iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served

To every iTunes Music Store sucker, thanks a billion

ABC News: iTunes: One Billion Served Crank up the old PR and spin machine. Apple today announced their one billionth iTunes download today. The song? Speed of Sound by Coldplay.

“Over one billion songs have now been legally purchased and downloaded around the globe, representing a major force against music piracy and the future of music distribution as we move from CDs to the Internet,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Personally I’ve never bought an iTune and I don’t own an iPod. I think Apple’s DRM is awful and represents a major step back for us all. I think those that are investing in iTune digital libraries are suckers. You are basically betting that Apple’s proprietary DRM laced format will be the standard for the rest of your life. You are paying too much for your music and tying yourself to only Apple products going forward. More innovative ways to play your music may indeed come in the future but unless they are marketed by Apple you will not likely be able to use these devices with your iTunes files due to Apple’s tight proprietary control.

Personally I want nothing to do with it. I still collect my digital music the old fashioned way, I rip it straight from CDs to crystal clear high bit rate DRM free mp3s. These files of course can be played on any device and represent better value in my opinion for today’s consumer.

What happens when the killer phone is finally here? You know the one, built in terabyte of storage, lightening fast file transfer speeds, full satellite radio, a breathalyzer, your car and house key, a tiny little thing the size of credit card with a 12 mega pixel camera on it (hey it’s the future right, we can dream). What happens when this phone is out and you really want it and unfortunately Apple didn’t make it? That’s right, you’re a sucker then aren’t you. I thought so. You paid all that good money for your iTunes and now you can’t put them on your new phone because your new phone threatens Apple’s dominance. So who owns the music anyway? You or them? They do. You bought nothing. You bought the right to play their song on their product. It might work today. But I’m not about to bet that this will be the format du jour 10 years from now.

Of course the record labels won’t care about you being screwed because they’ll be happy to just have you buy your same music all over again. Just like you did when you bought it on LP, then cassette, then CD then from iTunes. Why charge you once when they can keep charging you over and over and over again?

And if you think Apple will be opening up their proprietary format anytime soon, think again. Apple makes virtually nothing on their iTunes downloads, after paying the labels, marketing costs, bandwidth costs, etc. they make peanuts. They make a *ton* of money on the other hand on selling iPods. This was the genius deal between Steve Jobs and the hacks over at the record labels who are just as big of suckers as you are and basically have done nothing but cannibalize existing more lucrative CD sales. They were short sighted and never thought to try to get a piece of the hardware sale and now they are yammering on about raising iTunes prices on you because they are bitter dogs over the screwing that Jobs gave them. Jobs of course is quick to turn around and call them greedy hacks, but can anyone here say “pot” “black”.

They will do everything they can to protect this market including screwing over you the customer who mistakenly thought you bought a song from them.

Above and beyond all though this has done absolutely zero to stop online digital music piracy despite Jobs’ central point in Apple’s spin release this morning.

Just look at the latest P2P numbers from BigChampagne, and I’m not even going to get into BitTorrent which makes the numbers BigChampagne tracks look tiny. And this does not even begin to scratch all of the other ways that music is being traded. Let me ask you a question. Can you rip your friends CD on your PC? Yeah I guess you can. Can you rip your brother’s CD on your PC? Yep this works too. Can you copy your entire digital music library of 100,000 mp3s and give a copy to your brother on Seagate 500 gig drive? Theoretically it’s possible right? What about sneakernet? Again, theoretically. Would it be possible to send that same hard drive via the U.S. mail to your new friend that you met last month on your My Space account? And would it be considered sharing if he sent it back to you in the mail full of his own 70 or 80 thousand favorite tunes. Welcome to the darknet ladies and gentlemen.

And what if you are just dying to get the latest CD from that hot new band. Again, theoretically, would it be possible to go down to Amoeba records, buy it for $14, take it home and rip it, then return it within 7 days to get 75% credit back? What’s that like $3.50 for the new CD? And with 12 songs that’s like what 29 cents a track? Hmmm… would I rather have a crystal clear high bit rate mp3 track for 29 cents or a sure to be antiquated DRM bloated track from iTunes for 99 cents?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating piracy here, per se. But the way I see it, if Apple is going to go to war with me the consumer to lock up my music and keep it off my innovative new devices of the future, then this doesn’t really represent a valid step forward away from piracy at all.

