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How to Free the Music

There’s a mini-flap this week over DRM on pop music CDs. See notes about Coldplay below and at Concurring Opinions, linking to earlier posts elsewhere; Ann Bartow is linking to boycott/girlcott sites.

One of the most interesting things about the problem — consumers being disabled from listening to music that they actually buy and pay for — is that the solution isn’t, necessarily, a copyright solution, and it isn’t necessarily an antitrust solution, or an unfair trade practices solution. We don’t need the big guns. Linking content to media — giving consumers the ability to buy a “‘thing,” not just rights to a download — does more than satisfy some psychological craving for possession of objects. It creates a genuine object for regulation by an otherwise pedestrian body of law — commercial law — that does a pretty good job of protecting consumer interests when it comes to objects. Think less of content, and think more of things. A CD is an Article 2 good, and if it doesn’t work as consumers rightly expect it to work, then there should be an Article 2 remedy.

3 thoughts on “How to Free the Music”

  1. This is striking me as a lot like Stallman’s bane, proprietary operating system and API. Something once sold guts exposed, reverse engineerable and modifiable, starts getting sold encased. We could start selling puppies only embedded in acrylic, but older folks will remember full use puppies with nostalgia, and there’s some risk that their legend will live on.

  2. If you buy an acrylic-covered puppy thinking and expecting that it’s a full-use puppy, I think (as a puppy owner myself) that I have a legitimate beef, not just an affection for nostalgia!

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