Thursday, February 2, 2012

Family Values and DRM

Over the last few days, as I've downloaded music using the handful of iTunes gift cards that were left over from Christmas, Hanukkah, and my birthday, I've found myself wondering something.

I enjoy music, of all kinds.  But something else I enjoy is sharing said music with my kids.  Their nanos and Touches are filled with music that belongs to me.   I've purchased it, and if it is cool/appropriate, shared it with them.  If I encounter something that I appreciate, I want to pass appreciation for that thing to my kids.  When I download the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack for my own listening pleasure, it immediately populates their players.   It's the fun part of parenting teens and tweens, the part that involves you rocking out together in the van while on the way to drums/swimming/tutoring.

They do the same thing in return, connecting Dad with those things that the younglings are thinking and/or watching.  How else would I have learned of Nyancat, or watched the Epic Rap Battles of History?

Yet I am aware, as my older son grows even taller and high school looms on the horizon, that my boys are growing up.  Soon, Lord willing, they'll be leaving the nest.  That's just how life goes.

And when they do, what then happens to my ability to share with them?   I have no intent of stopping, of course.  But if most of the music is on the family account...hmmm.  I suppose, as things go to Cloud, that they could just continue to snag what they want from wherever they may end up.   This was less of an issue back when I was a lad, and the physical media I owned was the physical media I owned.  It was utterly distinct, physically different, from the collection of music that still rests on silent vinyl in my parent's house.

Everything I own also belongs to my children, and to the grandchildren that will eventually hopefully come.  And to their children, to the thousandth generation, as they say.  But as we go a generation deep into the digital era, I find myself wondering whether DRM and copyright will be used by corporations to trump genetics and inheritance.

I wonder if we'll reach a point where that becomes an issue, when corporations will look at fathers and sons who share a love for the same music, and attempt to prevent us from sharing music and joy across generations.  Will I be able to pass music to my grandchildren, the flesh of my flesh?  Will I be able to have them access my library, without fearing that the RIAA will come knocking at my door, lawyers snarling?

Interesting times, as they say.