It’s True, We Don’t Own Our Digital Music

ZDNet wrote a lengthy piece today about how we don’t own our music. When we buy music on iTunes, we are buying a license to play the track or album with a limited amount of rights. How is this different from buying a CD?

“[O]nce you’ve acquired a lawfully-made CD or book or DVD, you can lend, sell, or give it away without having to get permission from the copyright owner. In simpler terms, ‘you bought it, you own it’ (and because first sale also applies to gifts, ‘they gave it to you, you own it’ is also true),” according to Section 109 of the Copyright Act.

If you buy a digital album, then you cannot share it with a friend. If you do not like a digital music album, too bad you cannot return it.

One of the problems I have with iTunes is that you cannot download music tracks and ringtones for free again if it is deleted off of your hard drive. For example, I had to buy the same ringtone a couple of times and I downloaded an Eminem album five years ago that it won’t let me download for free again. This is Apple’s way of telling me that I don’t own the music I buy.


This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
Leave a Comment