Skip to content

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.