It will also be interesting to hear what Xeni Jardin has to say about the billionth download later tonight. I can’t tell if she was on World News Tonight Last night or will be on next Thursday. I’ll try to find out.

Also for more on the iTunes saga be sure and check out downhill battle’s great site on the subject.

And….. let the Appleheaded fan boys flame comments begin…..5, 4, 3, 2, 1… now.

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233 Replies to “iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served”

  1. No flames here, but I buy iTunes stuff and immediately burn to CD and then rip back to MP3. I need a CD for my car and backup purposes anyway, and I rip the regular CDs I buy, so I’m not losing anything by going this route. My stereo equipment and ears aren’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference in sound quality, and it eliminates the DRM component of the music.

  2. Most of what you say is correct, or arguably correct, but my iPod only contains MP3s without DRM, mostly ripped from my own CDs. I don’t like the iTunes store either – doesn’t preclude me from owning and enjoying an iPod.

  3. OK, no flaming here, just a compliment. You make some very valid points in your write up, and yes itunes is a bit restrictive, but as someone who has limited disposable income, I would rather buy music one song at a time. But I understand your stance and it too is a good one!

  4. I was a sucker for about a year. Then I bought a Sonos system for home audio and was stuck with about 150 songs that were using Apple’s DRM, which is incompatible with Sonos. I burned all of those songs to CD’s and then ripped them to MP3. There have been a few songs that I have only been able to find on iTunes and on occasion I will download the free weekly song but aside from that my days of purchasing music on iTunes are over.

  5. let the Appleheaded fan boys flame comments begin…..5, 4, 3, 2, 1… now.

    Well, you suckered me over here.

    This household has 2 macs and 4 iPods, but rarely does music get purchased from iTunes. (But I do buy audio books occasionally.) I’ve bought a couple of albums, but only because the only other place I could get them was to order as an import for $30+ each, so I figured $9.99 was a good deal. And of course I instantly burned them onto CD-Rs and re-ripped them to remove the DRM.

    As long as you’ve got Amoeba in town (I used to live only a few blocks away), there’s probably no reason to buy off of iTunes. Problem is most places in the world don’t have an Amoeba.

  6. Yes, you can burn them to a CD but once you’ve invested in 10,000 songs how much fun and work is that going to be? And what about all of your metadata that you’ve customized? Will you be able to burn this over and transfer it to your new mp3 file. Admitedly I haven’t tried this but I suspect you might lose customized meta data that you entered. Burning everything to CD and then reripping is time consuming and something that you shouldn’t have to do — better to start with DRM free mp3s in the first place.

    And what happens when your laptop with your mp3s are stollen? How easy was it for you to backup your DRM laden tracks?

    Even if you don’t have an Amoeba near you, used CDs are everywhere in the world. While you may not get back 75% like Amoeba, they will always buy them back for you at some price and you still will likely end up saving over going the iTunes route.

  7. I bought iTunes songs and albums until v6 showed up… prior to v6 I freed my music with JHymm for personal use on my Roku SoundBridge or Samsung Yepp. I had the convenince of instant purchase and download with the ability to play the music on the devices of my choosing. Now forget it, I’ll buy a used CD off ebay and rip it.

    I downloaded two episodes of Battlestar Galactica yesterday and tried to watch them full screen on my laptop. Resolution and black levels were poor with artifacts. They need to bump up the resoluion and give me a simpler path to a television screen. Perhaps next week’s announcement will address that.

  8. “And what happens when your laptop with your mp3s are stollen? How easy was it for you to backup your DRM laden tracks?”

    Showed your hand that you don’t know anything about iTunes. Backup is as easy as backing up any data. And you put the backup on your new computer when you get one, import into iTunes, and simply put in your iTMS password when it asks for authorization for the new computer.

  9. Feh. Lighten up! 🙂

    For me, the iTunes Music Store is one avenue of many for expanding my music collection. I still buy CDs, I still digitize from vinyl, and I’ve been known to launch Acquisition X on occasion.

