Thursday, May 12, 2005

Legality & Morality

A conversation started in the elevator yesterday.

Moreshwar: "I paid for the music in the form of cassette tapes. So I can convert the tapes to mp3 for my personal use."
Onkar: "mp3 is patented format. You are supposed to pay royalty for using it. Use ogg instead."
Shrivallabh: "Any sort of unauthorized copying or reproduction of music in cassette tapes is prohibited"

Assuming that
- Mp3 patent is valid in India.
- There is no law in India to enforce what Shrivallabh says.

Moreshwar is legally as well as morally wrong.
Onkar is legally correct but morally wrong.
Shrivallabh is legally as well as morally correct.

What is your opinion?
What would you choose?


Debajit said...


Well, I believe Moreshwar would want to rip the audio for his own personal use. In that case he could very well do what the hell he wants!! :)

No... seriously! I mean it.

This is my version :D

Why Moreshwar is legally *and* morally *right*

First of all, you are legally allowed to rip your own copy of your music, videos etc. for your own personal use (that means as long as you have acquired them legally, and will not *redistribute* them). This is actually documented... I can't find where... :(( (Hey, even otherwise... Microsoft Windows Media Player would not ship with MP3 encoders -- it allows ripping too :)

Coming down to formats. Hmmm... what do we have here... lets see.. MP3 vs Ogg. You mentioned rightly that "You need to pay royalty to use it". Paying royalties here applies *only* to using the MP3 encoding/decoding algorithms.

If you are using Windows Media Player/iTunes/MusicMatch ... in that case Microsoft/Apple/MusicMatch has already paid Thomson/Fraunhofer the necessary royalties to "buy" the MP3 decoding/encoding technology. (This is clearly documented). The end user is completely free (monetarily and legally, no less!) to rip away to his heart's content.

If Moreshwar were writing some program which uses the MP3 algorithms/techniques, then he would would be legally entitled to pay Thomson Multimedia and Fraunhofer (who own the MP3 patents/copyright) for using ("copying") their copyrighted algorithms.

Moreshwar is legally free to rip to either MP3 or Ogg Vorbis. If he redistributes his ripped music, then the poor artist can sue him (legally and morally!!) and make even more money! :)

Unauthorized *redistribution* is illegal. Legal ripping is not :))


Besides, it is easier to rip to MP3 than Ogg for the normal user :) Windows Media Player, iTunes, MusicMatch etc can all do it... All Linux distros i know of ship with oggenc -- don't know of any popular Ogg encoders for Windows...

I actually started ripping my new cd's etc to Ogg at one time... then I realized they didn't quite sound as good. The problem I realized was with XMMS (yeah, I'm a hardcore Linux guy :)) not being able to equalize Ogg Vorbis audio correctly. I later downloaded a 20-band equalizer for XMMS which could also equalize Ogg.

Yes, given a choice, I'd still rip to Ogg, but I choose MP3 today... alas iTunes/iPod does not support Ogg...

I can't have my way always I guess....Sometimes, I have to let the world win :((

Anonymous said...

how come moreshwar is morally wrong??

if u r paying for smth.. its ur property and u can do whtever u want to with it