Who owns your downloads?

Who owns your digital downloads? (Hint: it’s not you)

Link to the original article at zdnet.com, by Ed Bott 3/1/2011

An interesting little article that addresses a point that I’m continually at pains to point out to potential adopters of digital media.

Pretty much anything that you only reach via an end user license agreement is not owned by you. End of story. You cannot legally lend it, re-sell it, or even give it away. Although the article is mainly concerned with music, it should be understood that the same rules apply to any digital content that you did not obtain from a piece of purchased physical media. That goes for movies, television, books, games, and cloud software.

You’re using it at their convenience, often on a limited choice of hardware, and they can terminate or modify access at any time.

But does this really matter? For most people probably not. In the same way as the average user doesn’t give two hoots that they are relinquishing control of their ownership and privacy rights on files that they store online in the cloud or a social network, most people are blissfully ignorant intil circumstance turns around and gives them a slap.

Until a law firm monitoring IP traffic sends a nastygram to you for distributing a file in a way that it’s corporate parent frowns upon, or until you find that you can’t read your book on a particular device, or until Google shuts down your online database either by error or because of some breach of an obscure term or condition.

Using iTunes to aid your terror campaign may jepardise your access to your music collection.

The above example illustrates that nefarious use of an iPod not only increases the chances of orange overalls appearing in your future, but that Steve Jobs will do his best to stop you buying music to make solitary confinement and waterboarding that bit more tolerable.

Joking aside, the internet, the tool that has empowered so many with freedom, is being used more and more as a tool of control, and new generations of users risk taking this monitoring and control as the accepted norm for the sake of convenience.

If you want to read a book that you don’t own, you might as well just borrow it from a library.