back to article What's copying your music really worth to you?

How much would your iPhone be worth to you if the only music it could play had been bought on the device itself, from Apple? If your answer is "a lot less" or "not very much", then you're not alone. New empirical research has attempted to measure how much we value the ability to copy our music across formats and devices – and it …


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  1. Anomynous Coward

    Re: Where is the economic harm...

    "the economic benefits from liberalising the regime and allowing companies to officially target format-shifting as a service or feature, should be obvious to anybody"

    Isn't that what he is saying? Format shifting is currently illegal but the regulations allow for it to be permitted providing some recompense to the artists (okay, to the copyright holders but the difference between the two is another battleground altogether).

    There companies already reaping an economic benefit from format shifting.

    So get that opened up with a bit of a shift of cash and move on from the current daft situation where something everyone does is technically illegal.

    In spite of the author it seems both just and sensible to consider this.

  2. AdamWill Silver badge

    Re: Where is the economic harm...

    What we're complaining about is that there's absolutely no sensible justification for any kind of 'compensation' for format shifting. Why should I pay the artist, the record company or anyone at all any extra money for the privilege of being able to rip a CD to a hard disk? What am I compensating them *for*? What have they lost? What work have they done?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Where is the economic harm...

    > There companies already reaping an economic benefit from format shifting

    Yes, but the argument used to justify the change is £££ is flawed. They claim that devices are worth more because they can play CD music, which is probably true. However if you "flip the world" to the alternative "legal" reality then how does it look? CDs become practically worthless. Taking their argument then the seller of CDs should be giving money to the hardware vendors for making their product "more valuable.

    They should just accept that the status quo is "win-win" and change the law to something along the lines of "if you bought music you have a right to play it on any device you own, no commercial exploitation allowed". No too hard eh?

    Any new technology has to bring benefits to the consumer otherwise it's a non-starter; DRM fails on every level as being(1) not useful to the customer (2) likely to make music more expensive, (3) no standard interoperability between devices (if MS tried this shit with office formats there would be outcry. Oh look, their was).

    Mandating any kind of DRM is flawed until (1) all device use the _same_ DRM (2) all devices use the same formats. Currently (1) is impossible because all DRM designs when fully implemented are wrapped up in enough patents to make any lawyer cry with joy and (2) is practically impossible as we keep inventing new ones, making uncompressed audio about the only way to go.

  4. g e

    Missed the boat by years

    Big Meeja have had years to get over themselves and bring themselves into the online age.

    Now they deserve the results of their failure to act, when everyone has been telling them to for a decade, to bite them squarely on the arse.

  5. Chad H.

    Format shifiting levies

    Ultimately these levies are unfair to - to the artists themselves. How do they determine who gets what share of the cash - My understanding its based on Radio Airplay, so if you have exotic tastes and hate current popular trash, you can't help but subsidise it whilst your prefered artist goes wanting.

  6. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    100% agree. Why should I have to pay a levy that will, most likely, fund the Justin Bieber of the day? I'd much rather give money to those I consider deserving of it, which I do when I buy CD's anyway (indirectly granted).

    A blanket levy will do one thing, encourage the likes of Cowell to push out more shite.

    For those that missed mongrels, this song comes to mind

  7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    From personal experience with the UK PPL (Phonographic Performance Limit) they pay lip service to distributing the fees levied to the artists involved but that's it. In reality, the only methodology they can possibly have implemented it to levy fees, pool the fees and then share out to the distributors arbitrarily.

    I know this because I previously worked in the industry where we could list the date and times of tracks as played in clubs and pubs nationwide and with even just taking one chain consisting of hundreds of venues even just the monthly report of this is very lengthy. The PPL insisted on this in paper format (although we did manage to persuade them that CDs of the PDF documents were better), there is no way that they were going to process the records and distribute the fees fairly based on them. Instead the fees were split between the distributors who were then left to reward artists as they felt fit.

  8. moiety

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    Agreed. As normal, Mr Orlowski's proposed measures are all about keeping the middlemen fed and offering only the lucky artistes the second bite at the cash...if that.

    Further: It takes a lot of paperwork and cash *upfront* to register with these organisations; and so independent artistes without a label contract are going to get carved out of any benefits anyway.

    And this tax-per-device thing doesn't work either...they tried it in Spain and are still bitching about us actually having the temerity to use the concessions that we pay for.

  9. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    In Canada there is a levy on all blank CDs to cover this.

    In theory it goes to the artists based on all time record sales (so Bryan Adams and Celine Dion) - however the 25c/disk (!) doesn't cover the costs of the scheme so no money has been paid out.