    I’m no fan of DRM, but iTunes’ is relatively innocuous compared to the likes of, say Sony’s. I consider it a reasonable tradeoff for the convenience of being able to buy individual tracks.

    And if My Fantasy Phone of the Future can’t play my iTunes tracks, I’ll just use my iPod to play them—just like I use my turntable to play my vinyl and my cassette deck to play my tapes.

    Anyhow, I will so never buy a phone that contains a breathalyzer.

  10. Anonymous, yes there are things that I don’t know about iTunes because I’ve admitedly never tried it.

    I do know fundamentally that I do not want tracks that can only play on Apple approved devices and as such will probably never get to fully try out the functionality.

  11. While I agree with pretty much everything in your post I don’t like the suggestion of buying, ripping & returning CDs. That’s theft plain & simple.

    Many of the CDs in my CD collection are still shrink wrapped, I bought them to “justify” the songs I downloaded off of KaZaA (or whatever). If a song I downloaded I didn’t like enough to buy the CD, I simply deleted it.

    Nowadays I don’t download music off of P2P sites, I don’t buy DRM’ed online music either. I also almost never buy major label music either. They have demonstrated pretty effectively that they don’t want me as a customer. (I never in my life bought more CDs than when I regularly used P2P sites to download music, every other week I was buying a new CD based off a song or songs I DL’d and liked)

    Nowadays I buy indie music, the stuff you can find on and buy from CD Baby. I’m thinking about trying out AllOfMP3, the legality of which is kind of a gray area but by my standard of ethics it’s OK.

  12. “I do know fundamentally that I do not want tracks that can only play on Apple approved devices and as such will probably never get to fully try out the functionality.”

    Fair enough. Your choice. Just don’t call people suckers for their choice that they have no problem with when the DRM really doesnt effect them.

  13. Oh for those that are advocating atking iTunes “Purchased” songs, burning them to CD then ripping to CD, let me break it down for you:

    1. Song gets ripped to DRMed AAC format by Apple, probably from a CD. (conversion 1)
    2. User pays for song, downloads file.
    3. User burns song to CD, AAC file gets converted to CD Audio format (again) (Conversion 2)
    4. User then rips song from CD to MP3 (conversion 3)

    So by the time you have the song in a format that lets you use it on anything but an iPod, within the iTunes application or on one of those hot selling ROKR mobile phones it’s been converted three times, if one had a song in MP3 format it would only be converted once.

  14. Thomas,

    You said:
    And what about all of your metadata that you’ve customized? Will you be able to burn this over and transfer it to your new mp3 file.

    CDex will fill in the same metadata on an iTunes-burned CD that it does on a “real” CD.

    Yes, you can burn them to a CD but once you’ve invested in 10,000 songs how much fun and work is that going to be?

    I’ve burned CDs from day one. I’d never let the songs build up, for precisely the reasons you mentioned.

    Burning everything to CD and then reripping is time consuming and something that you shouldn’t have to do — better to start with DRM free mp3s in the first place.

    Agreed. But it still can be more convenient to download from iTunes, burn and rip than to buy a used CD and wait three days to get it. My cutoff for used CDs is that if I can get them for less than $10, including tax and shipping, I go that route.

    And what happens when your laptop with your mp3s are stollen? How easy was it for you to backup your DRM laden tracks?

    Once I have MP3s, this is a data backup issue like photos or anything else. I see Apple’s DRM’d tracks as disposable. If I were to lose all my MP3s, I’d re-rip my CDs.

  15. I don’t generally buy songs from the iTunes store because I don’t want to buy compressed files. I also like the artwork and liner notes, etc… However, I enjoy my iPod immensely.

    And while I am not a fan of DRM, the iTunes DRM is pretty lax compared to what was suggested before they launched the store.

  16. Anonymous, my point in the sucker comment is that as devices change in the future your iTunes songs may very well not work on them. While a certain amount of this is just technology moving forward, you are more likely to be able to use your content stored in mp3 format than iTunes format. It is myopic to think that the world of digital media of today will stay the same. Personally I feel like I’ve been a sucker for buying music in the past on LP, then cassette, then CD, etc.

