If you think downloading a photo from the web entitles you to send it to 3,000 friends, YOU ARE WRONG. Unless the person who took the photo released it for unlimited use, he/she owns the copyright. This means that while you may have ONE copy for personal use, personal use does not mean you can post the image, print the image, or share the image any way you like. You need a specific license for that.
Fewer and fewer people pay attention to the matter of copyright. They ignore it, meaning the hard-working photographer, writer, or musician makes no money on his ro her work.
The issue of ownership vs. licensing is not academic, though it is abstruse. In point of fact the Supreme Court will be addressing exactly this question during the current term. The idea that you don’t own a work of art which you have purchased, only a license to display and use it specified ways, will not sit well with the public. But that is the foundation of copyright.
If the Court should rule that if you buy an iTunes song, you own it and that means you may do anything you like with it, musicians, writers, artists and photographers may as well go back to begging for patronage, because there will be no way to limit circulation if even a single copy is purchased.
The alternative might be to jack the purchase price of a song or photo into the thousands, leaving it to the original purchaser to recoup his/her costs by resale. But of course, that won’t work either.
Should the Court rule that licensing is the way to go, enforcement becomes a nightmare, one I'm qite sure the Supremes will NOT understand.
I hope that our various professional organizations are aware of this imminent disaster and are already filing amicus curia briefs with the Court — but somehow I doubt it.
Given the make-up of the current court, I shudder to think what they might decide.