Who owns silence? On the surface, this question seems as absurd as asking who owns sunshine. Yet, the sounds and music that surround us consist largely of silence; in the gaps between the notes to the quiet at the beginning and ending of recordings to recordings that contain nothing but silence alone. It is on the latter that Tunedeaf addresses.
Tunedeaf is an imitation of Apple’s iTunes website where specific sound files, encoded as high quality .wav files are available for download free of charge and copy protection. All the files posted on Tunedeaf are available from iTunes at their standard rate of $.99 per track. What all these files have in common is that they consist entirely of total silence. This material is available free of charge, in the hopes that it will inspire dialogue concerning the nature of ownership; if the ownership of silence seems absurd, is the ownership of sound not also equally as illogical?
As the mobile digital media becomes increasingly ubiquitous, the nature of that media inches toward the ephemeral; the physical CDs, cassettes, DVDs, etc. that were formerly produced and sold as physical tangible objects now exist largely in the ether as data, one and zeros. As such, questions have arisen as to how ownership can be applied to something that is now as intangible as the air. Who really owns the sound on your computer or CD player once it is purchased? The consumer? The record companies? To what degree does this ownership extend? Can something so ephemeral truly be owned in the first place? Whose sound files are more valuable, the ones given away on a promotional CD, on the performer's hard drive, or those downloaded from the internet? Tunedeaf asks these questions but assumes no answers.
Tunedeaf can be accessed at http://www.tunedeaf.com