Deutsche Grammophon launches giant, DRM-free classical music store

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46 Responses to “Deutsche Grammophon launches giant, DRM-free classical music store”

  1. Gerry Shy says:

    McDonald’s bags (with or without trademarked logos) are not in themselves works capable of copyright protection. Comparing these purchases is meaningless.

    Whether you bought a wax cylinder or a download, you haven’t ever “bought the copyright”.

    Some works in which copyright subsists – such as the performances encapsulated on wax cylinders and live theatrical performances – were/are pretty hard for the end user to copy and/or sell on. For others – such as digital downloads – it is marvellous easy to do so without any loss of the original experience. Just because the second of these may apply doesn’t in itself call for the right to copy and associated rights to pass to the end user.

    Yes, the labels have tended to make a dreadful hash of releasing all the benefits of recent technology. But asserting that those benefits should – as a consumer right – include the passing of the actual copyright when this has never previously been the case and when the full intended enjoyment of the work is available to you more cheaply and conveniently than it has ever before been seems a little, well, excessive.

  2. Profetik86 says:

    I thought UMG’s Doug Morris considered all of us iPod owners thieves…At any rate, they’re at least taking a position I can agree with in terms of music store DRM: it needn’t be there.

  3. bcrowell says:

    Svein Olav Nyberg @19:

    “You don’t need a system. Just a user login. As for companies going out of business, we’re talking mainly major players like DG, Amazon, etc here.”
    The biggest issue is the one you didn’t respond to: the short lifetimes of these digital music programs. I’m also not convinced that big record labels are good bets for survival 20, or even 10, years into the future, and I don’t want to restrict all my music buying to big labels.

    “But maybe an overhaul of (C) law is needed: To own the copyright means to be able to provide such back-ups. Once you are unable to provide a back-up, the work shall be considered Public Domain.”
    Copyright law already provides for backups and resale. The problem is that the license trumps the general provisions of copyright law.

    “Anyway, the potential loss of my ability to resell is a minor, minor price to pay for freeing up culture.”
    I think you’ve got it backwards. We used to have a freer culture with LPs and CDs; there was no drm, no licensing to restrict backups, and no licensing to restrict resale. If you’re talking about “free culture” in the sense of the free culture movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Culture_movement) , then that’s a million miles away from anything that any major record label has ever contemplated.

  4. rlkeith says:

    I can’t work out where the value is. Your post prompted me to actually look at the site where I have never before contemplated paying actual money for inferior distorted recordings.

    I suppose it is worth it as a convenience in place of getting a decent sound out of old vinyl or finding something much loved but unavailable.

    I am probably too old to get why anyone would expect me to pay 12 Euros for something when I can get it for $12 on Amazon or at my local shop for a few bucks more if I really want it today.

    Rob

  5. Chloramphenicol says:

    I was pretty excited about this… until I tried to use it. Yes, the flash is obnoxious, and the pricing scheme is strange, but I can live with those. What’s bothering me about it is how difficult it is to actually download a track once you’ve bought it.

    I don’t know if their servers can’t handle the load or what, but I’ve been trying to download my tracks for a couple of hours with no success. Each track will get from somewhere between 30-40% finished and then lock up. And that’s assuming that I can even open the download page! Half of the time when I try to open one of the links to dg.freshdigital.co.uk (basically all of the download/help pages), it opens a blank window and then sits there doing nothing.

    I want to use this service. I really do. But if they can’t get these issues resolved, I won’t be. After all, it’s sort of important that you be able to at least get the media you’ve paid for.

  6. Roy Blake says:

    This discussion reminds me of my old grammar teacher and the distinction between Can and May. DG says you MAY not share the music but of course people CAN and will. They must know that, the EULA is just a sop to the DRM diehards in the industry. This idea is likely to make money in any case. Once you get outside big cities, classical music is very hard to find. (It’s also hard to find on BitTorrent.) I and many others would be quite willing to pay for the convenience of good-quality, available music, without having to drive for hours or put up with the wait, inconvenience and shipping charges of mail-order.

  7. M says:

    @ Svein Olav Nyberg:
    Everything I’ve downloaded recently from E-Music appears to be 320-floating, or close to it.

  8. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    @24BCROWELL

    Which digital music programs are you talking about? If you go to, say, Amazon, all they need to do is to keep track of what you’ve bought. That’s your list of re-downloadables. No software fads involved. So it’s up to how long Amazon (or DG, or whoever) survives — which is what you seem to have a beef with.