    But small local bands selling their own home made CDs do get to pay the levy on the blanks - so that's OK then.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    At least Mr Orlowski has the balls to present the issues[1] and suffer the flames, rather than just toeing the usual webhacks' approved line of ensuring that one's tongue is properly inserted into the freetards' collective arse.

    [1] Fairly even-handedly IMHO.

  11. moiety

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    Even-handedly if you're a copyright-holder. The buying public and the creatives themselves are under-represented IMO.

  12. MJI Silver badge

    Re: Format shifiting levies

    And on blank media.

    Why should I pay a levy on a blank CD to burn data, or a blank DVD which I am selling with my own copywrited material on it?

    Why should I pay a levy for my holiday video on Blu Ray?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I've bought it as a CD or MP3, I'm entitled to do whatever the fucking hell I please with it, in a personal capacity. Be that turning the CD into a MP3, or the MP3 into a Wax Cylinder. It's about time that instead of buying a license to own a CD, etc, you have a license for that track for personal use. Especially where there is no discernible quality increase, unlike SD to HD content.

    It's what I do, though.. to be fair. Copyright Law is well behind my personal interpretation of it. Legal where possible, and illegitimate where not... I'm happy to allow that business model to develop into one where I am able to get content in the formats I want. The same illegitimate models that have allowed iTunes, NetFlix and Steam to eventually profit from it... eventually we give enough reason to monetise it, they will. The corporations aren't happy about it, but the people really do have the power in the media industry at the moment.

    For the record I have a large amount of purchased media, 100 or so games, 400+ movies and hundreds of paid for MP3 albums... get the business model right, and I'll pay. Simple. I'm happy to pay.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I'm entitled"

    Those two words are enought to tell anyone why the Western cultures of the world are in such a bad way. No son, you're not entitled to anything.

  15. P. Lee Silver badge

    Re: "I'm entitled"

    ditto to the corporates.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "I'm entitled"

    Five self entitled downvote. You've got to love the mentality of the freetard/fandroid.

  17. TheOtherHobbes

    Problem is

    only a clueless drooling amoeba - or an economist (but I repeat myself) - would believe a set of web questions has any practical relationship to actual spending habits.

    And performing a 'conjoint analysis' on this 'data' to return feature values to the nearest penny is hilariously bad (but unfortunately probably quite well paid) non-science.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can have all the access you desire long as you are willing to pay for the right to duplicate or transfer to newer media. Few people I know value their music collection that much. They just buy new music as the times and trends change.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: You can have all the access you desire

    That's weird, as I definitely remembered ripping every single one of my CDs when MP3 started to become popular. [Deleted previous due to forgetting the all important 'MP3']

  21. hahnchen

    How does rent seeking reduce "economic harm"?

    Andrew is arguing over lawyery semantics. When people buy a CD, they're paying for music, not a shiny piece of plastic. That the law states that they are merely buy an obsolete piece of plastic, means that the law is anachronistic, and never really grounded in reality in the first place.

    If record companies believe that format shifting of CDs is valuable, and this report suggests that it is, then why don't record companies raise the price of those CDs, introduce some stupid DRM, and see how much we *really* value it.

    Then we'll see who's producing the lobbynomics.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Nope sorry....

    ..if I buy the disc, MP3 or whatever, I will format shift it as much as I bloody want.

    Should the artists be compensated?

    Have they produced a new recording? No, so why should they benefit?

    I've no issue with them officially releasing it in a new format and charging for it, that's up to them, but why should end users have to have the situation of where an "artist" records once and then you have to pay over and over each time you want to replay the media in a different format?

    If recording artist and companies want to keep getting money, then they need to keep making music.

    But I guess I must be a evil pirate and music hater, those 2000+ CD's, in my loft must all be paid for again in full as I want them in a more convenient format.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nope sorry....

    Wrong again.

    You are not buying the "art" you are buying digital access to the art - which comes with specific rights and limitations. Illegal copies will land you in the slammer, as they should. If you want more copies you either pay for them or get punished for violation of copyright law. It's no different than buying a copy of a software program or an O/S. If you want to install these on multiple machines, which requires multiple copies, you must pay for the additional copies/use.

  24. Dire Criti¢

    Re: Nope sorry....

    @Anonymous Coward 21st May 2012 16:35 GMT

    "Illegal copies will land you in the slammer"

    What bollocks. Whilst it may technically be against the law; no-one, to my knowledge, has ever been sent to the "slammer" for personal use format shifting.

    The law on this matter is pretty much unenforceable and to all intents and purposes may as well not exist at all.

