Wondering about torrenting…

I am sure that there is someone out there with sufficient legal knowledge who can answer this: when you buy an album (record, cd, tape Blu-Ray whatever)… what do you actually buy?

Do you buy a physical product or do you buy the right to enjoy a non-physical product (meaning: the music)? In most countries, you are allowed to make a back-up copy of a cd that you bought. In the old days, this would have meant that you would copy your vinyl album to a tape. Which was great, because that meant you could listen to it in your car. Hurray!

(il)legal copying
pirate-bay-logoWith modern CD’s for the majority of us, with insufficient technological knowledge, it’s been made useless (if not: virtually impossible) to make a back-up copy. Sure, you can still copy from CD to tape (if you can find a device that still plays tapes), but you cannot copy from CD to computer, other CD or mp3 player unless you apparently break some law or other. And of course, you’ll have to buy a CD that hasn’t been protected. Anyway;
If you buy a CD, is it then still illegal to download a mp3 version of that same album for your iPod or laptop? I’m guessing it is, but I can’t figure out the logic behind this.

Two’s company
There are only two reasons I can think of and both seem ridiculous.

1. you do not buy the right to enjoy the music. You only buy the right to play the carrier. Why would this be ridiculous? Well, if you have a nail and a wall you would like to drive the nail into, but you do not own a hammer… it would be illegal for you to borrow a hammer from your neighbour.

2. You are not allowed to download a mp3 version of an album you legally bought, because this would make it too easy for other people to illegally download that product as well. In this case, even though it is generally agreed that you are in fact not doing anything wrong, but your actions coud potentially make it easier for someone else to do something illegal. For which you are then punished. This would be even worse than Tom Cruise in Minority Report (which, admitted, wasn’t a bad film at all….)

The proof of the album is in the downloading
If you are still with me, I think it is safe to assume that you do not find this subject boring. The reason why these questions could be interesting is because it may be interesting to know what record companies actually do, now that the actual record has become obsolete. Artists can record, produce and distribute from the comfort of their own coffeeshop with the help of nothing more than a laptop computer and internet connection. Why do we need record companies at all? Because they provide something called ‘marketing’ to their ‘product’ ? And for that,  do they deserve to get the majority of all the revenue? I think most of us will agree that the artist that made that lovely music, deserves to make a buck off it. But you just may feel differently about the guy in a suit on the top floor om some office building.

As I remember shouting along at a Biohazard concert, somewhere around 1995: “Music for you and me, not the fucking industry…


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