    Which is why I suggested an amendment to copyright law, and –to add that now– also that this law be proscriptive, i.e. that your rights in regards to copyright cannot be abrogated by agreements, whether shrink-wrap or real ones.

  9. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    @26 Roy Blake:

    I don’t make use of them, but even I know of filesharing services with hoards of classical material, both BitTorrent and otherwise. So DG is not filling a hole per se in that way, but they are filling a hole for legal downloads of that kind.

  10. mikelotus says:

    Why are they not offering in a lossless format? If they want my money, they will. This is suppose to be a company that sells for the audiophile, not for ipods.

  11. Vicki says:

    Svein @ 19: That DG is a large company doesn’t guarantee they won’t go out of business. (Every time I look up Park Avenue, there’s the Pan Am Building, with an insurance company’s logo displayed at the top.) It certainly doesn’t guarantee that they’ll offer this particular form of music sales forever.

    If a company decides that a line of business isn’t [adequately] profitable for them, they’re also likely to decide that it’s not worth continuing to maintain servers that supported that line of business. That’s especially likely if the customers aren’t paying anything for continued use of the servers. But a DRM call-home system leaves the customer without a product if the servers vanish. I’d be astonished if there were, anywhere, a contract under which such a vendor agreed to reimburse customers even a portion of their purchase price if the removal of support made the product worthless. (Such a promise would, in any case, only relevant if the company stays in business; you can’t enforce a contract against a nonexistent entity.)

  12. Chris S says:

    For all those who want lossless formats, I sympathize. The growth of cheap storage means that you can get all the space you need at a price you can afford. And, yes, classical music is targetted at audiophiles, not iPods. But there’s a caution there – it’s targetted, not aimed exclusively.

    I just did a quick survey, and as far as I can tell, only the computers in my house could handle lossless formats. That’s not a place I do much listening. The car, the portable CD, the iPod, the DVD players — all of these are reasonably priced devices that can handle MP3. In some cases, they can’t even handle plain uncompressed files unless they are audio CDs.

    I get the impression that although there is a notable market for lossless tracks, it’s not enough to trigger the creation of a service in addition to high-rate MP3s. The high-rate MP3s must be there, because MP3 is the de facto standard. Offering any additional format is a risk, because it raises the chance the consumer can buy “the wrong one”.

    I think this sounds like a good service. If you want to wait for lossless, go ahead. But I think you’re going to be the one suffering the most. I also think that the lossless market, although notable, is not in absolute terms big enough to block the success of a service like this — it’s going to succeed or fail independent of what the lossless fans do.

  13. bluefin says:

    For some non DRM lossless classical music, Czech Radio is offering free downloads of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in FLAC (and MP3)

    http://www.rozhlas.cz/d-dur/download_eng

  14. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    @30 MIKELOTUS: Why not do what two of us have already done (read above): send them an email?

    @31 VICKI: Well, DG’s downloads are DRM free. I think we all agree on the evilness of DRM, and that’s why it was such good news that DG had moved part of the way and offered DRM-free downloads. But the thread below here is mainly about the bad news.

    The bad news were:
    1. It’s not lossless
    2. The “agreement” restricts your copying rights
    3. It’s hard to resell downloads.

    Well, I don’t mind (3) at all, but as you can read above, some do. I merely suggested a model (and possible law amendment) that the seller or copyright holder be obligated to leave you ownership of a right to donload the album over again, and that this is the right that may be transferred upon reselling. That solves the problem of multiplicating full ownership when you make a file copy, AND it is an extra service to the customer which might inspire purchasing instead of p2p-ing.

    And nowhere in this suggestion did I even halfway endorse any DRM model. A right to re-download is not a restriction on playing or on copying.

  15. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    @30 MIKELOTUS: Why not do what two of us have already done (read above): send them an email?

    @31 VICKI: Well, DG’s downloads are DRM free. I think we all agree on the evilness of DRM, and that’s why it was such good news that DG had moved part of the way and offered DRM-free downloads. But the thread below here is mainly about the bad news.

    The bad news were:
    1. It’s not lossless
    2. The “agreement” restricts your copying rights
    3. It’s hard to resell downloads.

