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Ownership Matters: A way to own digital media you buy online

In his piece for PoliticoMagazine, Kyle K. Courtney describes the questionably precise positioning of the “buy” button so commonly found next to music and movies online.

“When Amazon, iTunes or any digital retailer explicitly says ‘Buy Now’ and the consumer clicks that ‘buy’ button, there is a definite presumption of purchase, and, with that purchase, ownership. That presumption, however, is not reflected in reality,” says Courtney.

If you read the pages of fine print, which many of us don’t, you’ll see you’re not really “buying” anything. Your content is only as protected as the terms say it is, and only if the retailer maintains your access to the content you paid for, as they or their service can close at any time. Most of the digital content you buy is not protected by the solid legal rights you get when you purchase media in its traditional physical format.

So why do people keep buying into media they’ll never own? Courtney says, “We are attracted — and have become accustomed — to the convenience of rapid purchases and on-demand content. When it comes time to move our online MP3 collection or transfer digital content to another device, then we face a surprising reality: We do not really own our electronic music, books and movies in the same way we do when we purchase physical books, CDs, records or DVDs.”

With the Murfie service, we’ve created a hybrid of physical and digital ownership: digital content with true ownership rights in the underlying media you own. The music you buy on Murfie can be available instantly to stream, and you can sell it to someone else if you decide it’s not for you. This is possible because each album you buy is backed by a corresponding physical copy that we store at our headquarters. It’s up to you if you want to store your titles on our shelves or yours, but the digital access is available to you anywhere.

On-demand music and movies are convenient, and it’s true that not everyone will care about owning everything they pay for. But the main issue, Courtney seems to be saying, is transparency. If we’re not really “buying” the digital content from these other big-name services, that should be clear. Then people will have the information to make informed choices about real purchases vs. rental contracts, and go for an ownership-based model if that’s what they desired in the first place.

In the future, we could have ownership that’s free of the physical backups. This could be possible with better contracts around digital content, which could allow buyers to have permanent and transferable rights connected to the media they bought, in formats that work across vendors and services. At Murfie we refer to this as a Physical Equivalent License, and we’re working on offering one down the road—and when it happens, we’ll be sure to state what you are really paying for clearly, right on the buttons in the shops.

Top 10 Posts of 2014: Murfie Blog

As 2014 rolls to a close, take a look at our 10 most popular blog posts of the year! Two of these were written in 2013, which means they are still going strong!

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.00.27 PM#1. Staff Picks: Top Albums for Lossless Listening (FLAC & ALAC)
August 19, 2013
By: John Kruse

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.00.47 PM#2. Best of the Best: Bob Marley & the Wailers
August 27, 2014
By: Kayla Liederbach

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.01.01 PM#3. 5 disc-ripping fails: What you risk by digitizing your CD collection yourself
April 7, 2014
By: Kayla Liederbach

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.01.31 PM#4. Interview with Zoë Keating
April 28, 2014
By: Kayla Liederbach

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.01.48 PM#5. Interview with Thorsten Loesch of iFi (Makers iPhono Preamplifier)
February 17, 2014
By: John Kruse

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.02.08 PM#6. Best of the Best: Pink Floyd
July 21, 2014
By: Grant Peterre

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.02.20 PM#7. We Found It: The World’s Most Expensive CD
September 16, 2013
By: Ally Boutelle

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.02.39 PM#8. Comparing Audio Formats: High-Resolution vs. Current Standards
April 4, 2014
By: John Kruse

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.02.53 PM#9. Album Preview: “Mandatory Fun” by Weird Al Yankovic
July 9, 2014
By: Grant Peterre

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 4.03.06 PM#10. Interview with Caroline Smith [Podcast]
April 30, 2014
By: Kayla Liederbach

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Ownership Matters: Buyer Beware!

Did you read the Terms and Conditions?

It’s no secret that Terms and Conditions are subject to change. When you buy licensed content online—whether it’s music, movies, or some other media—your access to that content is always at risk.

