I can see no benefits to treating your regular customers like they are criminals, but I’m not in the music industry, where that seems to be a standard practice.
I bought some CDs from Amazon and they arrived today.
I tried to open them so I could play them.
Five full minutes, a pair of scissors, and a sharp knife later, I was ready to give up on getting the last one open before it finally relented and I could remove the shrinkwrap and get started on that sticky tape that keeps the jewel case closed and sticks persistently to your fingers when you try to throw it away. I honestly don’t know how people with arthritis or disabilities get these things opened.
At the end of my ordeal, I was no longer excited about playing the music. I was too tired to put the CDs into a CD player, let alone rip songs into iTunes to put on my iPod.
However, that might be the purpose of the shrinkwrap obstacle course. In Good Morning Silicon Valley last week, Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, was quoted as saying:

“When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song. [Making a copy of a purchased song is] a nice way of saying ’steals just one copy’.”

The music industry, like many others, is at a crossroads. Improving the experience for regular customers has to be part of the right path, doesn’t it? Music is especially interesting because people who listen to a lot of music and like music, recommend it to their friends and others, resulting in more sales, larger concert attendance, et al. Word of mouth is a huge thing for bands.
Yet, rather tha making it even easier to listen to music and talk about it and recommend it, the music industry does things like raise questions whether copying music you already own is “stealing.”
Since two of the CDs are from Sony’s labels, I’ll now have to determine whether ripping to iTunes is “stealing just one copy” or whether it’s part of what I got when I bought the CD. I’m wondering if playing the CD in my car and at home will also be seen as a way of “stealing just one copy.” Maybe I’ll just play the CDs on Sony CD players, that should be a safe harbor, I would hope.
Sony also got a “thumbs down” on its approach to DRM on Movie DVDs in the post “Paying Customers Are the Enemy” on the Technology Liberation Front blog (hmm, notice a common theme). The money quote:

It’s worth keeping in mind that only the legitimate customers have to jump through these kinds of hoops. If you’re stupid enough to follow the rules and pay hard-earned cash for your movies, Hollywood rewards you by making you spend a relaxing evening learning how to update your movie player’s firmware. People who break the law and get their movies via a P2P network don’t have to worry about these sorts of headaches, as those files tend to come pre-cracked and in an open format playable on any device.

As many have said before, the entertainment industry needs to focus on ways to make it simpler and easier to comply with legal requirements than it is not to comply with them. Unfortunately, suggesting that making copies for your own use is “stealing” is not a step in that direction.
Update: Check out Ian’ Rogers’ presentation Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses and Content vs. Context, a Presentation for Some Music Industry Friends.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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