R even really as necessary to uncover the talent in the first place now we have global word-of-mouth via social media?

          There's a benefit to a good record label providing advice, guidance and organisation and we obviously need good studios and producers but I do not think we need these all funding a management overhead and shareholder profits these days.

        2. David Cantrell

          Re: Economic harm?

          I'd not involve either a record company or a bank manager. There are plenty of people who make a living from their music without involving either. They make money by teaching, playing lots of gigs, and flogging recordings and other merchandise, both at gigs and online. Thanks to t'interweb you don't need someone else to do your PR and you don't need massive up-front investment to manufacture your merchandise or distribute your recordings. You don't even need to spend much on studios and engineers these days, given how much you can do at home on your Mac.

      5. Al Jones

        Re: Economic harm?

        How much money did UK customers pay for music in 2011?

        How much money did musicians in the UK earn from their recordings in 2011?

        They seem like two very obvious questions. But for some reason you won't find an answer to the 2nd question anywhere, presumably because the discrepancy between the two answers would demonstrate the absurdity of those who complain that 21st century is causing mass starvation for artists.

      6. MrZoolook
        Thumb Down

        Re: Economic harm?


        If we want both convenient devices and musicians who can afford to eat then we need to at least consider the option of trying to mitigate the impact of piracy and as the article says this process needs to be above board and must benefit the people making the music - artists, recording studios and so on.

        What utter codswallop. A musician typically gets a fixed amount of money for a performance (album/single/whatever) UNLESS they convince the publisher to give them a percentage (which nowadays is unlikely unless they have a few million album sales behind them, thus the publisher knows they will get a decent return). Therefore buying 'extra copies' for your iPod (or indeed any other and mostly superior portable player) is not going to magically give food to these hungry musicians.

        If they are going hungry, they need to get a better deal from their publishers. IF I pay an extra amount of money for the 'privilege' of listening to music I already bought (even considering its just buying a license anyway, with a copy of the music in CD format), the average publisher will not pass this onto the performers, since the publisher has already fulfilled its contract for payment. The only exception would be (for example) a 1970s debut album of a NOW worldwide household and marketable act. They would then be in a position to re-negotiate the original 1970s contract.

    2. Miffo

      Re: Economic harm?

      The authors point is that what we all do is illegal and perhaps we should attempt to do something so that we are not breaking the law. Some people are like that. :-)

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Economic harm? (miffo)

        Yes - change the law

    3. Stevie

      Re: Economic harm?

      Absolutely. Music peddlers have been regretting the decision to switch from sheet music (the original way of moving extra-performance music to the masses) to recorded music ever since the initial rush of money wore off and it dawned that they were selling however many repeat performances for free. Cylinders wore out quickly, but once more durable acetate and vinyl had hit the racks and the reproduction machinery became affordable the whole shooting match changed.

      Add to that the indisputable fact that moving music from the radio and "disc jockeys" to a personal player caused massive changes in the music scene itself and the money to be made - and lost - became astronomical.

      Digital reproduction tech means anyone can have a copy that is as good as the original - no loss from the re-recording as per tape - and so it is obvious the companies would move aggressively to lock it down. The history of DAT is the whole ball of wax compressed into a couple of years. "Open" at first, pulled form the shelves until a way could be found of nerfing the re-recording of tapes and that killed it stone dead.

      What makes me laugh is the hysterical reaction of the iTune Tots when confronted by evidence that the CD isn't dying out any time soon.

      But then, I remember when music came with artwork you could see and every record store was a modern art gallery, worth walking through just to feast the eyes. My kid spotted the booklet that came with "Pictures at an exhibition" and wondered why anyone would bother with those tiny paintings on the inside, so I showed her my vinyl copy. She's an artist and the reaction was interesting.

      Shame that particular market for talent is drying up. No more Roger Deans bootstrapping to prominence on the cover of a great-selling album.

      1. Luther Blissett

        Re: Economic harms

        >> No more Roger Deans bootstrapping to prominence on the cover of a great-selling album.

        So make the art the commodity (eg fine art print), and bootstrap the music on it.

  3. JetSetJim

    Where is the economic harm... not paying "royalties" for format shifting that we already do (illicitly)?

    1. Ian 56

      Re: Where is the economic harm...

      My thoughts exactly - the economic "harm" would be zero.

      Of course, if a load of bureaucrats started investigating this, quite a lot of people, including certain usual suspects (coughOrlowskicough), would waste no time complaining about the waste of taxpayer's money.

      On the other hand, the economic benefits from liberalising the regime and allowing companies to officially target format-shifting as a service or feature, should be obvious to anybody (coughOrlowskicough) - if not so easily quantified.

      1. Anomynous Coward

        Re: Where is the economic harm...

        "the economic benefits from liberalising the regime and allowing companies to officially target format-shifting as a service or feature, should be obvious to anybody"

        Isn't that what he is saying? Format shifting is currently illegal but the regulations allow for it to be permitted providing some recompense to the artists (okay, to the copyright holders but the difference between the two is another battleground altogether).

        There companies already reaping an economic benefit from format shifting.

        So get that opened up with a bit of a shift of cash and move on from the current daft situation where something everyone does is technically illegal.

        In spite of the author it seems both just and sensible to consider this.

        1. AdamWill

          Re: Where is the economic harm...

          What we're complaining about is that there's absolutely no sensible justification for any kind of 'compensation' for format shifting. Why should I pay the artist, the record company or anyone at all any extra money for the privilege of being able to rip a CD to a hard disk? What am I compensating them *for*? What have they lost? What work have they done?

