Thursday, January 19, 2012

How many movies do you own?

Here's a magic trick. I can guess how many movies you own, without even knowing you.


The answer: you don't "own" any.

But, I can hear you saying, I've got shelves full of movies. DVDs, Blu rays, even couple of boxes of old VHS tapes sitting in the garage.

Oh yeah? Well the next time you sit down to watch that old tape of Rocky Horror Picture Show, sit all the way through past the credits until the copyright notice comes up. It will read something like this:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: The copyright proprietors have licensed the material contained in this video-cassette for private and domestic use only and any other use or reproduction in whole or in part including the making of copies of the material or causing it to be transmitted to subscribers to a diffusion service or selling, letting or hire or other-wise dealing with it in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.
Seems you don't "own" it - you've been granted a license.

What's the difference?

A license grants you permission to do something - in the case of our tape, to watch it. At home. You don't have permission to watch it in your church basement, show it to patrons of your bar, make backup copies. If this was a DVD, you also wouldn't have permission to rip it to a file you could put on your tablet, smart phone or computer. Because you don't own it.

At least you can't do it legally.

If I own something, I can pretty much do whatever the hell I want to. If I want to spray-paint my car Day-Glo orange, I can do that. If I want to pull the radio out and install a CD player instead, I can.

Why can't I do that with the movie I bought last week? It's because even though I gave BestBuy $10, and got a case with a disk in it, I only own the physical object. I don't own what's on it.

Ask Lamar Smith what the hell that's all about.


Gar said...

You better be careful. You'll end owning a car that is illegal to drive.

Hot Sam said...

While technically correct, there is a fine line between ownership and control.

If I controlled and had unlimited use of a budget of $1 million a year, a mansion, a limousine, and a private jet, then I don't care whether I actually have title to it.

I would be happy to have a license for those things.

Hot Sam said...

By the way, I really miss your old photo. This one is creepy. I've come to respect and admire Komrade Ralph.

And I loathe captcha.

Dr Ralph said...

Hot Sam - in your honor I've set up a poll so people can vote on which profile picture they prefer. The current one *is* creepy, but it's nowhere near as creepy as this photo.