I received an email from Josh in reply to my earlier post about the new iTunes 4.5 DRM. He points out that my mentioning of the DRM being cracked is misleading because it only allows networked-sharing of the tunes, and doesn’t actually strip them of the DRM. Yes, but cracked is cracked. It’s vulnerable, and I think intentionally so. Also, he mentions that we may have lost 3 burns, but at least we can authenticate more computers. A reasonable trade off? Maybe, but the point is that I didn’t pay for 7 burns and 5 computers. I paid for 10 burns and 3 computers, and Apple retroactively changed the rules on me without consulting me or compensating me.
Apple is walking a rather thin tight-rope with the iTMS right now. It’s an interesting balancing act they’re walking between bullying from the music industry and inconveniencing their customers. Josh also says: “I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years from now, we’re not entitled to burn these to CD’s *at all.* It’s the one avenue that Apple can’t protect.”
He’s right, and this is my major gripe. Because it isn’t really an Apple issue (because Apple is avoiding making it their issue); it’s the music industry intruding on our fair use rights. I was talking to an Apple rep the other day, and he said that Apple is just doing what it has to do to keep the record companies signed up, because, legally, the entire DRM legal contract is a bunch of blustery bullying as it contradicts prior laws about fair use. Legally, I should be able to make a copy in whatever format I want as backup and preservation of my property, just as I should be able to photocopy a 5 page chapter of a 800 page book that I own and need to read when I don’t want to lug around the 8 pound book.
Copying music only becomes illegal when you start distributing it widely (via peer to peer or multiple CDs that you distribute) or when you start selling or acquiring bootleg copies. DRM and the music industry’s approach to this issue throws innocent until proven guilty out the window, assuming guilt on the part of all consumers, and unnecessarily inconveniencing consumers and infringing on our rights as property owners. That’s totally messed up and wrong, and unfortunately, enough money is being thrown behind this wrong-headed and anti-American (in principle, I mean) movement where it risks eventually being made into a set of bad laws that continue to rob us of our rights (which seems easy enough to do in our current Patriot Act-backed unfree and un-American political atmosphere).
I can’t really hold Apple at fault for DRM, but I can hold the music industry at fault. I like the iTunes Music Store and prefer shopping online there over going out and buying an actual CD. Right now, the convenience of that over-rides the inconvenience of the DRM. However, if things keep on going the way they are going and no one stands up and points out how wrong this all is—whether that is Apple, one of the record labels, or some poor schlep who gets wrongfully sued for exercising his/her fair use rights—how it is bad business, bad law, and bad for business and for the law, then that dynamic is going to shift, and something else will be the more convenient way to go and iTMS will die (or more correctly, it will have been forced to commit suicide by the music industry, which itself is in its death throes and lashing out at all its would be allies: us, the customers).
Sorry for getting political. //rant off