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Where is the economic harm...

          > There companies already reaping an economic benefit from format shifting

          Yes, but the argument used to justify the change is £££ is flawed. They claim that devices are worth more because they can play CD music, which is probably true. However if you "flip the world" to the alternative "legal" reality then how does it look? CDs become practically worthless. Taking their argument then the seller of CDs should be giving money to the hardware vendors for making their product "more valuable.

          They should just accept that the status quo is "win-win" and change the law to something along the lines of "if you bought music you have a right to play it on any device you own, no commercial exploitation allowed". No too hard eh?

          Any new technology has to bring benefits to the consumer otherwise it's a non-starter; DRM fails on every level as being(1) not useful to the customer (2) likely to make music more expensive, (3) no standard interoperability between devices (if MS tried this shit with office formats there would be outcry. Oh look, their was).

          Mandating any kind of DRM is flawed until (1) all device use the _same_ DRM (2) all devices use the same formats. Currently (1) is impossible because all DRM designs when fully implemented are wrapped up in enough patents to make any lawyer cry with joy and (2) is practically impossible as we keep inventing new ones, making uncompressed audio about the only way to go.

  4. g e

    Missed the boat by years

    Big Meeja have had years to get over themselves and bring themselves into the online age.

    Now they deserve the results of their failure to act, when everyone has been telling them to for a decade, to bite them squarely on the arse.

  5. Chad H.

    Format shifiting levies

    Ultimately these levies are unfair to - to the artists themselves. How do they determine who gets what share of the cash - My understanding its based on Radio Airplay, so if you have exotic tastes and hate current popular trash, you can't help but subsidise it whilst your prefered artist goes wanting.

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: Format shifiting levies

      100% agree. Why should I have to pay a levy that will, most likely, fund the Justin Bieber of the day? I'd much rather give money to those I consider deserving of it, which I do when I buy CD's anyway (indirectly granted).

      A blanket levy will do one thing, encourage the likes of Cowell to push out more shite.

      For those that missed mongrels, this song comes to mind

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Format shifiting levies

        From personal experience with the UK PPL (Phonographic Performance Limit) they pay lip service to distributing the fees levied to the artists involved but that's it. In reality, the only methodology they can possibly have implemented it to levy fees, pool the fees and then share out to the distributors arbitrarily.

        I know this because I previously worked in the industry where we could list the date and times of tracks as played in clubs and pubs nationwide and with even just taking one chain consisting of hundreds of venues even just the monthly report of this is very lengthy. The PPL insisted on this in paper format (although we did manage to persuade them that CDs of the PDF documents were better), there is no way that they were going to process the records and distribute the fees fairly based on them. Instead the fees were split between the distributors who were then left to reward artists as they felt fit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Format shifiting levies

          Agreed. As normal, Mr Orlowski's proposed measures are all about keeping the middlemen fed and offering only the lucky artistes the second bite at the cash...if that.

          Further: It takes a lot of paperwork and cash *upfront* to register with these organisations; and so independent artistes without a label contract are going to get carved out of any benefits anyway.

          And this tax-per-device thing doesn't work either...they tried it in Spain and are still bitching about us actually having the temerity to use the concessions that we pay for.

          1. TeeCee Gold badge

            Re: Format shifiting levies

            At least Mr Orlowski has the balls to present the issues[1] and suffer the flames, rather than just toeing the usual webhacks' approved line of ensuring that one's tongue is properly inserted into the freetards' collective arse.

            [1] Fairly even-handedly IMHO.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Format shifiting levies

              Even-handedly if you're a copyright-holder. The buying public and the creatives themselves are under-represented IMO.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Format shifiting levies

      In Canada there is a levy on all blank CDs to cover this.

      In theory it goes to the artists based on all time record sales (so Bryan Adams and Celine Dion) - however the 25c/disk (!) doesn't cover the costs of the scheme so no money has been paid out.

      But small local bands selling their own home made CDs do get to pay the levy on the blanks - so that's OK then.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Format shifiting levies

      And on blank media.

      Why should I pay a levy on a blank CD to burn data, or a blank DVD which I am selling with my own copywrited material on it?

      Why should I pay a levy for my holiday video on Blu Ray?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I've bought it as a CD or MP3, I'm entitled to do whatever the fucking hell I please with it, in a personal capacity. Be that turning the CD into a MP3, or the MP3 into a Wax Cylinder. It's about time that instead of buying a license to own a CD, etc, you have a license for that track for personal use. Especially where there is no discernible quality increase, unlike SD to HD content.

    It's what I do, though.. to be fair. Copyright Law is well behind my personal interpretation of it. Legal where possible, and illegitimate where not... I'm happy to allow that business model to develop into one where I am able to get content in the formats I want. The same illegitimate models that have allowed iTunes, NetFlix and Steam to eventually profit from it... eventually we give enough reason to monetise it, they will. The corporations aren't happy about it, but the people really do have the power in the media industry at the moment.

    For the record I have a large amount of purchased media, 100 or so games, 400+ movies and hundreds of paid for MP3 albums... get the business model right, and I'll pay. Simple. I'm happy to pay.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm entitled"

      Those two words are enought to tell anyone why the Western cultures of the world are in such a bad way. No son, you're not entitled to anything.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: "I'm entitled"

        ditto to the corporates.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I'm entitled"

        Five self entitled downvote. You've got to love the mentality of the freetard/fandroid.

  7. TheOtherHobbes

    Problem is

    only a clueless drooling amoeba - or an economist (but I repeat myself) - would believe a set of web questions has any practical relationship to actual spending habits.