    Well, I don’t mind (3) at all, but as you can read above, some do. I merely suggested a model (and possible law amendment) that the seller or copyright holder be obligated to leave you ownership of a right to donload the album over again, and that this is the right that may be transferred upon reselling. That solves the problem of multiplicating full ownership when you make a file copy, AND it is an extra service to the customer which might inspire purchasing instead of p2p-ing.

    And nowhere in this suggestion did I even halfway endorse any DRM model. A right to re-download is not a restriction on playing or on copying.

  16. Cory Doctorow says:

    Gerry Shy@22

    Indeed, McDonald’s bags are copyrightable, but you’re missing the point.

    Copyright *does not* govern what you do with your purchases after you buy them — copyright law includes the doctrine of exhaustion, also called first sale.

    The doctrine of exhaustion states that when a copyrighted good is sold (and per clause i of the “agreement” that DG uses, this is a sale, not a license), the purchaser has the right to sell it, loan it, or give it away.

    Whether or not you acquire the underlying copyright is irrelevant. Copyright law explicitly guarantees purchasers of copies of copyrighted works these rights.

    DG’s “agreement” is nothing less than a unilateral rewriting of copyright law, to the substantial benefit of DG and the substantial detriment of its customers. It is almost certainly illegal, and it’s definitely sleazy.

  17. Cory Doctorow says:

    And let’s not forget — the most likely reason for DG’s use of the term “purchase” in the “agreement” is that purchases only pay a 7% royalty to performers, while licenses pay 50%.

    DG wants to bind you to licensing terms, but they want a to give the artists who performed the music one seventh of the money coming to them.

  18. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    I neer knew that before, Cory, that when I buy a $14 CD, only $1 goes to the artist. Do you have any references for this? Do all media companies pay the artist a measly 1/14?

  19. veto says:

    greetings from germany,

    no offense but i find it to be rather amazing how you swell in the discussion of these terms of copyright not having put i single thought towards the fact that germany might have their own copyright laws, which possibly slightly differ from the US nonsense.

    What you read there is nothing but the translated version of the usual terms of copyright printed to every movie/music destribution medium you may purchase. and its been like that for decades. So far i have not met any german at all, who was unhappy with our copyright laws.
    you buy that (cd, mp3) and its yours, which does for my understanding not include the right to freely copy thus re-distribute the content of it nor may you display it on public gatherings. that for, e.g me being a teacher, i may not by law freely use that music cd in my lessons. that would require a special license. you may by law supirior to copyright law resell that very cd. once. obviously you wont have it once you sold it once. to make it more clear. what you yourself purchase is the medium, the raw cd itself. you may however make a private copy under our copyright law for your personal use (and possibly pass it over to some close relative) or better preservation, e.g. meaning you dont want to take your original CD to the beach on holidays since it might scratch.
    as long as you have bought the original medium (e.g. CD) and still own that piece of plastic you may have its content for your personal use in any form (tape, cd-rw, mp3, tabs, text…). if its stored on your computer, lets say in your share folder of your p2p tool, you breach the law.
    being able to share good music without a thought with close friends (forget your copied cd at their place after you were listening to it there) is just one reason for our german law to be quite acceptable.

    The US may try to kidnap someone from foreign contries considering this to be lawful, they will still get into huge trouble for that. Its not exactly positive foreign politics. (which the US is of course well known for. *sigh)
    But since DG is a german company, propably located in germany, thus operating under german law, german copyright law in particular, these terms are what they would want to attach and what they may attach to their EULA. and not the US criminalisation laws. oh, that was supposed to say copyright laws.

    of course the big 4 are constantly trying, excuse me, to bribe our (as they do with those of many other countries) politicans in changing our copyright law towards a more US way. little has changed so far, yet much has to be feared.

    for me personally these terms have been well acceptable over the last decades, still are, and as long as they dont change negativly will be for a long time in the future.

    good time,
    a veto from germany.

  20. Cory Doctorow says:

    Veto, I’m very familiar with German copyright law, having been a delegate to the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization, and having worked on the pan-European Digital Video Broadcasters DRM standard. Germany’s copyright law complies with the Europe-wide EUCD, which also includes the doctrine of exhaustion.

  21. joaquin says:

    Why do you consider basic copyright a mess? I’m certainly happy to see the music labels moving away from DRM, but are you expecting a for-profit company to release their content completely free with zero restrictions?

    You have to look at things from their perspective. LOTS of people are stealing music all the time with no hesitation or guilt. And will continue doing so. It’s not unreasonable for them to have the standard and unobtrusive copyright laws in place.

