“Gosh, Johnny, so many CDs and I only have fifty dollars. I don’t know whether I should buy Dan Bern and Erasure, or perhaps KISS, Keb’ Mo’ and Nick Carter.”

“Well, I know what I’m going to do, Sally. I’m going to buy that new Justin Timberlake CD, then take it home and make a personal backup copy on my CD burner, thereby taking advantage of my fair use rights as described by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“Oh, you and your ‘fair use.’ Don’t you know that burning copies of CDs will cause the major labels to go under? And if they go out of business, we won’t be able to listen to great bands like 3 Doors Down and Audioslave?”

“If I purchase the CD then it becomes my property and I have a right to do whatever I want and… and… Hey, what’s that cloud of smoke next to those mirrors in the middle of the aisle? Look! There’s something, no, someone in that cloud of smoke, It’s… It’s…

“Greetings, music consumers! It is I, Hilary Rosen of the RIAA!”

“Hilary Rosen? The protector of music artists and record labels everywhere? To what do we owe this pleasure?”

“I’m here to tell you about the latest news from the recording industry. We’re going to save the record companies from going broke.”

“You mean you’re going to sign better artists?”

“No, nothing so drastic, dear consumer. We’re going to launch a bold new plan for CD copy protection.”

“You are? Wow! That’s great, Hilary! Uh… How does it work?”

“Soon, every CD you buy, no matter if it’s Yanni, Saliva or Disturbed, will have two separate sets of tracks.”

“You’re kidding! Two for the price of one, Hilary?”

“Well, not exactly, my little music fans. Both sets of tracks will be the same music, but the first set will play only on your stereo, not on your computer. That’s so you won’t be tempted to rip the tracks into MP3s and distribute them via file-sharing programs like Morpheus or Kazaa.”

“But… But… I’d never do anything like that, Hilary. Besides, I like listening to my CDs on my computer.”

“Ah, my little potential copyright bandits, that’s where the second set of tracks comes in. Depending on the artist’s wishes, as well as those of the benevolent folks who run the major labels, that second set of tracks will come with a set of rules specifying whether or not you can copy those tracks to your hard drive or a personal listening device. That way, the music industry will remain solvent and continue to sell you all the bands you love, such as Bon Jovi and R.E.M.

“And the artists’ copyrights will be respected?”

“Of course, my little music aficionados.”

“That’s great news, Hilary! You mean we’ll be able to buy, say, a Pearl Jam CD, listen to the first set of tracks on our stereo, then copy the second set of tracks to our computer?”

“Right on! Of course, the second set of tracks will be ‘protected.’ That way, heaven forbid, if you’re ever tempted to distribute those tracks on the Net, the protection will thwart your every attempt.”

“That’s wonderful, Hilary. But what about CD burners? Will I still be able to make my own personal back-up copy?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.”

“A back up copy. Will I still be able to make a personal back up copy on my CD burner.”

“I’m so sorry, but you’ll have to speak louder. I still can’t hear you.”

“Never mind him, Hilary. Johnny’s hung up on all this ‘fair use’ BS. However, there’s one thing I’m curious about. All this research and development to come up with a pirate-proof CD must cost a fortune. Who’s paying for all of this.”

“Well, my little music consumers, the initial costs are being shouldered by the major record labels.”

“But isn’t that expensive?”

“Don’t you worry about us, my little tune shoppers. Under our great capitalistic economic system, we’ll just pass the extra costs on to the consumers.”

“Wait a minute. Are you telling us that you’re going to limit what we can do with the CDs we pay for with our own money? Plus, you’re going to charge us extra for it? That’s… That’s… That’s preposterous!

“Preposterous? Oh, don’t be so silly. That’s not preposterous.”

“It’s not?’

“Oh, no, my little melody endusers. That’s the recording industry!”