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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Copyright Scam

Alex Malik is right to point out the imbalance in power under our present copyright arrangements (The Age, 16/5). It stems from a deliberate conceptual confusion about purchasing content. Naively, we may think we're buying a CD or DVD (the physical object). But we're not, since we're subject to restrictions about what we can do with that object (eg rent it, broadcast it, put it in a CD copying machine).

No, we're buying a license to use the content, with the CD as just a token. But here's an experiment: cut your favourite CD in half and send both halves to the publisher, requesting a replacement. While a blank CD and postage stamp should cost about $1, you'll be told to buy another copy. But wait - haven't you been "licensed" to use the content? Isn't the broken CD proof of this license? After all, other tokens like a $50 note or a yearly MetCard will be replaced if you send in both halves.

The copyright owners are having their cake and eating it too. Their business model is to ensure that we keep buying Abbey Road every five years, for perpetuity.



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