  22. yohthere says:

    Just sent this mail to DDG:

    I congratulate DGG with the new website, enabling us classical music lovers to finally purchase music in a format playable in my car or portable player. Thank you far making this bold and much needed step.

    That being said it is beyond me why I, as a European citizen, would have to pay aprx 50% more for the same, worldwide available track than i.e. a US citizen. This will again, after the coplete failure of DRM, enstrange your customers.

    Me, I would be inclined to have a friend make my purchases, pay him with paypal and send me the downloaded tracks. And of course being honest people, not wanting to rip off record companies, especially as they provide us with beautiful classical music, he would not retain a copy for himself wouldn’t he? Well. Anyway.

    I did register, I did want to buy a specific CD, the price is not unreasonable, even in Euro’s, but I won’t take this insane approach. Please delete my account jmeijer@notice.nu. And please let me know when this, excusemy choice of words, insane policy has changed, I would love to start buying at DGG.

    With kind regards,

  23. acipolone says:

    ‘Bout time classical music was given props on a BB front page.

    More than most “popular” music, classical music has always been more prone to DRM-free status than anything else. Back in the day it was common for a composer to borrow themes and ideas from other composers, typically viewed in a respectful manner. Today, any form of borrowing (often read to mean “stealing”) is seen in such a negative light and often brings down the wrath of the copyright Nazi’s. (The sole fact that something as simple as “Happy Birthday” can demand royalties is just totally absurd.)

    I’m surprised DG beat Naxos to to the punch — if anyone, I expected Naxos to be doing this before others.

    In that light, I’ve often wanted to label my compositions under CC — is there some type of CC license that I should consider over any others?

  24. andrew says:

    I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this to happen to my favouritest label of all time. I live in Singapore and just bought five years worth of music I wanted but couldn’t buy (out of stock, not in production etc.)

    It’s already a giant step forward for them to sell without DRM, and actually that’s all I want as a consumer.

  25. Cory Doctorow says:

    Joaquin@1 — I’m *endorsing* basic copyright here. It’s DG that’s taking it away.

    Basic copyright 101: Once you purchase a copyrighted work, that purchase is yours. By the doctrine of exhaustion (sometimes called “First Sale”), you acquire, in the purchase, the right to re-sell, loan, or give away the copyrighted work you bought. Hence used book and record stores, libraries, and the book you loaned to your buddy last week. This is what copyright law says.

    This IS basic copyright.

    DG is saying, “We don’t want to employ basic copyright. Even though this is a ‘purchase’ (per clause i), we demand that you treat it as a ‘license’ in which we unilaterally change copyright law so that first sale/exhaustion no longer apply.”

    At a guess, I’d say that the reason that this is being described as a purchase in clause i is so they can keep the royalties they pay to their performers down at seven percent (the standard royalty on purchases) instead of the fifty percent they’d have to pay for a license.

    IOW: DG is undermining copyright AND cheating its artists by attaching license-like terms to what they themselves admit is a sale.

    It takes more than a EULA to turn a sale into a license. Say your take-away bag from McDonald’s had the terms attached to it, “Purchasers of this food must not share it with their families, may not give it to a homeless person, and may not throw it away except in McDonald’s approved garbage bins.” Would buying an Egg McMuffin constitute an agreement to honor those terms?

    And if so, why stop there? Why not “By buying this burger, you agree to vote Republican, eschew Burger King, and only drive Chevy vehicles, forever.”

    Sales are sales. Slapping a sticker on the sale that announces all the things you “agree” to by handing over your money doesn’t mean that you’ve actually agreed to them.

  26. Crash says:

    Cory, I appreciate your argument regarding the doctrine of first sale here, but as an alternative to your interpretation, it’s also possible that some junior lawyer’s assistant just put in the word “redistribute” when translating from BMG’s instructions in German, meaning “duplicate and give away” without fully thinking through the ramifications.

    It raises an interesting question to me, though: if you were to purchase a track from this store, then decided you wanted to give it to a friend, would you delete it from your own drive afterwards?

  27. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    Crash, may I answer you? I just sent DG an email suggesting they upgrade their formats to lossless or better, and giving them a link this this post. Why don’t you –if you think the restriction Cory describes is a mere clerical error– point out that clerical error to them and see what happens? If they alter the text, it was a clerical error. If they don’t, it’s intentional and Cory’s worries are well justified.

    deutschegrammophon@deutschegrammophon.com

    I for my own part would like to buy from them, BUT will wait until they offer lossless and at standard copyright with no further restrictions. If they can’t, I might as well buy CDs … which I am kind of slow to do since I hate the cumbersomeness of the physical medium; I have to store it away in the attic after ripping it anyway.

