On Owning Music
Popular Christian blogger Tim Challies recently posted a thought-provoking column, On Books and True Ownership. His core points, like the legacy of leaving a printed library to children and grandchildren, were book-related. But along the way, he raised an interesting point that applies to music as much as to books: When you purchase a physical copy of a book (or audio recording), you own it. But when you purchase a digital copy of a book (or audio recording), you are typically granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use it.
We trade one thing for another: When we get the convenience of reading a book or listening to music on any device, we trade in the ability to (legally) re-sell it, and possibly hinder the ability to pass it along to future generations. (These sorts of things are often specified in the long terms of service that everyone checks the box that they agree to and few actually read.)
Is this a worthwhile trade? What are the long-term ramifications—say, for someone trying to study the history of Southern Gospel two hundred years from now, if the Lord has not yet returned?