    Getting the content in a DRM free state makes the most sense to protect me from feeling like a sucker again in the future. It also is the best way to protect my own personal rights with regards to fair use and the content.

    I think too many people do not even begin to consider what their music library mightlook like in 20 or 10 or even 5 years.

  17. Robert, you make a good point about the stealing thing. My point though is that if valid alternatives are not available more people will resort to piracy.

    There are those who would also say though that after being price gouged by the record labels all these years (I know that I personally have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on music) that taking back a bit is basically just tit for tat. Obviously it was the consumer’s choice to overpay, rebuy music, etc. but it doesn’t mean a bad taste isn’t left and now that the power equation has shifted there may be less compassion for the profits of big record labels than there were in the past.

    I am not advocating anyone do anything illegal — how one handles their music ethics comes down to individual choice and personal ethics though. Your choice is admirable and valid, but I can also certainly sympathize also with those that feel that they have been overcharged in the past and would prefer to reprice their own music in the future — especially when DRM schemes remain closed and proprietary.

  18. I think too many people do not even begin to consider what their music library mightlook like in 20 or 10 or even 5 years.

    Do you even think the CD will be the standard sold format that far into the future? I am pretty sure it will be replaced by another format. A format that will offer higher sampling rates and will contain a DRM mechanism on the disc.

  19. Anonymous, the CD very well may be replaced as well, but I imagine it will take a while and there will still be plenty of used CDs floating around — cheap old music.

    Still, if I’m betting on which format will be more veratile in the future mp3 or iTunes, I’ll pick mp3.

  20. I’ve worked in IP for 20 years and have had much of my work stolen, so I prefer to pay for my music. I love my iPod (black 4gig Nano) and the integration with iTunes.

    I have bought about 20 songs, mostly impulse buys that I have to have now (or one-hit wonders where I don’t want to wate $15 on an album). Most of my music is from CD’s that I’ve bought over the years.

    What’s not being discussed here is that Apple has the best hardware/software solution so far. Fairplay let’s me use my music on several computers, buy single tracks or albums, and back them up to audio CD so I can rip them to MP3. Yeah, it’s a hassle, but where is a comparable Microsoft solution?

    I also think $1 per song is a fair price.

    I really like the video store. I’ve bought a few episodes of Lost so I could catch up, and the quality was better than expected.

    Hopefully I won’t sound like an Apple “fanboy” since I own a Powerbook and a Media Center. 😉

    – Mike K

  21. Interesting, but it’s a bit obvious you’ve written on a subject or technology you haven’t tried yet. I mean, really…. I’ve been buying most of my music on iTunes for about 2 years now; maybe dozens of albums, a few hundred songs, yet I possess zero ACC files on any of my machines. I’ll buy an album, immediately rip to CD, print a CD cover for a case to store on the shelf, yank in mp3’s at 160kBPS, then delete the ACC songs I just bought. I don’t see a problem here. No DRM, no apple formats, I’ve got a near-ripoff store-like copy on the shelf for backup, and then maximum quality mp3’s to share all over work and home. The other option is what?… rent my music on a napster-ish site? Be my guest. I challenge anyone, no.. ask for, anyone to show me a better way to buy and own music to do with what I please.
    Fact: No restrictions. No DRM. This is in fact less effort than buying a CD, then ripping it etc…

  22. To expand on what I wrote earlier, because you seem to be conflating and confusing the issue: MP3s and iTunes are not mutually exclusive. I have over 150 gigs worth of MP3s, converted at high bit rate from physical CDs that I’ve purchased over the years- I only listen to music via iTunes or via an iPod (driving, on the El, walking, wherever) or via custom CDs that I’ve created with iTunes. Less than .01% of these songs are in a format other than MP3.

    So I don’t understand your comment:
    “Still, if I’m betting on which format will be more veratile in the future mp3 or iTunes, I’ll pick mp3.” because it doesn’t make sense.

  23. Of course an iPod can play regular MP3’s, but Jobs would prefere you didn’t.

    The AAC crap is the issue, and a large number of iPoders drink the Kool-Aid regularly and have no idea there even >is< an issue.

