I do not have a “media room”, more like a media closet. The books, CD’s, a few DVD’s, and yes even a couple shelves of LP’s that I got away with in the divorce are tucked away, remnants of a former life. Saved I suppose because I have no reason to dispose of them. A music collection starting with the Beatles and James Taylor morphs through Southern Rock then turns more recently to Bluegrass. The science fiction classics of my teen years stare out at me from the bookshelf – testament to an early interest in alien worlds and un-earthly environments. These items form a shadowy profile of my mental life.
Saved among them are things I took from my childhood home after my father passed. I awoke to political consciousness during the Watergate years. My mother absolutely despised Nixon. Among the relics I have are newspaper clippings she methodically collected and preserved throughout the summer of the Watergate hearings. Among the items rescued from my childhood home is a 78 rpm phonograph record of the Glenn Miller hit “String of Pearls”.
Are totems like this important to me? Not supremely. Yet they are something. They connect me to my youth. The smell of the aging, brown paper brings back memories of a time forever gone. Miller’s sax intro conjures up images of World War II.
Imagine if, upon my parent’s passing, a representative from the newspaper showed up on the doorstep demanding return of the “Watergate Collection”. Oh, and those 78 RPM records with which they learned the foxtrot, they must be returned to the record label. Your “ownership rights” do not survive.
Outrageous? Of course! And yet that eventuality is faced by all users of digital media. Got an iPod full of purchased tunes? It may as well go to the grave with you, it cannot be passed down. Your kids will have to re-purchase all the content. Is your Kindle full of classics reads? That digital bookshelf will not be perused upon your passing.
We are leasing the content we enjoy, there is no ownership. Quoting the Amazon terms of service, “(Amazon) grants you a non-exclusive right to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Kindle or a Reading app …Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider. You may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense, or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party.”
Apple’s Terms are nearly identical.
The digital devices we enlist for our entertainment give us control of our media which we commonly mistake for ownership.
Media companies have a long history of selling the same content to us over and over, just on different formats. I have the experience of buying a song on a 45 rpm, then an album, a cassette tape, then a CD and finally digitally from iTunes. Limiting survivorship ensures multiple sales of the same content into the future.
Does this upset you? It apparently upsets Bruce Willis. http://tinyurl.com/btfdfnf The action movie hero swings into action, threatening to bash corporate bad-actors. He is suing Apple. B ruce has apparently amassed a “huge” itunes library and wants to pass it on to his kids.Insert cartoon image of super-hero punching Apple logo.
The raising of consciousness this fight should bring will hopefully result in the opening up of a new legal frontier. Considering the amount of partisan gridlock in Washington, can relief be had for either side of the digital rights divide. Not likely.
One can only hope for the type of social media outcry which earlier in the year doomed SOPA to an early (and much-deserved) death.