    All the more reason for it being taken off the statute books.

  25. chris lively

    Re: Nope sorry....

    And this is the fundamental problem. We aren't buying a license to listen to the music. We are buying a complete package. This difference between what the record companies are actually selling and what we think we are buying is huge.

    Which is really what needs fixed. Establish that, regardless of medium, a copy of the art is what's being acquired. Then we won't need a "format shifting" discussion and more people would get behind the rights holders.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nope sorry....

    Don't be a daft lad. You can install multiple copies on many pcs. You may only USE one copy at a time though as per the licence. Rather like spotify pauses you if you fire up and PLAY a second installation. So that's the same for format shifting.

  27. Seb123

    Re: Nope sorry.... Posted Monday 21st May 2012 16:35 GMT Anonymous Coward

    No, my dear sir, I am afraid that you're wrong and are, in fact, an imbecile of gargantuan proportions.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nope sorry....

    No problem.

    Provided you agree to never play you music in public place or where it can be heard by a member of the public (e.g. somewhere with your windows open). Never have a TV facing the street.

    That would be infringement of public broadcasting.

    You never lend a recording to someone and say check out this new group they are fantastic.

    Unauthorized lending.

  29. Bunker_Monkey

    What about..

    Some of us that started to mp3 vinyl so that it could be played back on said devices.....

    time must cost something as you cannot just rip it like a CD... (or tapes as well)

    (mines the one with a Stanton 500 ALII in the pocket)

  30. Mike Flugennock

    Re: What about..

    Some of us that started to mp3 vinyl so that it could be played back on said devices.....

    time must cost something as you cannot just rip it like a CD... (or tapes as well)

    I think that's the unspoken dirty little secret of the vinyl revival; aside from all the talk about the unique sonic characteristics of properly cared-for vinyl on decent-quality equipment -- ripping vinyl to mp3 doesn't produce a "signature" (that I know of) and you can't encode DRM on vinyl.

  31. That Steve Guy

    Forced format shifting apathy....

    The big issue here is that consumers hate formats being made obsolete and all their music collections with it.

    People above me summed it up 100%, "Why should I buy again something I already own" and this is the one thing that always gets people's backs up.

    These days data is provided on certain media formats and then those formats get made obsolete deliberately by the suppliers. First we had vinyl records, then we had tapes, next we had CDs, now finally we have digital files and the whole myriad of file formats and devices that go with it!

    Each format was forced into obsolecence by manufacturing companies who wanted to shift newer hi-fis, steroes, ipods, and most importantly a record industry that wants us to buy our music collections multiple times over.

    The way I see it people have invested a lot of money into their CD/DVD collections and they do not want to buy them again so soon after having to do so after the whole vinyl/tape/VHS thing. I for one don't want to spend more for what I own.

  32. Fuzz

    Re: Forced format shifting apathy....

    format obsolescence is not generally caused by manufacturers.

    Tapes became popular alongside vinyl because they were portable. The quality wasn't as good and all that rewinding was a pain so they never took over from vinyl.

    CDs are considered better than vinyl by most people because they are easier to use and allow you to jump forwards and backwards across the disc accurately and instantly. They didn't completely replace tape because they weren't as good on the move.

    mp3s have replaced tapes because they're better in every way. For some people they've replaced CDs, for others CDs are still useful as a way to buy uncompressed DRM free music.

    DVDs combined with PVRs have replaced VCRs because again in almost all use cases the new product is better.

    examples of products that are their purely to line pockets are minidisc, DCC and bluray, these are products that have benefits over their predecessors but not enough to warrant going out and repurchasing music or video collections to take advantage of.

  33. HP Cynic

    There just seems no end to the pathetic, money grubbing of the media corps - we are getting closer to pay per listen/play/read as it seems they don't want us to own anything.

    I just spendt hours copying all my CDs onto my HDD the other weekend and never have nor will I ever buy MP3s: I want to physically own the CD as my "personal master".

    I don't trust iTunes enough to buy from: it loses my music enough as it is.

    Oh and CDs are cheaper: I never pay more than £8 for an album now. No idea how HMV can sell albums for £20 or whatever joke-price they are now.

  34. Ed Courtenay

    Why pay to downscale?

    The economics are simple from my perspective as a user; I'll pay to 'upscale' but it'll be a cold day in hell when agree to pay again for the same content in a downscaled format.