  24. And what happens when your laptop with your mp3s are stollen? How easy was it for you to backup your DRM laden tracks?

    What happens when your house burns down? How easy is it for you to backup your DRM-less MP3s?

    Straw man arguement, there.

  25. A couple points:

    1. The only reason the Apple’s DRM holds up securely is because Apple issued cease & desist orders on fairTunes et al. If/when Apple falls out of the market, I’m sure FairPlay will be quickly taken care of.
    2. Who says Apple won’t quit using FairPlay? I bet it was mostly a leverage tool to use with the record companies. Now that they see that sales are up overall, why hold on to the DRM? It’d be a quick fix in iTunes and Quicktime to ignore the DRM.
    3. People who bought vinyl in the 70’s didn’t consider that all vinyl would be obsolete 20 years later. At least digital files are pretty much here to stay, and you can quickly and easily convert (even in iTunes – “Convert Selection to [format]”).

    I realize this is a personal blog and post, but once it reaches ./ level some research would be nice.

  26. Peanuts x 1 Billion = $$$

    Oh and I think your use of the term suckers is a bit strong, more like people who find iTunes easy to use and functional.

  27. I can’t believe your piece of shit blog and this equally shitty post made it on to slashdot.

  28. First off, let’s take a step back and a deep breath and understand where DRM is coming from. It’s not an Apple invention. If Apple could sell songs online without DRM don’t you think they would? Blame the record companies, they’re responsible for the mess (yes, the same record companies you’re funding through your CD purchases).

    I buy very few songs from iTunes simply because I think the bitrate is unacceptable. If I’m going to pay $10-11 for a digital download of an album where there are no traditional costs (duplication, packaging, shipping, retail) to the record company, can’t I at least expect lossless quality? Apparently I can’t. And that’s infuriating. I don’t have a shiny CD to hold in my hand and pretty liner notes to look at, I have to worry about backups, I can’t loan my music to my friend, I have inferior quality, yet I’m paying the same amount? That’s just robbery, and it’s the record companies holding the gun.

    So if we’re going to rant and rave, let’s do it about online music distribution in general and the record companies’ endless refusal to embrace the future and change their business model. This is not Apple’s fault, Apple is just the middleman with his hands tied behind his back.

    The last time I checked, the only way to buy label-grade DRM-less and lossless music online is through a certain Russian website that’s equivalent to just ripping the music off. And if I’m going to steal, why should I pay to do it?

    What really needs to happen is an explosion of used CD sales. Buy a used CD, rip it, trade it back in at a small loss. Perhaps the record companies would get the message if everyone embraced this approach for awhile.

    I yearn for the day when I buy my music directly from the artists and record companies are but a bad memory. And that day is coming.

  29. Thomas, I think you ought to post an update or errata of some sort. People have brought up way too many mistakes in your arguments, and the main point now is barely holding up.

    First it was the “songs-are-stuck-in-itunes”, torn by cd burning. Then the backup part, shown to be a weasel argument at most.

    Just in case you are still not convinced: Apple makes “peanuts” in iTunes? Nearly 10% of revenue is peanuts now?

  30. All this worry about the itunes format is a lot about nothing. As a computer scientist I can tell you beyond any doubt that DRM simply can not work in the long run. If they encrypt a file and then hand you the very key you need so that you can play it, and then to think that you can’t just “read” it (e.g. convert to another format) is absolutely senseless. The only thing that will prevent you from enjoying your purchased music is the stupid laws that they are passing to keep you from using what you just bought and payed for. Keeping you from using yours does not keep someone else from sharing theirs. The sooner that the RIAA learns that the better because they are only making their “social problem” bigger by doing stupid things, and they are making the problem worse every day they continue this illogical nonsense.

  31. Seriously how can you write about a service you never even used? Even worse call people that use the service suckers?

    Thats like saying people who buy Ferrari’s are suckers while driving around in your cute little Corolla.

    It’s a matter of preference.

    I can’t see how you could possibly compare the price of ‘returned music’ to a legal service. If there wasn’t rampant piracy in the world we wouldn’t have DRM in the first place.

    FYI, iTunes is also about convenience. Call me a sucker but I buy the song I want when I want. Within minutes I’m bopping to new songs on my iPod.

