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iData - Part1 “What is Data and Who Owns It”

by Jodee Hale-Schmid

August 19, 2010

Authored by David Kuketz, EIM Client Partner – Southeast, Utopia, Inc.

iTunes® allows me to search, learn about, and retrieve relevant songs that meet my tastes (specifications). I can then purchase (act upon) individual songs (rights), download a copy (digital representation) to my computer over a network and enjoy. I’m enabled to make lists of favorite songs (metadata with tags) and synchronize my playlists (BOMs, assemblies) to devices that allow me to listen to (use) that content in the arrangement I prefer (priority).

Who owns the song? Who owns the tags? Who owns the playlists? Who benefits from those tags and playlists? Let’s explore that. And let’s keep a keen eye on particular terms we’ll use to examine data ownership and value. Note also when I buy a song, Apple® sells it – and transaction is a process that involves yet other kinds of data that must be correct for the events to succeed.

But first, remember that a right may not necessarily entitle you to exclusive authority and responsibility over an object, but rather give you limite d access and control titled in your name, for a limited amount of time, or with other conditions and restraints (aka, license).

Somewhere around here I’ve got some old cassette tapes. I owned the cassettes, the tape in them, but not the music – I only owned the right to listen to it (as long as I had physical control). I could not copy, redistribute, or resell the music. My cassettes could be shared with friends and played on any cassette player (but not 8-track players) – and only one usage concurrently. For two concurrent users, we needed to have two cassettes of the same songs, and two players.

In order to keep up with technology, to upgrade, to avoid obsolescence, I had to upgrade my entire music collection (library of rights) to CD (a different media vs. cassette tape or 8-track) and also purchase CD players (different technology). Hmmm… my rights are being messed with.

Didn’t I already own the right to listen to those songs? Yes! But I only owned the right to listen to those songs in the previous format and only on devices that were compatible. Aha! Don’t you love entitlement – I hate it when what I feel entitled to is taken away, don’t you?

With iTunes® I’m re-purchasing again. You’d think these music authors, producers, “labels” and distributors made enough money on me already. Yet, I keep paying them over and over again for the rights to listen to the same old songs. But I love my music – it keeps my motor runnin’.



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