    And performing a 'conjoint analysis' on this 'data' to return feature values to the nearest penny is hilariously bad (but unfortunately probably quite well paid) non-science.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can have all the access you desire long as you are willing to pay for the right to duplicate or transfer to newer media. Few people I know value their music collection that much. They just buy new music as the times and trends change.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can have all the access you desire

      That's weird, as I definitely remembered ripping every single one of my CDs when MP3 started to become popular. [Deleted previous due to forgetting the all important 'MP3']

  9. hahnchen

    How does rent seeking reduce "economic harm"?

    Andrew is arguing over lawyery semantics. When people buy a CD, they're paying for music, not a shiny piece of plastic. That the law states that they are merely buy an obsolete piece of plastic, means that the law is anachronistic, and never really grounded in reality in the first place.

    If record companies believe that format shifting of CDs is valuable, and this report suggests that it is, then why don't record companies raise the price of those CDs, introduce some stupid DRM, and see how much we *really* value it.

    Then we'll see who's producing the lobbynomics.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Nope sorry....

    ..if I buy the disc, MP3 or whatever, I will format shift it as much as I bloody want.

    Should the artists be compensated?

    Have they produced a new recording? No, so why should they benefit?

    I've no issue with them officially releasing it in a new format and charging for it, that's up to them, but why should end users have to have the situation of where an "artist" records once and then you have to pay over and over each time you want to replay the media in a different format?

    If recording artist and companies want to keep getting money, then they need to keep making music.

    But I guess I must be a evil pirate and music hater, those 2000+ CD's, in my loft must all be paid for again in full as I want them in a more convenient format.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope sorry....

      Wrong again.

      You are not buying the "art" you are buying digital access to the art - which comes with specific rights and limitations. Illegal copies will land you in the slammer, as they should. If you want more copies you either pay for them or get punished for violation of copyright law. It's no different than buying a copy of a software program or an O/S. If you want to install these on multiple machines, which requires multiple copies, you must pay for the additional copies/use.

      1. Dire Criti¢

        Re: Nope sorry....

        @Anonymous Coward 21st May 2012 16:35 GMT

        "Illegal copies will land you in the slammer"

        What bollocks. Whilst it may technically be against the law; no-one, to my knowledge, has ever been sent to the "slammer" for personal use format shifting.

        The law on this matter is pretty much unenforceable and to all intents and purposes may as well not exist at all.

        All the more reason for it being taken off the statute books.

      2. chris lively

        Re: Nope sorry....

        And this is the fundamental problem. We aren't buying a license to listen to the music. We are buying a complete package. This difference between what the record companies are actually selling and what we think we are buying is huge.

        Which is really what needs fixed. Establish that, regardless of medium, a copy of the art is what's being acquired. Then we won't need a "format shifting" discussion and more people would get behind the rights holders.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope sorry....

        Don't be a daft lad. You can install multiple copies on many pcs. You may only USE one copy at a time though as per the licence. Rather like spotify pauses you if you fire up and PLAY a second installation. So that's the same for format shifting.

      4. Seb123

        Re: Nope sorry.... Posted Monday 21st May 2012 16:35 GMT Anonymous Coward

        No, my dear sir, I am afraid that you're wrong and are, in fact, an imbecile of gargantuan proportions.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope sorry....

        No problem.

        Provided you agree to never play you music in public place or where it can be heard by a member of the public (e.g. somewhere with your windows open). Never have a TV facing the street.

        That would be infringement of public broadcasting.

        You never lend a recording to someone and say check out this new group they are fantastic.

        Unauthorized lending.

  11. Bunker_Monkey

    What about..

    Some of us that started to mp3 vinyl so that it could be played back on said devices.....

    time must cost something as you cannot just rip it like a CD... (or tapes as well)

    (mines the one with a Stanton 500 ALII in the pocket)

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: What about..

      Some of us that started to mp3 vinyl so that it could be played back on said devices.....

      time must cost something as you cannot just rip it like a CD... (or tapes as well)

      I think that's the unspoken dirty little secret of the vinyl revival; aside from all the talk about the unique sonic characteristics of properly cared-for vinyl on decent-quality equipment -- ripping vinyl to mp3 doesn't produce a "signature" (that I know of) and you can't encode DRM on vinyl.

  12. That Steve Guy

    Forced format shifting apathy....

    The big issue here is that consumers hate formats being made obsolete and all their music collections with it.

    People above me summed it up 100%, "Why should I buy again something I already own" and this is the one thing that always gets people's backs up.

    These days data is provided on certain media formats and then those formats get made obsolete deliberately by the suppliers. First we had vinyl records, then we had tapes, next we had CDs, now finally we have digital files and the whole myriad of file formats and devices that go with it!

    Each format was forced into obsolecence by manufacturing companies who wanted to shift newer hi-fis, steroes, ipods, and most importantly a record industry that wants us to buy our music collections multiple times over.

    The way I see it people have invested a lot of money into their CD/DVD collections and they do not want to buy them again so soon after having to do so after the whole vinyl/tape/VHS thing. I for one don't want to spend more for what I own.

    1. Fuzz

      Re: Forced format shifting apathy....

      format obsolescence is not generally caused by manufacturers.

      Tapes became popular alongside vinyl because they were portable. The quality wasn't as good and all that rewinding was a pain so they never took over from vinyl.