  32. I don’t think your beef is really with Apple. As you say, their business is selling iPods, not songs. I doubt Apple cares much about DRM beyond the fact that it allows them to make deals to distribute iPod content as part of an overall experience.

    It’s certainly convenient for the labels that Apple takes the blame for these sorts of things, but it’s the record companies that are creating this environment. If Apple withdrew all of its DRM, all that would happen is all of the record companies would migrate to some Microsoft solution, and I think the music world would be worse off for it.

    I wrote something on this before:

  33. What you say makes a good deal of sense.

    Apple’s hardware, including iPod, is overpriced (compare, $110 for a tiny 20GB Archos Gmini) and buying songs at 128Kbps(!) is just dumb, in my opinion, with or without DRM.

    Apple’s products are for people who have more money than sense.

  34. Being a raving troll neither wins you respect, nor makes a valid point. Just there you advocated theft, professed to knowing nothing about a system you proceeded to bash, and shied away from any trace of moderation on your quest for Apple hatred. And at the end, to cap it off, you made a blatantly immature and provacative jab at -anyone- who might dissagree with you.

    If you want to make a point, pretend to be intellegent.

    Now, I’m perfectly content with a phone and an iPod- A phone for calling people, an iPod for music. It’s not like I can’t handle carrying around an extra quarter gram. It’s a convenient way to store music, and even if it does become obsolete, I’ll store my new music on my phone. No bother. There’s no hassel, no problem, no need to call me a “sucker” because I bought the odd song that will never be a problem to me in any way.

    I have no idea who gave you these ideas about iTunes and its users, but ask him never to speak to you again. I think I’ll take a piece of my own advice now. Have fun, now, and don’t steal the other children’s candy.

  35. Nice rant, however, Apple isn’t the real culprit here — all DRM is. Looking at the DRM models that other online major online digital music retailers have, Apple is actually the *least* invasive of all of them. The real joke is services like Napster, which you don’t actually own anything at all and they “turn off” all your music the minute you stop paying their blood money. Apple, in contrast, strikes a fairly reasonable balance.

    Of course, I agree with you that DRM is evil and should be avoided at all costs… however, I think you have unfairly singled out Apple – which seems to be fighting for the consumers a little bit… unlike the other alternatives out there which seem to be bending to the RIAA’s every idiotic whim.

  36. I agree with the comment about online music distribution in general. Where is this “nominal” 99 cent fee going anyway? It’s not the artists. It’s not Apple, and how much does it really cost to make a song available for download anyway?
    It’s going to the label. But ask yourself this: Where would record labels be without their artists? Nowhere. This is precisely why things cannot go on the way they are forever. As more new artists discover services like where they can actually take a decent percentage of the sale of their music, the recording industry will be forced to evolve or die. Finally, if they really have to slap DRM on our music, couldn’t they at least make it sound good by offering some type of lossless codec or at least a high bitrate lossy one? Why do consumers put up with this?

  37. Anonymous,

    You are in fact a sucker. While you are having to carry around a separate iPod and cell phone, my Audiovox combines the two into one and allows me to listen to any mp3 that I’m interested in.

  38. By and large, I agree… I mostly torrent music, or buy used CD’s from or ebay – really the best deal, legal and cheap.

    I’ve started buying a few iTunes, though, since I found a way to think about it that makes sense. Yes, a dollar a song with DRM is pricey and limiting compared to used CD’s or, of course piracy. But it’s quite a good deal compared to a jukebox.

    If you want to hear a song at a bar $1 for 3 songs is normal, exhorbitant but normal. So, $1 to hear a song now, and over and over for as long as Apple’s in the game – or forever if I rerip to MP3, really isn’t a bad deal.

    You also mention the super-duper credit card computer – by then, music will almost certainly be flat-fee subscription streamed (at least music made, oh, before 2007), so anything you buy or download will be a waste then…

    check out some equally idle speculation I wrote about iTunes, Apple, and Disney, and the iPhone.

  39. anyone tried the store? They *sell* mp3s for the same price as the itunes store and no DRM crap there as far as i know.
    i havent tried it myself, cause i dont own an mp3 player, but might be of interest to people here.

