Copywrong

Yes Steve Hillage The Eagles Gong
Bishi Christy Moore Kraftwerk

What do these artists and groups have in common? Not much – except that I like their music, and that in each case I first heard them through illegal copies, or videos posted illegally on YouTube or elsewhere. I now (legally) own at least one album by each of them, and have seen one of them live (twice). There are also, of course, artists whose albums I haven’t bought after listening to bootlegs, but then or I probably wouldn’t have anyway (or the albums were no longer available).

The video and music and software industries groan as if they are being done an injury. Meanwhile, the digital rights management (DRM) software with which they encumber their products are an inconvenience (only) to those who buy them legally, and we are forced to sit through tediously preachy infomercials at the beginning of every movie. The thing is, there is no direct loss to them from illegal copying (it is not like stealing a car, whatever the Federation Against Copyright Theft claim), and the indirect loss is arguable, because:

Illegal copying is good advertising and it’s free

At least it looks like the music industry is starting to come to its senses, and offer legal DRM-free music for download. However, as the December ’08 issue of PC Pro says, the same mistakes are being repeated by eBook publishers. I have already failed to buy an eBook from Wrox, due DRM restrictions. They publish a number of titles on Linux in a DRM-nobbled format that requires the Adobe Digital Editions reader which, ironically, is not available for Linux. By contrast. O’Reilly supply their eBooks as plain, un-encumbered, PDF files.

Guess who will be getting my custom.

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