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Who owns your digital media?

Shoeboxes of Tapes, on FlickrIn  this episode of NPR’s Science Friday podcast from last year, New York Times columnist Randy Stross talks about how we’re now entering an age where our digital “products” are no longer ours to own.

When you buy music as an MP3 (assuming it’s not protected) you can copy or transfer it freely, to be used as wish, just as cassette tape recordings used to be. But in a world of controlled devices such as the Kindle or Apple’s iPod and iPad devices, it’s no longer to separate the “product” (be it an app, an e-book or an interactive website) from the device you use to consume it. Companies now have the ability to change the content, the experience or your access, after you have purchased it. Sometimes the content will be hosted online, in the cloud, which means you can access it anyway, but you’ll also never truly possess it.

Should we just accept this change, and be happy we won’t be carrying our media around for the rest of our life in shoeboxes, or should we fight to hold onto our rights of ownership so that we can be free to watch, read and listen whenever and however we want?

Read more, or listen to the MP3.


Image credit: draggin on Flickr.

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I’m listening to YouTube. And I’m loving it.

Funk producer/performer Kutiman released Thru-You, a remixing of YouTube audio that’s what would happen if Girl Talk, DJ Shadow, and Thievery Corporation surfed the web together.

This is what the Internet is good at. It’s a wonderful example of what Clay Shirky calls Organizing without Organizations — millions of video clips of people showing their chops, selected by an editor with decent taste. And with modern editing tools that can combine video and audio, it makes for interesting viewing, too. It’s a ready-made collaborative video.

It also underscores the huge gulf between how people are using technology today and where copyright law stands. With Girl Talk, the artists’ source material was recognizable; in this case, the clips were uploaded with members’ express approval, saying they had the right to them. But they probably didn’t envision them being re-used in this way; some of the clips are from music teachers hoping to promote their classes.

Within a few hours, the site had the following message:

Due to overwhelming traffic we had to go down to re-charge (again). Working on it. Check back later.

Well, it’s back. Manager Boaz says “at this stage there are no plans for an official release of the “Thru-You” project.” Wanna support the guy? Go buy his stuff from Amazon, iTunes, or eMusic; it’s similar, although he plays most of the music himself. But first, give the site a listen.

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