  40. Nice post, but hey, nothing stops me from burning my .m4a itunes tracks on to a CD and re-ripping them back on my computer as .mp3s. 😀


  41. I consider myself a huge “Appleheaded fan boy.” but I agreed with all of what you said. However, I thought it was lame the way you said it. Your writing style comes off like it was written by some angsty High Schooler hell bent on stirring up some shit.

  42. Burning to a CD and re-encoding to MP3 is not a viable alternative.

    I highly recommend you pick a song in your DRMed AAC library, make a AAC –> CD –> MP3, and then borrow the real CD from a friend. You can make an MP3 from the original CD if you like also.

    Now do a blind listening test using either a quality pair of headphones or a decent set of speakers. Your iPod earbuds do not count.

    It depends on the song, but you will hear the quality differences if you play the songs back to back. I say it depends, because some songs will lose out on the high notes, while others will end up with really crappy bass, but you will hear a difference.

  43. You folks burning iTunes-purchased songs to CD and then re-ripping to MP3 are really screwing up the sound quality. AAC doesn’t sound that great to begin with.

    At least lots of recent devices handle the AAC standard, but iTunes’s.m4p protected files are awful. Soon every electronic device will play MP3/AAC files, but only Apple-branded ones will play iTunes-purchased songs. That just sucks for consumers who want to buy music downloads!!

    jHymn and QTFairUse don’t work with iTunes v6. Sure, in theory each generation of iTunes DRM will be cracked, but we’ve been waiting a while (I gave $50 to DVD Jon, but it’s a thank-you gesture with no expectation or guarantee of a deliverable).

  44. MP3 encoding has always sounded like crap. Not crystal clear as you state. When I heard the AAC format that Itunes uses, I was hooked. Finally, digital music that sounds great. I have been a fan ever since. I have only purchased a few DRM leden tunes because I have 100s of CDs and when you rip them with itunes, they are not protected so its just like a MP3. I may get burnt in the long run but I had 1000’s of old albums. It won’t be the last time either.

  45. I’d have to say, get used to it. DRM is here to stay. By the time your “killer phone” comes out, you won’t be able to buy any new music for it, because CDs will have gone the way of the vinyl and the dodo bird. I buy iTunes because all other M$ DRMed music sucks and doesn’t work on my ipod or my mac and not very well on my PC without headachs and complications. I buy iTunes because it’s easy, and I want to listen to my music, not spend all Saturday afternoon at the record store rumaging through CD bins and ripping them off to my computer. I guess I could also just steal off the internet and go to jail, and sometime later to hell, but I gave that up a whle ago.

    1 Sucka served.

  46. You could call all the iPod users suckers, man tha is funny. I have an iPod, mostly with my music on it from CDs. Apple has made taking your music with you and buying it very easy and that is what the music industry was looking for. I am sure the way you do your musice works too, but for the vast majority of music persons out there the way iTunes and iPod lets you do that is just way to easy. The DRM is crap but I guess they will have to cross that bridge when they come to it. Nice post and that is coming from a Applehead I think?

  47. Look, bottom line is this. AAC is an unnecessary speed bump. While it may be the only way that Apple can get away with iTunes it still is a pain in the ass.

    Yes, we’ve had to pay to upgrade our music from LP to casette to CD to… in the past but this is bullshit. We live in a digital world and we are now pushing the limits of quality vs. what our ears can distinguish. When I rip crystal clear high bit rate mp3s from CDs they are as good as I need to get. Any incremental benefit is meaningless to me.

    By storing my music in DRM free high bitrate mp3s I will most likely never ever ever have to buy my music again.

    And to the guy who said what about when my house burns down. That’s why offsite backups are created.

    My music library is large, very large, much larger than most. It would not be feasible for me to have to spend all that time circumventing Apples DRM. It is a hell of a lot easier to put 200 CDs into a Sony CD/DVD changer (yeah, Sony, I get the irony) and tell my PC to rip all the music into high bit rate mp3s complete with full metadata while I sleep at night than to screw around with trying to circumvent AAC.

