Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Licensing, Owning, and MTV

Someone wanted to know how to rip their music video DVD onto their iPod because they didn't want to have to purchase the song again just to watch it on their iPod since they already owned the DVD. Another forum frequenter responded with a reminder that it was illegal to rip the DVD onto the iPod because they didn't actually own the song.

The original poster was incredulous: But I bought the DVD, I own the song!

Not true. You own the right to play the song on your DVD. Nothing more.

I chimed in and confirmed this truth: Technically, when you purchase a DVD, CD, or .mp3, you are only buying a license of the song/video... you have paid for the right to listen to/watch it whenever you like (on that particular medium and perhaps a few others). You have paid for the privilege of partaking. You do not own the song or the video. You are not allowed to change it. You are not allowed to do anything except listen to/watch it on your own or with a very limited group of friends.

That's technically the current law: Licensing.

Being the big rebel that I am, I quickly went on to say that I personally do not have a moral objection to ripping a CD I own onto my computer. I don't have a problem with burning another copy to keep in my car. I don't mind ripping DVDs onto my computer to grab a still image to put on this blog.


Because, while I recognize the distinction between purchasing a license and owning the rights to a bit of media, I think the current laws are far too restrictive without a legitimate reason. And while I completely believe that people should be paid for the work they do, I see no reason to pay them twice.

There are also some pretty odd inconsistencies in this whole "digital media" world which make most cases surrounding "piracy" odd at best. One of those major points of copyright law is that you are not allowed to make any "derivative works" from copyrighted material. The clearest example of this would be using a song from your favorite band in as the soundtrack to your movie. ...totally illegal.

But then enter places like MTV:


At least at some points with some songs, they allow for Remixing of their artists. In other words: They let you create a derivative work.

Sure, you could argue that because they are letting you do it, there must be a special license in place--which is likely true--but it still feels odd to be "remixing" songs that I'm technically not supposed to duplicate to put in my car.

...though, I think I've heard of some clause somewhere that says that you can keep a copy on your computer...

This world is mad.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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