      CDs are considered better than vinyl by most people because they are easier to use and allow you to jump forwards and backwards across the disc accurately and instantly. They didn't completely replace tape because they weren't as good on the move.

      mp3s have replaced tapes because they're better in every way. For some people they've replaced CDs, for others CDs are still useful as a way to buy uncompressed DRM free music.

      DVDs combined with PVRs have replaced VCRs because again in almost all use cases the new product is better.

      examples of products that are their purely to line pockets are minidisc, DCC and bluray, these are products that have benefits over their predecessors but not enough to warrant going out and repurchasing music or video collections to take advantage of.

  13. HP Cynic

    There just seems no end to the pathetic, money grubbing of the media corps - we are getting closer to pay per listen/play/read as it seems they don't want us to own anything.

    I just spendt hours copying all my CDs onto my HDD the other weekend and never have nor will I ever buy MP3s: I want to physically own the CD as my "personal master".

    I don't trust iTunes enough to buy from: it loses my music enough as it is.

    Oh and CDs are cheaper: I never pay more than £8 for an album now. No idea how HMV can sell albums for £20 or whatever joke-price they are now.

  14. Ed Courtenay

    Why pay to downscale?

    The economics are simple from my perspective as a user; I'll pay to 'upscale' but it'll be a cold day in hell when agree to pay again for the same content in a downscaled format.

    As a teenager I had a fairly heathly collection of cassettes; as my disposable income grew and CD players/CDs became ubiquitous I re-purchased the collection of The The, Joy Division and Depeche Mode albums I had leaving the stuff I had "grown out of" behind - and I was happy to do so, as I got something extra. As an 'upscaling' transaction I got a more robust storage format (not indestructible, but those of a certain age will remember the sound as a tape got mangled) and much improved audio fidelity.

    The format-shifting process will only ever at best return the same quality as the source, and in most situations (converting flac/wav to mp3 for example) will produce a lower quality destination result. Why should I (or anyone else) be asked to pay extra for an inferior copy?

    The CD introduced a massive problem for the audio content industry; once people have high quality music in their posession, what incentive do they now have to re-purchase? Tape -> CD was a no-brainer, as was VHS -> DVD, but if the user doesn't percieve any added benefit they aren't going to accept having to pay extra.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Why pay to downscale?

      Ultiamtely the regular consumer isn't an audiophile, they dont require "Great" or perhaps even "good" quality. They want "Acceptable" "affordable" and "portable".

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Why pay to downscale?

        "Ultiamtely the regular consumer isn't an audiophile, they dont require "Great" or perhaps even "good" quality. They want "Acceptable" "affordable" and "portable""

        And that is the industry's real problem. The consumer wants crap and crap isn't worth paying money for...

        Educate the consumer to understand quality and perhaps something can still be saved.

  15. Andrew James

    Would the record labels prefer we buy a cd, and rip it to digital for use on our various devices, or just download it for free, bypassing them entirely?

    16 or 17 years ago I had a Sony Discman, i carried around a couple of cd's in my pocket and listened to a few hours of music between charges. Now i can carry several days worth of music and have the battery to last at least a day of playback - I already own all the music on cd, but I'm not allowed to convert that music i bought the rights to play into a format that lets me play it when I want to listen?

    If the record labels wake up they might actually make more money than ever before now we can buy music on a whim while standing at a bus stop, etc rather than going about it the old fashioned way and going out specifically to buy an album or two on a saturday morning, and only being able to listen to it at home.

  16. jrd010

    The problem is...

    ...the music industry doesn't see music the same as we do.

    They see each possible "copy" of a song as a "lost sale".

    Historically, this has worked for them. Going forward, not so much, I think.

    In Thee Olden Days, we bought a song on vinyl - a record. Then came cassette tape (and remember, folks, Home Taping Killed the Music Industry - oh wait, it didn't, they're still here). Some people copied records to tape, many others bought tapes of the same records they already owned, just in a different format, for convenience.

    Then along came CDs, and many people, once again, paid *yet again* for the same song they already owned, just in a different format. Some people transferred records to recordable CDs, but most didn't.

    This is the music industry model -- they like to call these different formats of the same song "copies", and (to be fair) the copyright legislation as it currently stands mostly agrees with them. Personally I have no problem with them charging for a version of the song in whichever format it may be, as long as that cost mostly reflects the cost of generating that version.

    Unfortunately, along came computers, and MP3s, and suddenly it was "easy" for anybody to format-shift the music they'd paid for. In fact, Microsoft built CD-ripping into Media Player as long ago as XP.

    Sadly, rather than adapt to this new world by trying to change copyright such that it was the *music* you bought, the music industry fought to preserve their existing model -- and given it worked (mostly) with tape and CD, who can realistically blame them?

    MOST people would be happy to buy the songs they want to listen to, but to then charge them again and again (and again) just to have the same song in a newer format, with no added value, I don't think so.

    Personally, I feel that the 'old' model is unsustainable, particularly when the music industry tries to claim that an album of MP3s (no media, no packaging, no or minimal distribution cost) should cost the same as the physical CD, which has production costs, packaging, warehousing, shipping, physical storefront, etc, etc...

    1. PyLETS

      Re: The problem is...

      'They see each possible "copy" of a song as a "lost sale".'

      The simple refutation of the argument that any copy is a lost sale concerns the difference between what an artist gets for one person listening/recording one song over the radio, or the same song as part of a CD. The artist has rights in respect of both plays (also primarily over the businesses involved), but the prices are not the same. The share they get concerning a radio play will end up as a tiny fraction of the due share which relevant law decides the financing of a radio station ought to include for rights holders fees.

