Posted by: alok | June 15, 2007

Online Music sharing – what’s the catch?

It’s quite some time since I read Steve Job’s “Thoughts on Music”, and much more time to understand the possible implications of the same. Some of the questions lingering in my mind are:

  • Is online sharing of music (or any media files) a copyright violation?
  • Why is that music companies themselves sell unprotected CDs (without DRM), thereby allowing pirated copies to be made?
  • However, at the same time, they do not miss a chance to sue any company involved in distributing the music online?
  • Do all the ‘dot coms’ of the world who allow you to play music online (streaming) or downloading have obtained the rights from the music companies?
  • Why is that music companies are asking Microsoft and Apple to DRM protect their songs sold on iTunes or Zune, thereby reducing interoperability – but at the same time do not enforce a song ripped on a “Sony” CD be played only on a “Sony” music system and allow it to be played on music systems developed by Samsung or Philips or even all PCs? Imagine a world, where I have to purchase one music system for every different CD label..!!!
  • If I am allowed to copy and play any song on an Apple iPod, what purpose does DRM protected songs on iTunes online music library serve?
  • If I purchase a genuine CD from a music store – I can make innumerable copies of the same on any number of PCs (whether I or my friends or friends’ friends own). So is it a copyright violation, and can I be sued by BMG, Universal, or backhome T-Series, HMV etc.?
  • Or for that matter, if I make copies of the song purchased from a genuine legal channel on my Creative Zen Nano player, my music system, my laptop, my backup hard-disk, my mobile phone – then am I doing some offence?
  • What if my music-player allows me to record songs being broadcasted on FM radio, and I record the same?
  • How is that YouTube (and the likes) allow users to upload any content and not get challenged in the court of law? Just by saying that its “user-generated” and asking the user to click on a check-box saying “You are responsible for any content that you upload” absolve “YouTube’s?
  • If YouTube can be held guilty by providing a medium for sharing music, shouldn’t Xerox be held responsible for developing photo-copier machines to make innumerable copies of printed books, or for that matter can we held Microsoft responsible for providing ‘Ctrl-C’, ‘Ctrl-V’ feature, or can we hold HP, Samsung, LG etc. to develop CD-writers ?
  • If Mr. Jobs himself thinks that only 3% of the songs stored on iPods are genuine purchased from iTunes store – so is his company responsible for encouraging piracy?
  • Not long ago, Napsters, Kaza, Torrents were sued millions of dollars for PTP music sharing – so how come in the Web 2.0 era the so-called “user-generated” content has escaped the radar?

Can anyone with some knowledge of intricacies of the vagaries of copyright and music piracy enlighten me by providing the answers to the above?



  1. I must say, pertinent and thought-provoking question!! Good to see you back:)

  2. Hey, you should write more often….I used to follow your blog some time back….but then you slowed down a lot…

  3. Don’t have much idea about the question but i must say you and your blogging motivated me for blogging. Try to visit mine if get time…:)

  4. Don’t have much idea about the question but i ( must say you and your blogging motivated me for blogging. Try to visit mine if get time…:)

  5. Alok, it seems you have been motivator for most of us. We are dying to hear more from you.

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