If you want to buy music, buying a CD is a good way of doing it. There’s no
risk that some computer error will destroy your purchase, and it’s easy to transfer
the songs onto your computer and iPod. Many people, I suspect, are like myself:
I do buy CDs, but I never play them on a CD player. Instead, the CD gets ripped
straight into iTunes and then stored in a dark corner somewhere in case of emergency.
Which, according to Sony BMG’s head of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, makes
me a thief. Here’s what she said testifying in court, in the case Capitol
Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas:
"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 just "a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’," she said.
This kind of absolutism can’t help but backfire on Sony, and not only because
Sony itself makes any number of computers and music players which try to make
exactly this kind of "stealing" as easy as possible. Pariser is essentially
saying that anybody with an MP3 player is a thief – and people with MP3
players, of course, are the heart of Sony BMG’s customer base. If a company
continues to insult its customers like this, it’s unlikely to do very well.
On the other hand, this is clearly a very fruitful line of thinking for the
likes of the IPI
to explore. Work out how many songs are ripped from CDs every year, and then
come up with a percentage of those songs which would otherwise have been bought
on iTunes if no-one ripped CDs or downloaded music illegally. Presto –
even more spurious "losses" for the music industry to moan to Congress