      Not all sales are equally valuable to the artist, nor should they be. You'll get people on the same train journey or flight paying wildly different ticket prices, and if it were not so, both the revenue to operators and utility to travellers would decrease.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They see each possible "copy" of a song as a "lost sale".

      and the government see it as a lost bit of tax.

      some countries tax blank media to recoup the loss.

    3. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      Re: The problem is...

      In Thee Olden Days, we bought a song on vinyl - a record. Then came cassette tape (and remember, folks, Home Taping Killed the Music Industry - oh wait, it didn't, they're still here). Some people copied records to tape, many others bought tapes of the same records they already owned, just in a different format, for convenience...

      You nailed it, man. In Ye Olden Days, whenever I bought an LP, the first time I'd play it would be to dub it onto cassette so that I could listen to it in my car, and on my deck at home to avoid excess wear and tear on the vinyl. I'd dub the LP, then put it back into the slipcase and stash it on the shelf as my "master", safe until the cassette wore out, and then I'd pull the LP to make a fresh tape dub, then put it away again. I have LPs I bought in college which are still in near-mint condition because I handled them this way.

      I do that with my CDs and my bootleg live footage today; I rip the CDs to mp3 so I can ilsten to them with iTunes without risking any damage to the CDs in the process of handling them, and my bootleg live stuff is downloaded as FLACs or 320k mp3's, then backed up to audio CDs for use as a "master". I also still occasionally dub stuff to cassettes to play in the old boombox while I'm working in the garden.

  17. nijam Silver badge

    Technically, playing a CD (or MP3, or any other medium for that matter) is format shifting the content. Perhaps the law against format shifting needs to be repealed. Or perhaps it is to protect us from the crap that the "creative industries" sell. (Of course, there are no creative industries, in fact; the creative parts aren't industries, and the industries aren't creative.)

  18. Robert Forsyth

    If you are not going to give them money

    why would a copyright holder want you to be able to easily copy it?

    Naïve posters?

    The copyright holder has the right to say who and how the material can be copied. If you want to copy it you have to get permission to do so, and perhaps pay for the privilege, unless the rights holder has already given you that permission. The other option is to vote with your feet.

    If it could be suggested to the copyright holder that you will only buy the CD if it includes the right to copy it for personal use (and not let someone else use the CD in the meantime), that would be legal. Some BDs/DVDs come with digital download rights.

    1. VespaBoy

      Re: If you are not going to give them money

      As others have already implied, this point simply asks more loudly "do we pay for the music or the format?". The corollary being, "are music companies (publishers) selling music, or are they selling MP3, vinyl, CDs etc?". My peronal view is that music companies / record labels sell the music, not the formats...I buy the right to listen to the music, not a piece of plastic that happens to have music on it.

      If they could, record companies would charge everyone for EACH listen.

    2. Ben Tasker

      Re: If you are not going to give them money

      The other option is to vote with your feet.

      Except that we can't even do that! You see, when the media industry makes less money it's "because of piracy" and they start campaigning for more draconian regs.

      I'll quite happily spend a couple of quid extra for the 'triple play' packs if/when buying a BR. Much as I like having the Hi-Def content, the reality is when my BR player packs up it'll be a DVD player going back in its place because I don't think the improvement in quality is worth the price difference (not quite format shifting as they're supplying it, but similar principle)

      What I won't go for, is purchasing something in one format to find I'm tied to that. As it stands, if DVD players dropped off the face of the earth, I'll simply stop buying video media until something sensible comes along (streaming no use with my BB speed) and content myself with DVD rips in the meantime (all ripped from a disc I've paid for, I hasten to add).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you are not going to give them money

      Copyright holder already knows they can be copied. That's why the twats released it on cd.

  19. Stevie


    This just in: A significant proportion of the population also prefer to breathe air and eat food.

    Well done Professor Obvious.

  20. Joseph Lord

    Ban on personal copying brings copyright into disrepute

    The fact that perfectly reasonable use such as copying your music to portable devices is currently infringing makes infringers of the vast majority of people, makes complying with the law difficult/expensive/pedantic. This results in almost everyone making personal ethical judgements on copyright rather than following the law. Some freetards may feel entitled to copy and even distribute content, paytards may repurchase in iTunes the content they already have on CD but most people will shade somewhere in between. A more reasonable law may be able to become a social norm which should really be the goal of both lawmakers and media industries.

    The solution isn't to charge for reasonable behaviour but simply to permit it. If people feel that they are paying for content with devices they may feel morally entitled to use P2P services to obtain media.

    The article fails by assuming that there should be a right over personal copying or at least compensation without questioning this.

  21. Stevie


    During the late 70s/early 80s the loudest voice calling for banning the taping of personally owned music belonged to EMI, who incidentally were the world leader in sales of blank cassettes.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Bah!

      I also seem to remember that the blank tapes I used to buy to copy vinyl to mostly came from the same record shop as the vinyl.

      1. Stevie

        Re: Bah!

        Yah. And I loved that the pre-recorded tapes were of such crap quality too. I switched briefly to buying pre-recorded cassettes when I came to the US and was still under the impression I was going to return Blightside (this was the infancy of the CD era and portable CD players were a joke and cost a fortune). I picked up "Brothers In Arms" when it was a contemporary hit and was astounded that the distributor was crowing about using "high quality tape" to match the digital master. The tape in question was Chrome Dioxide, superseded by various proprietary formulations (TDK's Super Avalyn was my personal favourite) a decade before.

        It's no wonder they can't find much sympathy in the buying public even without the "freetard" lobby's input (using that word in the culturally accepted sense, not to insult anyone in particular).

