Bill Gates: "Buy a CD and rip it."

Here’s something interesting I found via our sister site, the Apple Gazette. In a recent bloggers’ convention within Microsoft’s headquarters, Bill Gates discussed digital rights management (DRM) and gave his opinion on its current state and the future. It seems Gates is sympathizing with the end-user, particularly with the notion that DRM can be too restrictive and could cause headaches when legitimate users are unable to use their legitimately purchased music as desired.

His advice for the short term?

People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.

That’s a pretty interesting quote, especially coming from someone whose company advocates DRM as a means for protecting copyright. But I do think that’s sound advice, too.

However, I would say there may still be issues with regard to just ripping music off CDs and loading them onto iPods, Zunes and other digital media players. For instance, the recording industry would perhaps still frown upon the practice. Also, some territories still view ripping as illegal (such as in the UK)–yes, even for private purposes!

As for me, since getting a fifth-gen iPod (video) a couple of weeks back, I had been ripping old CDs left and right. I even go to the extent of borrowing CDs from friends and relatives so I can rip choice tracks into iTunes. And I can see where the problem lies, with regard to the legality behind ripping.

When someone buys a CD, does it mean he already owns rights to that particular copy of a song, or just rights to play that particular copy of the song. And does it mean that song can be played on that particular medium only (i.e., the CD), or in other forms. Further, what if I bought a CD, ripped it into iTunes, and sold the CD to another person? Should I delete my digital copy then because I no longer have rights to the original copy?

Ripping CDs may not exactly be as simple as we think, too, in terms of the legal implications. But for all intents and purposes, I think one should legally be entitled to transfer into other media any content that was legitimately acquired in the first place.

I’m with Bill on this!

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