Federal Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro compares music to socks in copyright debate

As Michael Geist put it, Federal Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro has indeed used some of the worst copyright analogies I have ever come across.  Thankfully, we live in a democratic society in which it is my duty as a citizen to logically refute the false arguments of an elected official.  So here goes.

Del Mastro’s 1st argument: “When you purchase something you purchase it for a specific purpose.”

True, but #1: A product may have multiple purposes.  I may be purchasing a CD in order to listen to the music, but someone else may be purchasing a CD in order to make a piece of art.  If the purpose of a CD is listening to music, how am I going against the purpose of a CD, by putting the music files on my computer or iPod, in order to listen to them? And if a product can only be used for the original purpose it was intended for should we punish the artist?

True but #2 (I feel this needs to be said again): The purpose of purchasing a CD is to listen to the music on it.  Format switching does not change that purpose … it just allows me to use the product that I purchased (music in this case) on multiple devices – a CD player, a computer, an mp3 player and a smart phone.

Del Mastro’s 2nd argument“If I have the legal right to format shift that, he is making the argument that I should have the right to format shift that, even though I didn’t pay for it.”

True, but #1: Did I not pay for the right to format shift upon purchasing my CD?   I have never seen any fine print on a CD that explicitly says that I can’t format shift it? Plus, when I put my CD into my computer in order to format shift it, it does not prevent me from doing so*. Does not then give me the legal right to do so, then?

*In the event I can’t format shift a CD, I don’t. I also don’t bother buying a CD from that artist, or record company again. 

Del Mastro’s 3rd argument:  “It’s like going to a clothing store and buying a pair of socks.  And going back and saying by the way I decided it wasn’t socks that I need. What I really wanted was shoes.So I’m just to take these and I’m going to  format shift from socks to shoes and I’m not going to paying anything, because it was all for my feet.” 

No because  #1:  Format shifting a music file from a CD format to a digital format does not involve  me going back to HMV, without my CD but my receipt, and saying “I don’t want this CD so I’m just going to take this digital file you have sitting around on the shelf and not pay for it.”  That would be stealing.  Format shifting is me, putting my CD into my computer and uploading the files to my iTunes.

It’s the CD I paid for. I’m keeping it. I’m not returning it to HMV. By format shifting the CD I purchased, I’m not “stealing” a digital file.

I hope that ends this argument.


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