By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Protection racket

Here’s something most of you already know, but which news reports like this one consistently miss: The digital-rights-management scheme on music sold by Apple’s iTunes Store is so weak that it’s scarcely worth mentioning.

It’s pretty simple: (1) Download a copy-protected song or an album from iTunes; (2) burn it onto a CD, which you are allowed to do. That’s it. The CD is as free of copy protection as one you would buy in a store. Thus you can re-rip it to any format you like.

Which means that I can’t see why people are so excited about the deal announced yesterday by Apple and EMI.


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  1. dan zarrella

    Trans-coding like that will mean you’ll loose quality.

  2. Mike P

    I agree with the previous commenter. People are forgetting what music is supposed to sound like. Compare an MP3 (or Apple’s own AAC format) of a song produced in the last 10 years to a good vinyl copy of a song recorded a few decades ago and it’s no contest. The technology is getting better – SACD and DVD-Audio are advances, but until we get it so that mp3s sound that good, most music will sound terrible.

  3. man who hates DRM

    I think people are excited mostly because the record labels and RIAA have made such a big deal about music privacy and DRM for many years now. It’s been such a monolithic drumbeat that any sort of “crack in the dam” is viewed as “only the beginning”.People have been predicting the death of the traditional music distribution/promotion/rights model for over a decade now. This could be a big step into that open grave.Or at least that’s what many anti-DRM fans are fervently hoping.And Dan Zarrella is right – that method means you will lose at least some audio quality. Potentially enough to annoy Joe Average if the wrong ripping codec is used. Plus it’s a hassle to burn a CD only to re-rip it again. Joe Average doesn’t like hassle.

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