  28. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    Crash, may I answer you? I just sent DG an email suggesting they upgrade their formats to lossless or better, and giving them a link this this post. Why don’t you –if you think the restriction Cory describes is a mere clerical error– point out that clerical error to them and see what happens? If they alter the text, it was a clerical error. If they don’t, it’s intentional and Cory’s worries are well justified.

    deutschegrammophon@deutschegrammophon.com

    I for my own part would like to buy from them, BUT will wait until they offer lossless and at standard copyright with no further restrictions. If they can’t, I might as well buy CDs … which I am kind of slow to do since I hate the cumbersomeness of the physical medium; I have to store it away in the attic after ripping it anyway.

  29. Steven E. McDonald says:

    While I generally pick up classical music from eMusic (which is still one of the better deals around, even now), DG does have one of the best all-time catalogues of classical music. I’ve taken a look at the store, and it does make things moderately easy in terms of purchase and download, and you get a free track when signing up for the newsletter (no restrictions, apparently; I picked up a track priced at $3.69 without a hitch.) Prices are slightly higher – $1.29 and up, albums at $11.99 (multiple-disc selections per CD.)

    The biggest issue for me is the use of Flash left and right, and navigation that’s stultifying to say the least, especially when one would rather explore beyond the warhorses and the popular performers, orchestras and conductors. Payment options are limited to Visa and Mastercard from what I can see.

    I’ll keep it in mind, though. High bit-rates and lack of DRM are big pluses. Given that this is a Universal product, it’s surprisingly skewed towards the decent edge.

    What I’d like to see crop up now, though, is a store that services the soundtrack nuts like me. There’s a lot of rare, unreleased, and boutique-release material that would probably do well released through a digital music store. Mind you, it would probably piss off a lot of dealers who like their $300 score CD sales….

    Moving away from that, there’s so much music out there that’s crying for a release and not getting it — things that would generate revenue even in small amounts if released through digital download stores. All it would take is record companies saying, en masse, the hell with DRM and worrying about piracy.

  30. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    @43 Chris S. iPods can play lossless, and not just MP3. True, it doesn’t play the specific lossless format known as FLAC unless you hack it a little bit, but iPods do play lossless.

    As far as waiting is concerned: I heard a beautiful album on the radio the other day, by an ensemble from my home country, Nordic Voices, so I decided to look up the album. Well, seems they’re signed up with Chandos, a decently larger player, and Chandos has a digital music store without DRM but with lossless format.

    Their copyright terms look like this:

    http://www.theclassicalshop.net/HelpFaqAnswers.asp?question=16

    Question
    16 What is the copyright on the MP3s I download from you?

    Answer
    The copyright of these sound recordings belongs to Chandos Records Ltd. They are intended strictly for personal use. Any unauthorised reproduction, posting or copying, commercial or otherwise, of any kind without the prior and specific permission of Chandos is prohibited by international law.

    Chandos does not use any Digital Rights Management (DRM) encoding to protect its music from illegal file sharing. Your agreement with Chandos Records Ltd on the purchase of an MP3 is that it is for personal use only and not for further distribution. DRM would allow for only one copy to be made and any further copies would be ‘digitally spoilt’, but this would not allow for copies for the car, for example, to be made. The only protection that Chandos wishes to use is the conscience of the purchaser.

  31. Gerry Shy says:

    I am sure there’s a Professor of Business Affairs at Hamburger University who would agree with you but not many courts would support the view that a McDonalds bag is capable of copyright protection. The logo as a distinct element, sure. Some incredible way of folding the structure which would be recognised as an original industrial design in certain jurisdictions, OK. But the bag itself and the way it performs its primary purpose (holding stuff), no.

    Very few would dispute that a musical performance, live or recorded, is capable of copyright protection.

    DG are in the business of acquiring and exploiting copyrights. They acquire ownership of some rights, licences of others. They sell at a market-tested rate something which people like to use and which is substantially subject to copyright. Treating that sale in some aspects as an absolute sale and in others as a licence doesn’t involve changing any laws, it merely involves informing the customer which aspects are appropriate under what conditions. (Dare I say that McDonalds don’t claim any control over what you do with their bag but they no doubt do over how you might you use the logo on it – pasting onto the bags you sell at your own burger joint being an example of something they might reasonably object to? I guess I do).

