This is one of many interesting issues

  Forum Editor 19:44 28 Nov 2004

arising from the concept of buying digital music files instead of a recorded media copy. Technically your copyright licence - for that's what you pay for when you 'buy' music - entitles you to play the file as many times as you like, forever. You're not licenced to make copies, or even one copy, under the terms of the licence.

The problem of course is that a file you download to a hard drive is an ephemeral thing - it's digital data, and will last only as long as the data are saved on the drive. Format the drive and you lose the music for good, and the same thing happens if the drive fails, for instance. If you move the files you are in effect making a copy, and that's forbidden by the licence terms - at least after three moves it is.

This is yet anothere example of the music industry trying to grapple with a problem, and doing so ineffectually. We can all munderstand the industry's need to protect its copyright on the music - at least I hope we can - but it's this failure to understand the real world that concerns me. Of course you'll want to move the files - nobody's going to buy a whole new music collection after their third hard drive renewal - and the workaround of writing the files to CDs is the obvious one. Most people will do it, and the industry isn't going to take legal action against everyone who takes the sensible step of backing up their music to removeable media.

It's this refusal by the music industry to understand its customers' needs that is going to hamper the progress of legal downloading - and it will impact on the sale of the new wave of handheld devices which download and store your files on a hard drive........with no way of transferring them out.

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