    2. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Bah!

      Ahh, yeah; I remember them...

      an unlimited supply

      and there is no reason why

      I tell ya it was all a frame

      they only did 'cos of fame!


  22. PyLETS

    sales commission yes, control over use no

    If musicians increase the value consumer elecronics has to consumers then give the musicians a share of that increase in value, to encourage product designers and manufacturers to increase this utility. This approach also shows up DRM as of negative value, for the value destruction it entails. Encumbered hardware should receive no such share, as the consumer is inherently prevented from using content so delivered for non-commercial purposes as the consumer sees fit. In exchange for these moneys, format shifting is no longer technically legally restricted by unenforceable rights. It's much easier for the content rights holders to go after commercial beneficiaries anyway, as these are relatively very few in number compared to non-commercial beneficiaries.

    It's also in keeping with the original intent of copyright law that it should only require changes in the behaviour of a few commercial businesses (in the original form it meant a few printing press owners) while consumers benefitted by there being more cheaply books available in preference to expensive hand copied books. Non commercial lending and sharing of books then wasn't regulated.

    The same goes for Internet. How many of us would purchase connections offering better than a very small monthly cap unless we could use this for sharing content, Internet radio or various other media uses, whether within our homes or with our neighbours or further afield ? Rights of privacy, expression and freedom to communicate of everyone must take precedence over control of distribution benefiting a minority, especially given the infeasibility and unpopularity associated with attempts at mass behaviour control. Again it's the commercial beneficiaries (in this case ISPs) who should pay a sales commission in exchange for content rights holders losing unenforceable rights to control distribution.

    If it's possible to figure out the increase in value of an Internet connection in the same way as suggested in this article, the real arguments here then concerns what share of the added value of ISP service the content industry as a whole (including movies, books, music, and software ) should obtain, and how these proceeds should be divided up.

    There will be a few folk who object to paying towards content rights as a small part of the normal cost of a net connection which they mainly use to download 3 different Linux distributions every week, but who never use it to hear any music or watch any films. That's a bit like those who only watch commercial TV in the UK complaining about the license fee which goes to the BBC.

    Interestingly, those like my son whose chosen music license allows free non-commercial distribution but with rights reserved over commercial distribution would qualify for part of the revenue obtainable by this means.

    1. catprog

      Re: sales commission yes, control over use no

      If consumer electronics increase the value of music then the musicians should have to give a share of the revenue to the consumer electronics companies.

      I mean how often would you listen to music if you had to be at home with heavy/fragile speakers/playback device compared with a lightweight portable device.

  23. Fihart

    "Audio" CDR

    I'm one of a few who own a standalone CD recorder, which is handy for transcribing LPs but crippled requiring so-called Audio or Music CDR blanks. These are identical to data CDRs but have a sort of spoiler code on them and cost around 40p more per disk than data CDRs. That's if you can find them.

    The extra cost is, in part, a levy to the record industry to appease their panic that CD Recorders would be used to copy their artists' CDs. Of course, nobody uses them for that because it's as easy to do it on a computer you already have and you save paying £200 for a CD recorder and a 40p tax on every blank disc.

    The irony is that the only other people I know who use CD recorders are musicians recording their own work. So most of the people paying the levy are musicians, effectively being taxed for recording music to which they already own the copyright.

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: "Audio" CDR

      I have to admit, I often wondered why people bought the 'Audio' CD-Rs when the data were cheaper (and could do the same thing). I guess you've just answered that for me!

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Re: "Audio" CDR

        Stop me if I'm wrong, anybody, but as I recall, there was really no difference between the data CDRs and audio CDRs besides labeling. I used just regular old CDRs to burn my mix discs for years before somebody had the bright idea of labeling "data" and "audio" CDRs, and they still play fine.

        It's been some years, but I seem to recall something about complying with some country's tax law revisions regarding copyright and blank digital media... or maybe it was just marketing.

  24. Nigel 11

    A way forward

    This probably wouldn't work with popular music, but if one of the large music companies offered me a way to listen to anything in their entire classical catalogue whenever I wanted for a monthly subscription fee in the Sky-TV ballpark, I'd jump at it. If it used DRM to prevent me making copies I'd still take it. I'd rather listen to a different performance every time, than revisit the exact same one I'd bought.

    Provided - PROVIDED - it was an uncompressed or losslessly-compressed bitstream hitting my DAC.

    It'll never happen. Well, not unless the world's musicians get their tech act together and tell Sony et al to go jump in a volcano.

  25. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    What is needed to keep everyone happy (except the music thieves) is for all suppliers of playback equipment to agree to ONE format of DRM protected file format.

    That way when I move my music from my old iOS device to my new 'Droid I could still play these files. If I bought a file online I could play it on any device I own. Won't happen as they can't agree and even if they did, how would you manage backups and such?

    Realistically, if they'd gone for this 15+ years ago they might have managed it, but the music industry dragged it's heels and the world blew past it and now it is desperately trying to stay afloat.

    Short term not much will change except that the sensible musicians will market their wares themselves online, and will price their product such that they make a decent living.

    The years of the super-rich musician is nearly over and y'all better get used to the idea.

    The protectionism by the music corporations is just their long drawn out death-rattle.

    1. Ben Tasker

      how would you manage backups and such?

      They'd say, not our problem! That I can almost guarantee.