    The free market in which DG, its competitors and those who contribute the copyrighted works operate does so in such a way as to have settled on a royalty in the region of 7% to the creator of the work (with lots of variables in either direction). Those artists (and managers and lawyers) who feel that they are unhappy with either this royalty or the extent of freedom granted the end users of their work are, of course, free to buy some Xserves, a chunk of bandwidth, some web design services, a back office suite, take on Product and Employee Liabilities (and a few others), put up posters, mail some critics and license their customers as widely as they wish. And take a 50% royalty or more. Some do, in fact.

    Maybe DG could grant wider uses under their terms of sale. But they’d be taking a risk, particularly with people running around IP conferences saying that licences are theft and buying a copy of a copyrighted work should, in effect, let them put © followed by their name all over it. So they tend to err on the safe side, not disrupting the existing foundation of their modus operandi in underlying terms whilst still releasing the key benefits of new technologies to their customers. This means their customers get the principle use of the product they seek at a reasonable cost and greater speed and convenience than before. Want to do more? Get a licence – though what with the higher royalty they tend to cost a lot more. Or buy a burger. You can do what you want with them, anything at all.

  32. Alex says:

    Acipolone: IIRC, Naxos has had its entire catalog available DRM-free on eMusic for some time now.

  33. Elrhiarhodan says:

    I actually got excited here – a new venue for classical music on line. Then I looked at the site. I can deal with the Flash all over the place, but the search tools are horrendous – or should I say, non-existent. If I want to find an artist, I have to scroll through the list, same with performer. How about being able to search by catalog number (e.g. BWV, Kochel), or how about genre?

    There is nothing compelling here – eMusic has a much greater breadth and depth, particularly with the Naxos catalog. eMusic’s also much cheaper. I don’t understand DG’s pricing – is it based on the duration of the track? That’s just plain silly – why not a fixed price per album or set. I know that iTunes is the great evil, here in Cory-land, but there is certainly something to be said for $0.99 per track.

  34. MichaelH says:

    I think the copyright comment is a basic problem with copyright in a digital age.

    With copyright as it stands now you *do* have the right to re-sell things you’ve bought but those things were clasically tangible assets and physical possession passed from one person to another.

    With digital works there’s no physical transfer and nothing keeping you from deleting your copy once you’ve received money for it.

    Until there’s a way to enforce the transfer of goods I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect content producers to allow you to re-sell what you’ve bought.

  35. ill lich says:

    Wait. . . isn’t the notion of compressed MP3 audio anathema to the sensibilities of the hardcore classical enthusiast?

  36. Jake says:

    Anybody else notice that if you tell the site that you’re in the US, you get an $11.99 album price, but that if you tell the site you are in Europe, you get an 11.99 euros album price? I haven’t actually tried to buy anything, but that seems like a pretty unfair price difference for Euro-based countries.

  37. viator22 says:

    Cory, I believe the “redistribute” problem comes about because because in order to sell, loan, or give away the files, you’d have to make copies of them. Anytime you send them by email or move them from one medium to the other, they are technically “copied” – and deleting the original doesn’t negate the copying. It would be like photocopying a book and then shredding your original – the copying is still a violation.

    So it seems to me they are being honest when they say you just have to follow basic copywright law. At least that’s my understanding of U.S. copyright law.

  38. Church says:

    Cory, I’ll trade you a ii for a iii.

  39. themindfantastic says:

    I will have to agree with Steven E McDonald, this is more towards the ‘decent’ edge as opposed to the “by Agreeing to these terms, we get to eat your babies” type nastiness. It could be in part a translation problem, but also there is the obvious case of making a copy and deleting the original is the only way to duplicate taking a vinyl record and selling it pre-digital times. The DG Catalog has admittedly some of the best works ever put to a recording medium, a lot of them woefully out of print for quite sometime, having access to them without DRM and high bitrates, is a serious stride into the good books for most people… but as it always is there are those people who always worry someone is going to do something perfectly natural with music like share it with a friend, and lawyers seem to overly cautious with their wording not understanding how sometimes these clauses are unenforceable and just look stupid.