    As a teenager I had a fairly heathly collection of cassettes; as my disposable income grew and CD players/CDs became ubiquitous I re-purchased the collection of The The, Joy Division and Depeche Mode albums I had leaving the stuff I had "grown out of" behind - and I was happy to do so, as I got something extra. As an 'upscaling' transaction I got a more robust storage format (not indestructible, but those of a certain age will remember the sound as a tape got mangled) and much improved audio fidelity.

    The format-shifting process will only ever at best return the same quality as the source, and in most situations (converting flac/wav to mp3 for example) will produce a lower quality destination result. Why should I (or anyone else) be asked to pay extra for an inferior copy?

    The CD introduced a massive problem for the audio content industry; once people have high quality music in their posession, what incentive do they now have to re-purchase? Tape -> CD was a no-brainer, as was VHS -> DVD, but if the user doesn't percieve any added benefit they aren't going to accept having to pay extra.

  35. Chad H.

    Re: Why pay to downscale?

    Ultiamtely the regular consumer isn't an audiophile, they dont require "Great" or perhaps even "good" quality. They want "Acceptable" "affordable" and "portable".

  36. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Re: Why pay to downscale?

    "Ultiamtely the regular consumer isn't an audiophile, they dont require "Great" or perhaps even "good" quality. They want "Acceptable" "affordable" and "portable""

    And that is the industry's real problem. The consumer wants crap and crap isn't worth paying money for...

    Educate the consumer to understand quality and perhaps something can still be saved.

  37. Andrew James

    Would the record labels prefer we buy a cd, and rip it to digital for use on our various devices, or just download it for free, bypassing them entirely?

    16 or 17 years ago I had a Sony Discman, i carried around a couple of cd's in my pocket and listened to a few hours of music between charges. Now i can carry several days worth of music and have the battery to last at least a day of playback - I already own all the music on cd, but I'm not allowed to convert that music i bought the rights to play into a format that lets me play it when I want to listen?

    If the record labels wake up they might actually make more money than ever before now we can buy music on a whim while standing at a bus stop, etc rather than going about it the old fashioned way and going out specifically to buy an album or two on a saturday morning, and only being able to listen to it at home.

  38. jrd010

    The problem is...

    ...the music industry doesn't see music the same as we do.

    They see each possible "copy" of a song as a "lost sale".

    Historically, this has worked for them. Going forward, not so much, I think.

    In Thee Olden Days, we bought a song on vinyl - a record. Then came cassette tape (and remember, folks, Home Taping Killed the Music Industry - oh wait, it didn't, they're still here). Some people copied records to tape, many others bought tapes of the same records they already owned, just in a different format, for convenience.

    Then along came CDs, and many people, once again, paid *yet again* for the same song they already owned, just in a different format. Some people transferred records to recordable CDs, but most didn't.

    This is the music industry model -- they like to call these different formats of the same song "copies", and (to be fair) the copyright legislation as it currently stands mostly agrees with them. Personally I have no problem with them charging for a version of the song in whichever format it may be, as long as that cost mostly reflects the cost of generating that version.

    Unfortunately, along came computers, and MP3s, and suddenly it was "easy" for anybody to format-shift the music they'd paid for. In fact, Microsoft built CD-ripping into Media Player as long ago as XP.

    Sadly, rather than adapt to this new world by trying to change copyright such that it was the *music* you bought, the music industry fought to preserve their existing model -- and given it worked (mostly) with tape and CD, who can realistically blame them?

    MOST people would be happy to buy the songs they want to listen to, but to then charge them again and again (and again) just to have the same song in a newer format, with no added value, I don't think so.

    Personally, I feel that the 'old' model is unsustainable, particularly when the music industry tries to claim that an album of MP3s (no media, no packaging, no or minimal distribution cost) should cost the same as the physical CD, which has production costs, packaging, warehousing, shipping, physical storefront, etc, etc...

  39. PyLETS

    Re: The problem is...

    'They see each possible "copy" of a song as a "lost sale".'

    The simple refutation of the argument that any copy is a lost sale concerns the difference between what an artist gets for one person listening/recording one song over the radio, or the same song as part of a CD. The artist has rights in respect of both plays (also primarily over the businesses involved), but the prices are not the same. The share they get concerning a radio play will end up as a tiny fraction of the due share which relevant law decides the financing of a radio station ought to include for rights holders fees.

    Not all sales are equally valuable to the artist, nor should they be. You'll get people on the same train journey or flight paying wildly different ticket prices, and if it were not so, both the revenue to operators and utility to travellers would decrease.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They see each possible "copy" of a song as a "lost sale".

    and the government see it as a lost bit of tax.

    some countries tax blank media to recoup the loss.

  41. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Re: The problem is...

