For those who don’t know, as well as the Beatles Live At The BBC Vol 2 set (already on my Xmas list), Universal are releasing two digital-only albums of previously unreleased music — one by the Beatles and one by the Beach Boys (plus various Brian Wilson productions and associates) — next week, to take advantage of the use-it-or-lose-it copyright extension rules that were added to EU copyright law last year.
Now, leaving aside the morality of the new laws (which I find disgusting — I am a strong supporter of copyright laws, but *only* when those laws allow things to revert to the public domain after a reasonable time. Copyright was created to allow artists to earn a living, not to create a perpetual aristocratic rentier class living off the creations of past generations) this poses a problem for me.
The Beach Boys release is fine — it’ll be available from Amazon as DRM-free MP3s (though with identifying metadata). But the Beatles release is, like all the Beatles’ digital releases, iTunes-only. And Apple not only do not have an iTunes client for GNU/Linux, they have repeatedly blocked any attempt by other developers to provide such a client. In other words, they actively refuse to sell me this album.
I’m still debating what to do about this. I could get a Windows-using friend to buy a copy of the album, dropbox it to me, and give them the money… but given that they are actually refusing to sell me the album *and* that I don’t approve of the copyright extension itself *and* that by giving money to iTunes I would be propping up a monopoly, should I?
There’s an extra moral problem, though, in that I may have much of this music already on bootlegs, and the only way I can morally justify owning bootlegs to myself is that I do, always, buy the music again should it become legally available.