Take this for example: Online gamers were able to buy full songs within a virtual social networking game created by IMVU, Inc. Later on, all the songs were truncated to 20-second clips, resulting in a lawsuit filed by Peter MacKinnon, Jr., a gamer who was upset that all the songs he paid money for were shortened. This instance shows how the uncertain future of licensed content can make your initial investment wasted if the terms change, or don’t protect you.

IMVU argued that since MacKinnon accepted the terms, he has no property rights to claim.

And that’s just it—MacKinnon accepted the terms, so it’s perfectly legal for the gaming company to do whatever they want with the songs he bought if that’s what the terms say. That doesn’t change the fact that, well… he got screwed, and everyone can see that!

We all read and understand the fine print all the time, right?

As a music fan, it’s a problem when your rights are dictated by often complex and flexible terms and not good old-fashioned property rights. The terms of buying licensed content are making this a “buyer beware” world—which seems worse than a world where what you buy is legally yours in a way you understand, forever and unchanged, across vendors and services.

If you want to buy music and have it always be yours, it’s great to go with ownable formats like CDs and vinyl. A lot of people dig digital music, and so do we—which is we built our service to provide you digital download and streaming access to a physical collection you own. The CDs you buy on Murfie and send to Murfie will always remain yours—so no fear here if our terms change. Ownership has got you covered.

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Ownership Matters: Redbox Instant has shut down

On October 7th 2014, Redbox Instant officially shut down and discontinued their movie streaming service which only existed for 19 months.

With Redbox Instant, customers could pay a monthly fee to stream movies at home or on their mobile devices. Customers could also purchase electronic versions of movies, which were made available to them in their account for on-demand viewing anytime.

Since the company is no more, they offered refunds for the remainder of any unused monthly subscriptions. But the lingering question that customers are asking is: What happened to the digital movies I purchased?

Redbox posted an FAQ about this very question:

What happens to the movies I bought and stored in my digital locker? We’re exploring options for customers who purchased electronic versions of on-demand movies and will be providing that information to you soon. We appreciate your patience.

Do you know what that really means? “Be very, very worried, because you never really owned anything.” The FAQ was posted almost three weeks ago with no update to follow.

As we gain more convenient access to music and movies in the cloud, our ownership and control of this content is under assault. As the Redbox example points out, it doesn’t matter that you paid real money for a cloud copy of a movie—your access to that copy is controlled by a gatekeeper. And that gatekeeper can change the rules or even cease to exist at any point. Redbox Instant is not the first DRM service to shut down and leave customers high and dry after purchasing digital content. Within the last decade, Walmart, MSN, and Yahoo Music ended up announcing that customers would no longer have access to the digital content they paid for.

Contrast that with the ownership experience of physical media—your CDs and DVDs. Physical media puts you in total control. Ownership rights are well established. The formats are well documented. The only real downside to physical media is that it takes up real physical space. It’s less convenient than streaming.

And that’s why we built Murfie. We wanted to make real ownership of content in the cloud a reality. We’ve realized that vision for music. Our platform makes it ultra-convenient to really own CDs in the cloud. Check back soon about movies!

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Interview with Man Mantis [Podcast]

Electronic music is an exciting genre. The addition of technology to the music-making progress created a rapid and diverse evolution of styles and sounds. Man Mantis mixes electronic, hip hop and other styles to make something pleasing to the ears. And as he creates, the music takes a life of its own. We at Murfie know Man Mantis as Mitch Pond, a former employee. With an inside scoop of what it’s like to work at a music service, and what it’s like to sell his own music online, Mitch has a lot of valuable insights on the music industry in general.

Who: Man Mantis; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: Mitch shares his history, music evolution, thoughts on the changing music industry and the difference between the Madison and Denver music scenes.
Where: Murfie HQ
When: June 14th, 2014
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
File: mp3 version


Albums by Man Mantis + more recommendations

Man Mantis Cities Without HousesMan Mantis Dawn of the Def

RJD2 The Third HandRJD2 Deadringer

Flying Lotus Pattern + Grid WorldDumate Rite The Known KnownsDj Shadow Preemptive StrikeDj Shadow The Outsider


 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out more at facebook.com/manmantis.

Into RSS? Follow our podcast feed via http://blog.murfie.com/category/podcasts/feed.


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.