      The problem with using DRM is it means you're reliant on a single technology. 20 years down the line, if I want to listen to a track I bought today, will I still be able to do it? I'd still be able to listen to Vinyl or CD (if I can find a player), but what about a DRM solution? With everything going into the 'cloud' you can guarantee that your player would need to speak to the DRM server, which may not be there anymore.

      Whilst it is a minor consideration, I do like to know that I'll be able to listen to what I've paid for whenever I want, no matter how far in the future that may be.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        DRM is not the answer.

        Firstly the DRM control servers may not be there forever as Mr Tasker above pointed out.

        Secondly a music collection represents a significant investment in terms of time and money. Only an idiot is going to let that investment exist only at the whim of a hostile entity.

        Third...who the hell wants to be forced to connect to the net in order to play a song?

        Fourth. If the media industry has you over a barrel; maybe in the future they'll force an advert or facebook 'like' on you before the song will play. This is an industry that has traditionally started by taking the piss and then devolving from there.

        DRM is definitely not the answer and will only inconvenience paying customers. 'Freetards' will have already stripped out the DRM at the time of acquisition.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      These days, music is generally not sold in DRM protected formats. Apple sells it as unprotected aac files which will work in a few third party media players. Most other shops such as Amazon sell it as mp3 files which will work pretty much anywhere.

    3. sisk


      "The years of the super-rich musician is nearly over and y'all better get used to the idea."

      Not at all. The days of the super-rich record executive are nearly over, but musicians don't need record companies anymore. In this day and age it's entirely possible for an indie band with a $1000 soundboard and a studio in one of the members' basements to make a killing selling their tracks online. Once they hit a critical mass of popularity, they, or an independant manager working for them, can set up tours and make even more.

      Mark my words: the day is coming very soon when some band is going to bank seven digits of income per year without any of the big name record companies. When that happens you'll know that it's the beginning of the end for the record labels. From that point on every time they try to sign a new artist they'll be met with "X got rich without you, so why should we give you the rights to our music and accept a pidly percentage of the sales in return?"

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair Use

    That's the nice thing about the states... we have fair use laws. I can make a copy of the cd that I bought for my own use. Doesn't matter if it's another cd, cassette tape, 8-track, reel to reel or computer file. We already pay a 'fee' on all recording media (cassettes, vcr tapes, blank cd's and dvd's) to cover for copyrighted works regardless if the media is to ever be used for such.

    Personally, even if the law changed to make format shifting illegal, I'd do it anyway. I own over 1500 cds, 1000 dvds and 500 bds which I rip for my home theatre set up. I'm not going to pay for the shift, just like the music companies aren't going to pay me for the labor that went into the shifting. Those 'poor' musicians who may cry foul over it can suck it up.

    1. Tom 7

      You dont pay for all recording media

      your hard disks are exempt.

      I don't think you should have to - I believe the recording industries steal more money from the musicians than the public ever do.

      I'd advise you to but direct from musicians wherever possible even if the thought of a copy of your local musician on CD is in fact supporting Justin Beiber makes you quiver.

  27. Christian Berger

    I would be paying considerably more for DRM-free media

    Considering how much time and effort it costs me for ripping DRM encumbered formats, I'd be willing to pay twice as much for a DRM free copy.

    However in reality the DRM free copies usually are cheaper, either via Bittorrent or television.

  28. sisk

    CDs? They still sell those?

    Everyone I know has bought all their music online for years. Given that I hang out with a bunch of geeks that may not be representative of the general population, but still 20% sounds really low for a percentage of people who only buy online.

    1. Andy Fletcher

      Re: CDs? They still sell those?

      CD's tend to get given as birthday/christmas presents in my family. Seems weider and weider as time goes by.

      "Look, I got you this, it cost me £20, so you know how much I care about you!"

      "You spent £20 on something I could've easily got for half the price or even free? Thanks!"

    2. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      Re: CDs? They still sell those?

      CDs are great. Couple of quid secondhand from Amazon, rip them to a lossless format, file them away as a backup / occasional use.

  29. AlexS


    If it doesn't support FLAC forget it.

    If iPhone supported FLAC I just MIGHT buy one.

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: FLAC

      Hmm... the Nokia Maemo devices could run mplayer which supports FLAC.

    2. Seb123

      Re: FLAC

      iPhone supports Apple Lossless and you can convert between FLAC and Apple Lossless very easily without any loss.

  30. Bucky 2

    Simple fix

    I'd be happy to agree that composers and performers are entitled to royalties from copies of recordings made. The amount of money per recording that a copier should be expected to pay should be identical to the amount of money the recording industry pays to the same composers and performers for republishing works under one format or another.

    Per copy made of course--not per copy sold, since that wouldn't be the same thing.

    That's fair.

    Of couse, the bitch is enforcement.

  31. The BigYin

    Copying is a crime. Or at least it should.

    Everyone knows that the only way to stop actors and musicians staving to death through poverty is to pay full-price each time you want to listen to a song/watch a movie on different digital media. It's only fair, each time you hear/watch the media you are uplifted/comforted/entertained; so why should you not reward those involved.

    Allowing consumers to copy media from one device to another will destroy businesses and send millions of people on to the streets. Imagine the streets thronging with malnourished thespians. This is the future you seek dare you copy anything!

    And what of the musos children? Oh dear god! Won't someone think of the children?

    And all the industries that rely on music and film. And all the industries that relies on those. And so one.

    By god, copying would destroy Western civilisation as we know it!

    So do not copy. Be a patriot. Support you country! Stand proud! Say "Nay! I shall not give into temptation and steal from my fellow man!" Pay full-price for each item and rejoice in the knowledge that you are saving us all from 'pirates' who are probably no more than trainee kiddy-fiddlers anyway.


