Ferry Boender

Programmer, DevOpper, Open Source enthusiast.


How I get my music and movies

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

I don’t buy music CDs. They’re more expensive than they should be, and the prices never drop, even if the CDs are old. I don’t buy music online either, since it’s usually even more expensive than a CD, it has stupid DRM (Digital Restriction Management) restrictions, and you don’t even get the nice booklet. How can something that has no costs for physical production, worse quality than the real product and less value for your money cost more than the real thing? I don’t buy movies (DVDs) either, because there’s all kinds of restrictive stuff on them such as regions and DRM copy restrictions.

DRM that’s meant to keep you from copying media is illegal in the Netherlands. We’ve got a law that says you can make backup copies of media you buy. Fair-use probably also allows me to convert media I’ve bought so that I can listen to it in my car (if I had one), or on whatever device I happen to have. It’s also legal in the Netherlands to make copies of music and movies for your friends. Since DRM prevents these things, it’s illegal. Why would I buy a product that is too expensive, restricts my rights and is also illegal?

Instead of buying content, I download it. I download massive amounts of music and movies, and I never pay for any of it. And I don’t have to feel guilty about it, because it’s legal in the Netherlands. I can download as much as I want, but distributing contents is illegal (unless it’s to some close friends).

In the Netherlands, we pay a tax on empty CDs and DVDs. Legislators assume everybody buying empty, writeable media is a criminal. It’s not even a case of “Guilty until proven innocent”, because there’s no way to escape the tax, short of illegally importing empty media from across the border. What if I just want to make backups of my personal files? The money’s supposed to go to the record companies. It doesn’t always get there apparently, but it’s the idea that counts. I don’t want my money to go to the record companies, because they’re greedy bastards that keep breaking the law and violating my rights. So I don’t buy empty media either. I’ve got a big fat Internet connection and harddisk space is cheap, so why would I keep my stuff on CDs or DVDs?

I don’t have to feel sorry for the artists either. They get their money from the tax on empty media. Except from me of course. But if the law can be ambiguous, so can I. Besides, those poor artists should stand up to their record companies and distributors and demand fairly priced CDs and DVDs and renounce DRM.

I’ve got 8000 pieces of music on my computer. Let’s say the average CD contains eight songs. That’s a thousand CDs. I’d consider €10,- for a CD that’s just been released a fair price. An older CD, say, a year old, should cost a maximum of €5,- to €7,- euro’s. So let’s say €6,-. Most of my music was older than a year by the time I downloaded it. Perhaps 2% was just released. That would be twenty CDs.

20 x €10,- = €200,-
980 x €6,- = €5880,-
Total: €6080,-

So, the record industry could have had approximately €6000,- of my money in their pocket instead of €0,-, all because they’re greedy bastards. Too bad folks, but I don’t really feel sorry for you.

Here’s what the government should do:

  • Remove the tax on empty media.
  • Break the Record Industry’s cartel
  • Demand fair prices on CDs
  • Outlaw Digital Restriction Management when it breaks the law.

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