    In Thee Olden Days, we bought a song on vinyl - a record. Then came cassette tape (and remember, folks, Home Taping Killed the Music Industry - oh wait, it didn't, they're still here). Some people copied records to tape, many others bought tapes of the same records they already owned, just in a different format, for convenience...

    You nailed it, man. In Ye Olden Days, whenever I bought an LP, the first time I'd play it would be to dub it onto cassette so that I could listen to it in my car, and on my deck at home to avoid excess wear and tear on the vinyl. I'd dub the LP, then put it back into the slipcase and stash it on the shelf as my "master", safe until the cassette wore out, and then I'd pull the LP to make a fresh tape dub, then put it away again. I have LPs I bought in college which are still in near-mint condition because I handled them this way.

    I do that with my CDs and my bootleg live footage today; I rip the CDs to mp3 so I can ilsten to them with iTunes without risking any damage to the CDs in the process of handling them, and my bootleg live stuff is downloaded as FLACs or 320k mp3's, then backed up to audio CDs for use as a "master". I also still occasionally dub stuff to cassettes to play in the old boombox while I'm working in the garden.

  42. nijam Silver badge

    Technically, playing a CD (or MP3, or any other medium for that matter) is format shifting the content. Perhaps the law against format shifting needs to be repealed. Or perhaps it is to protect us from the crap that the "creative industries" sell. (Of course, there are no creative industries, in fact; the creative parts aren't industries, and the industries aren't creative.)

  43. Robert Forsyth

    If you are not going to give them money

    why would a copyright holder want you to be able to easily copy it?

    Naïve posters?

    The copyright holder has the right to say who and how the material can be copied. If you want to copy it you have to get permission to do so, and perhaps pay for the privilege, unless the rights holder has already given you that permission. The other option is to vote with your feet.

    If it could be suggested to the copyright holder that you will only buy the CD if it includes the right to copy it for personal use (and not let someone else use the CD in the meantime), that would be legal. Some BDs/DVDs come with digital download rights.

  44. VespaBoy

    Re: If you are not going to give them money

    As others have already implied, this point simply asks more loudly "do we pay for the music or the format?". The corollary being, "are music companies (publishers) selling music, or are they selling MP3, vinyl, CDs etc?". My peronal view is that music companies / record labels sell the music, not the formats...I buy the right to listen to the music, not a piece of plastic that happens to have music on it.

    If they could, record companies would charge everyone for EACH listen.

  45. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Re: If you are not going to give them money

    The other option is to vote with your feet.

    Except that we can't even do that! You see, when the media industry makes less money it's "because of piracy" and they start campaigning for more draconian regs.

    I'll quite happily spend a couple of quid extra for the 'triple play' packs if/when buying a BR. Much as I like having the Hi-Def content, the reality is when my BR player packs up it'll be a DVD player going back in its place because I don't think the improvement in quality is worth the price difference (not quite format shifting as they're supplying it, but similar principle)

    What I won't go for, is purchasing something in one format to find I'm tied to that. As it stands, if DVD players dropped off the face of the earth, I'll simply stop buying video media until something sensible comes along (streaming no use with my BB speed) and content myself with DVD rips in the meantime (all ripped from a disc I've paid for, I hasten to add).

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: If you are not going to give them money

    Copyright holder already knows they can be copied. That's why the twats released it on cd.

  47. Stevie Silver badge


    This just in: A significant proportion of the population also prefer to breathe air and eat food.

    Well done Professor Obvious.

  48. Joseph Lord

    Ban on personal copying brings copyright into disrepute

    The fact that perfectly reasonable use such as copying your music to portable devices is currently infringing makes infringers of the vast majority of people, makes complying with the law difficult/expensive/pedantic. This results in almost everyone making personal ethical judgements on copyright rather than following the law. Some freetards may feel entitled to copy and even distribute content, paytards may repurchase in iTunes the content they already have on CD but most people will shade somewhere in between. A more reasonable law may be able to become a social norm which should really be the goal of both lawmakers and media industries.

    The solution isn't to charge for reasonable behaviour but simply to permit it. If people feel that they are paying for content with devices they may feel morally entitled to use P2P services to obtain media.

    The article fails by assuming that there should be a right over personal copying or at least compensation without questioning this.

  49. Stevie Silver badge


    During the late 70s/early 80s the loudest voice calling for banning the taping of personally owned music belonged to EMI, who incidentally were the world leader in sales of blank cassettes.

  50. stucs201

    Re: Bah!

    I also seem to remember that the blank tapes I used to buy to copy vinyl to mostly came from the same record shop as the vinyl.

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