Now regular readers will not be surprised to hear that I don’t have that MP3 file of Beethoven 9 on my computer. But I was intrigued that Jeff’s email said the BBC had given permission for me to send it to him. So I asked for sight of that permission, and here it is:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Jun 22, 2006 5:13 AM
Subject: BBC Information [T20060603007PS010Z1500559]
Thank you for your e-mail. I understand that you would like to listen to audio files provided by the BBC. The BBC do not encourage large scale copying of BBC material but in this instance as the MP3 files will be used for personal use we can grant you permission. May I take this opportunity to thank you again for taking time to contact the BBC.
Regards Elaine Hunter BBC Information
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ - World Wide Wonderland
Which is very interesting when read in conjunction with the license under which these files were originally distributed. I quote from the BBC Experience website:
The BBC granted you a 7-day, non-exclusive licence to download this Beethoven Experience audio. You may not copy, reproduce, edit, adapt, alter, republish, post, broadcast, transmit, make available to the public, or otherwise use this audio in any way except for your own personal, non-commercial use.
Now if I had a copy of the Beethoven MP3 file that Jeff wants, Ms Hunter at the BBC is saying that I am authorised to copy it and send it to him. But surely that would not be for my own personal use? And wouldn’t I be making it available to the public - I’ve never met Jeff, and don’t even know which hemisphere he is in. And wouldn’t it be for commercial use as the opportunity cost is for Jeff to buy a commercial recording of Beethoven 9? If there is no problem copying this file, and sending it to Jeff, why didn't the BBC simply do that themselves?
There is a much bigger issue here than a single copy of a Beethoven Symphony. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and 28 media companies are currently taking legal action against the users, and software developers, of file sharing networks such as Grokster, Morpheus, KaZaA and eDonkey, and some of these sevices have now closed down or gone 'legitimate'. These networks are made up of millions of privately owned computers which distribute copies of music files on demand to other individuals, and the US Supreme Court recently ruled that this is illegal. Can someone please explain what the difference is between a Thom Yorke file served by Grokster, and a Beethoven file served by On An Overgrown Path?
This whole saga is yet another example of the dysfunctional thinking on file sharing that the BBC recently confessed to in its own Annual Report. That dysfunctional thinking is doing uncalculated harm to musicians, composers, publishers, and many others involved in music making. And if anyone thinks I spend too much time dissing the BBC they should return here tomorrow to read how a major national broadcaster is launching a sustainable online archive of contemporary music that has been developed in true partnership with musicians, unions, and copyright owners.
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