Phil Gyford

Writing

Thursday 23 October 2003

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Here’s a question. Let’s say someone breaks into your home and steals all your CDs. Let’s say you’ve wisely insured all your possessions, so you can claim for the CDs’ surprisingly high collective value. Let’s also say your CDs were stolen from your cupboard, where you put them after ripping every single one to your capacious hard drive.

So, we get round to the question. What is it that you’ve had stolen? You still have the music — the bits — and you never play the actual CDs these days anyway. It wouldn’t make sense to spend that surprisingly large amount of insurance money on replacing the hundreds of items you’ll never use (because, being sensible, you’ve also backed up all those bits). It’s as if you’ve only lost the now worthless and empty packaging. To put the question another way, what is it you’re actually insuring?

Comments

Why would someone steal the CDs and not the computer?

Even if they did, the CD packaging isn't necessarily worthless -- it probably includes liner notes, lyrics, etc.

If that doesn't matter, then I suppose you could use the insurance money to buy *different* CDs to rip to your hard drive, thus taking a 'new for old' replacement policy to its logical conclusion.

Posted by Laura Brown on 24 October 2003, 12:05 am | Link

What you're insuring is the proof of purchase, plus the original source.

As a law-abiding citizen, you know that the legality of the computer copies rests on the fact that you still possess the original CDs. (Otherwise, you could just rip the music and sell the CDs to someone else.) The moment you lose the originals, you have no way of proving that you obtained the music legitimately. The insurance is necessary so that you can buy back your "proof of purchase" and continue to use the computer copies with a clear conscience.

On a technical level, it is more than likely that you ripped the music using a lossy compression format like MP3, so the theft of the CDs would mean you had lost the sound quality of the originals (in that you could not reconstruct them from the MP3s). So if you ever wanted to play them on a nice hifi system (or do some sampling), you would appreciate having the original recordings.

Posted by Jonathan Vaughan on 24 October 2003, 10:29 am | Link

My friend insured his CD collection and was then broken in to. He could only get money back for CDs that we on the insurance company's list of 'known music'.

So, if you're into Phil Collins, you'll be alright (if a little sad) but anything else...

Posted by Dan...(iel) on 24 October 2003, 10:29 am | Link

Let's say you have a collection comprising Vinyl, Tapes and CD's
Let's say you haven't bothered to rip any of your CD's perferring to hear them unencumbered by the background noise of the PC/MAC
Lets say you have broadband and have a large and growing collection of downloaded MP3s.
Let's say that the day you decide to put all your music collection on the PC will be the day after you loose all your CDs.

Posted by Richard Hyett on 25 October 2003, 9:56 pm | Link
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CD or not to CD?
Just bought another CD.
At 'Listen to Musak' on Monday 27 October 2003, 11:36 PM