FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.
Once upon a time, collecting music was a clunky experience, to say the least. Vinyl albums (while you might like the sound they provide) are large and take up a lot of space. And though tapes and CDs are smaller, they can add up in terms of storage needs, and none of the above are easy to navigate in terms of finding genres, artists, or songs. Moreover, of course, they cannot really be "shuffled" in a meaningful way.
Nowadays, music can be stored with hardly any storage concerns and can be searched and retrieved almost by magic. I must confess, I am a music junkie. When I open iTunes, I have tens of thousands of my songs at my fingertips. I store my songs on a 750-gigabyte external hard drive, and I can transfer and load up to 15,000 songs on my 160-gigabyte iPod. Not bad, eh?
Well, maybe. I recently visited a local Apple Store. The "Genius" there told me to be careful about relying on one hard drive to store so many songs, which in the aggregate constitutes quite a valuable music collection. As he said, all hard drives die at some point. The issue is not "if," but "when."
Great. So in one fell swoop I could lose my entire music collection. Indeed, I already have given away all of my CDs after having ripped the songs into my iTunes, and therefore the CDs no longer are available to me as security. Of course, I could have a back-up hard drive. In fact, the "Genius" said that I would be smart to have two back-up drives loaded with my songs, for a total of three drives housing my music. Thus, as they die, at least one will be still be alive, and I can keep buying and loading drives over time.
Sure, this is one way to go. Of course another way, which is not mutually exclusive from the multiple drives suggestion, is to store my music in the cloud. Presumably, music stored in the cloud would not die along with a dead drive, but instead would be maintained.
All of this begs the question as to whether I really need to even "have my own" music any longer. Perhaps buying and keeping albums and songs has become yesterday in today's world. Why do I need to own music when I have a Pandora account? I have created 100 Pandora "radio stations" and I shuffle them all together. This presents a near never-ending variety of music coming my way without me having to own or store anything. I can change up my Pandora stations whenever I like, and there are other similar music-streaming options, like Spotify.
Yes, I will do my best to preserve "my" music collection at this point. However, I may not add to it much, and I won't have a coronary if it does go missing despite my best efforts. Why? Because Pandora and other music options will follow me into the future.
Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP (http://www.duanemorris.com) where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is http://www.sinrodlaw.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.
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