  32. Framitz

    Ehh, I get nothin'

    My digital music collection is not a big deal at all, it is ALL replaceable without re-purchasing.

    Literally the least of my worries.

  33. Mike Flugennock

    No shit, Sherlock!

    No shit, Sherlock!

    That is all.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Ohb1knewbie

      Re: No shit, Sherlock!

      That guy Sherlock is the MAN ! No body ever gives him any shit.

  34. Purlieu


    Will someone confirm that the blank media levy in the UK no longer exists ?

    Also the right to make copies "for personal domestic use" ?

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Levy

      AIUI Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom all lack a "blank media levy".

      In the USA personal copies are allowed and this is where the confusion arises. In the UK, however, copying for personal use is illegal (although the various media companies have said they will not pursue anyone). The Digital Economy Act may make it legal in the future, but until such times if you want to obey the strict letter of the law, you must get express permission from the copyright holder to make the copy (or but it again on the different media).

      Citations: Mostly Wikipedia, but even the most basic of web searches will get you some answers.

  35. daveeff

    Obviously Format Shifting Should be OK

    The format it comes in is 1's & 0's - unless I can "format shift" it into moving air & nerve impulses it's no use!!!

    Unless I can transmit it (wirelessly or wired) from my player to my speakers it's also no use.

    Personally I won't buy music unless I can also copy it from my PC to car to phone to player so I can listen to it wherever.

    I only listen to one copy at a time so I can't see I'm breaking MORAL laws - except when my phone goes off when I'm listening to the album I took the ring tone from!

  36. Gareth Perch

    Pay again - as long as there's value added?

    The film industry gets consumers to "double dip" by adding material to a new release or even by releasing it in a new *better quality* format like blu-ray. Unfortunately they'll also hold back "full" versions of films to try to force the double dipping, like with LOTR.

    The home cinema market appears to be of a different generation to the majority of music purchasers. Unfortunately, many of the music buying public, most of which are probably younger than me, seem happy with a (relatively) poor quality MP3, often played at full volume through poor quality mobile phone speakers, further distorting the sound. It's a shame really, when you consider that at that age, your ears are so much better than at mine.

    I only buy a handful of albums a year these days, Britpop was my era and this generation seems to be about RnB, which isn't generally to my taste, although there have been a few with high production values and funky 8bit computer samples in the last few years that I didn't mind so much. The stuff I hear on the radio that I actually like is played often enough that I don't feel the need to buy it.

    I mostly listen to my old losslessly ripped original CD's on my nice hifi at home, losslessly on my old iPhone with decent headphones on the move and new music on the radio at work. I won't pay for anything that's less than CD quality lossless, so when I was looking to buy the Gotye album, I was pleased to find it on their official site (hopefully cutting out as many middle men as is possible these days) in a 24bit digital master copy with JPG / PDF album art, which I bought (my first non-physical paid-for album download and my first at higher than CD quality).

    Perhaps that's one way of adding value to a purchase, particularly for those that appreciate quality - on my setup the difference really is noticeable and more important than printed album art (perhaps the best of both worlds would be to release 24bit albums on a physical medium like blu-ray with album art).

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The price of stupidity

    The price of stupidity and denial is prison.

  38. Tom 13

    Andrew, here's the problem with your suggestion.

    While on the surface, it may seem reasonable because it follows from existing law and past practices, there are entirely too many people like me in the general populace.

    While I despise the freetards who pirate crap even more than the record companies who have raped me for years on the price of music and having to repurchase it when formats shifted or media wore out, that doesn't mean the record companies don't live in the basement of the outhouse as far as I'm concerned. If you are selling me a LICENSE to the music, I damn well expect it to be a full license, with full transferability to any media I choose, and that you are going to provide me with replacement media at the cost of manufacturing the replacement media if it breaks or wears out.

    Unless that happens, they're just another highwayman. Okay, a highwayman with a special dispensation from the government to steal, but theft it remains.

  39. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    How about zero?

    A pound? A fiver? To copy music I've already purchased, all by myself, onto a device I own? How about zero.

    The fact of the matter is, in countries with these royalties regimes, the money doesn't make it to artists -- it either goes to the record companies (who don't distribute it) or with some rights agency (who again doesn't distribute it.) Best case, the top few artists get the money rather than the ones you are actually listening too getting anything. As a bonus, with this type of system your money is pulled straight out of your pocket and sent to the record company if you burn Ubuntu CDs for people, or make local backups -- blank CDs, DVDs, and usually even USB memory sticks are levied under this kind of scheme.

  40. budpowell

    As a songwriter and musician with songs posted globally through many digital distributors, I think that we (the artists) should be compensated for the file transfers. In some instances I have songs on sites that stream music and for those song plays I only get pennies. In other instances I get .49-$1.29 per download. People who purchase the songs get a 1 time download to listen to on whatever device they want. If they want to put it in a cloud, fine put it there in the first place. If they are new to the technology then they should have to purchase it. It's just a form of media change, and you can't put an lp or 8 track in your cd player or your mp3 player (literally). Yes with the right equipment you could transfer and convert the music to a digital file ect. But that is stealing the music and violates the copyright. In today's digital age we are able to drop our change into the guitar case of our favorite artists directly instead of passing a few bills through labels, managers and executives. So what is the big deal in paying the person who actually wrote/performs the music you love? Isn't that both more respectful and honoring to both the musician and the listener. After all didn't all of this come about as a way of representing good music and showing appreciation for it?

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