  40. bcrowell says:

    I would love to find a survey of the various places that you can buy digital music these days. I’ve tried amazon (bought an old out of print classical recording that I remembered from my childhood). One problem with amazon for me is that they require you to download a special program to buy full albums, and they don’t have a linux version out yet. It seems like there are a ton of small labels doing this. It’s not a trivial task to check out all these different companies and figure out the relevant facts: DRM, license, price, linux support …

    So far, the most practical method in most cases still seems to be buying a physical CD. It’s DRM-free, and you have a physical object, so you don’t need to worry about backing it up. I am, however, thinking about copying all my CDs onto a hard disk and then storing the originals on spindles or something, because they take up a lot of space. To me, the killer app for digital downloads is the long tails of the distribution, like that old classical record I bought for nostalgia’s sake.

    The other thing that’s a total hassle is my big long shelf full of old LPs. My turntable died, then I bought another one on ebay, and then that one died. I’ve tried transferring them to digital, and it’s extremely time-consuming.

  41. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    The issue of ownership could be resolved this way:

    When you buy an album (or single tune) from a music seller, you also buy the right to re-download that same album or tune as many times as you like, thus saving you worries about back-up. That kind of ownership does not get transferred by simply copying the files.

    As for eMusic, they offer no more than 192kbit MP3, so Iäll pass on that one. FLAC, nothing less.

    As for sellers, I can contribute one to the list of music file sellers who offers decent bitrate:

    http://www.linnrecords.com/linn-about-us.aspx

  42. bcrowell says:

    @16: “When you buy an album (or single tune) from a music seller, you also buy the right to re-download that same album or tune as many times as you like, thus saving you worries about back-up.”

    One problem with a scheme like that is that music companies go out of business, and even if the company you bought from stays in business, the whole digital download thing is in a state of flux. Any program they’re offering in 2007 will almost certainly no longer exist in 2010, and your re-download rights would be totally useless.

    Another problem is that nobody wants to have eleven different systems for storing, playing, and backing up their music. I don’t want to have a different system for every record label I buy from.

    And finally, it’s not just about backups, it’s also about resale. If I get tired of a particular CD, I can sell it to someone else. I don’t see the motivation to buy music in a format that takes away my ability to do the things I could do if I bought it on CD.

    There’s the objection that if you were allowed to resell digital music, without DRM, then people would just sell hundreds of copies of their original, without deleting their original. Well, you can already do essentially the same thing with CDs. For instance, you can copy the CD onto your hard disk, then sell the CD.

  43. ankh says:

    Great thread. Thanks for the email.

    I emailed asking if I can buy music, write it to a CD and give that as a gift, NOT keeping a copy myself. This is perfect for holiday gifts if OK.

    Also of course asked about lossless recording.

    And pointed them here saying no need to answer me personally, I’ll watch for clarification in public.

  44. Svein Olav Nyberg says:

    You don’t need a system. Just a user login. As for companies going out of business, we’re talking mainly major players like DG, Amazon, etc here.

    But maybe an overhaul of (C) law is needed: To own the copyright means to be able to provide such back-ups. Once you are unable to provide a back-up, the work shall be considered Public Domain.

    As for reselling … if you can’t resell your re-download rights once the work goes publicdomain (i.e. copyright owner can no longer support re-download rights), I don’t see the BIG problem. CDs become scratched and non-resellable, as do LPs. For files, entropy does not work on the file itself but in the business domain.

    Anyway, the potential loss of my ability to resell is a minor, minor price to pay for freeing up culture.

  45. jphilby says:

    This is a win for the community of classical music lovers. Digital distribution benefits it more than other genres. Classical has always been difficult and expensive for record companies to produce and distribute. Most brick-and-mortar stores never could or would stock a good selection. 10 minutes (or an hour) beats 10-day (or 10-week!) special orders anyday.

    How many newcomers to classical can afford $50-75 seats for a single performance in today’s risk-free concert halls? DG’s catalog of major quality performances goes way back. If this works, other companies will follow. Bravo to DG for this big, if belated, move.

  46. Blue says:

    to MichaelH [re#10 - With copyright as it stands now you *do* have the right to re-sell things you've bought but those things were clasically tangible assets and physical possession passed from one person to another.

    With digital works there's no physical transfer and nothing keeping you from [not] deleting your copy once you’ve received money for it.]

    You can copy the data from a CD and sell the CD. You could sell an MP3 and NOT delete the ‘original’ copy you bought.

    There’s no REAL EFFECTIVE difference that would constitute the necessity of a special NO RESALE value for digital downloads.

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