    And to the argument that Apple is not the real culprit the music is, agreed. Yet still, Apple could open up their AAC format to play on other non Apple devices to take a little bit of the sting out of it.

    Like Davis I too listen to my music on an Audiovox SMT 5600 cell phone. I like the fact that when I’m listening to my player and a phone call comes in that it pauses my music and lets me take the call through my headphones/mic and then the music starts playing again where I left off after my phone call. Had I been listening to an iPod I would have missed the phone call. Unfortunately AAC will not play on that phone and that is by edict of Apple not the music industry.

    Yes, you can circumvent Apple’s DRM, but when you start talking about thousands of songs it becomes a pain in the ass and I’d rather get it right the first time.

  48. I agree except ogg vorbis instead of mp3. Get rid of all proprietary formatts so you don’t have to pay any company to play your music files.

  49. Some of the folks here are nuts- downloading compressed song, converting to cd audio, then _recompressing_ the song. What the @%$#^ is wrong with you? Wht not just stick a microphone in front of the speaker and re-record it that way?

    Bt accepting Fairplay you are telling the Music industry that we’re ok with them telling us what we can do and when. Next thing you know they will be telling you what time of day you can listen to the songs and at what volume. Eventually you will have to register your headphones so that they can be sure you aren’t letting your friends listen to the songs you bought. You need to understand that DRM is a slippery slope. Either it gets stopped now or before you know it you won’t have any rights at all.

    I only buy used CD’s specifically because I won’t steal music but I sure as hell don’t want to give the recording industry any more money.

    Piracy is an economic problem- solve it economically. Where the hell does the Music industry get off charging $1.00 for a lossy song? You end up paying as much for a bunch of compressed songs which have far smaller distribution costs than you do for a physical CD which is of higher quality, includes it’s own backup, has cover art, and has an actual distribution cost. Instead of wasting money on dumb DRM schemes and lawsuits (which do nothing but piss off your client base) try lowering the price of the music. A lossy song is not worth more than 50 cents. Period.

    The real question is why the $10 billion a year entertainment industry gets to tell the $10 billion a week tech industry what to do.

    To the person who said the recording industry should have demanded a cut of iTunes sales- get real. Jobs doesn’t need the recording industry- he could have let people steal songs off P2P networks and use those on their iPods. iTMS was created because Jobs wanted to create a legal download service to provide end to end integration. The fact is, however, that the iPod was a hit long before iTMS.

    There are countless other arguments to be made here but for those who believe in their rights there is no need- and for those who don’t care- no amount of argument will make a difference.

  50. Jesus christ. I can’t believe someone with such little understanding of the technologies at hand, could get slashdotted. Hahaha. Good for a laugh anyway.

  51. Well if your like any other music consumer who cares. Every 5-15 years you rebuy all your music for a new format anyway. At least with iTunes its quick and easy to buy and it works with the really nice iPod you got.

    Its not like you actually own the music in any format anyway. Now thats not saying that in the present environment ripping used CD’s isn’t a better value, well maybe there not. My time is worth something and iTunes is a lot quicker then a trip to Amoeba and then endless hours of ripping. Plus who wants a whole CD worth of songs anyway a good album these days has 4 good songs on it.

  52. Anyone who says they burn their iTunes tracks to CD and then rip it to mp3 is an idiot. Think about what you’re doing. You took a digital track, made a physical copy, and ripped the copy. It shouldn’t be that hard.

  53. “Look, bottom line is this. AAC is an unnecessary speed bump. While it may be the only way that Apple can get away with iTunes it still is a pain in the ass.
    And to the argument that Apple is not the real culprit the music is, agreed. Yet still, Apple could open up their AAC format to play on other non Apple devices to take a little bit of the sting out of it.”

    Thomas, seriously, before throwing firebombs you should check your facts. AAC is not DRM. AAC is an encoding format, as is MP3. You might call AAC the logical successor to MP3. And AAC is not an Apple-owned format. What Apple sells in iTunes are songs encoded in AAC and wrapped in DRM called FairPlay. It’s the FairPlay DRM that belongs to Apple. However, I can rip all my CDs in the AAC format with no DRM. Which is what I do, since AAC sounds as good to me or slightly better than MP3 LAME, and encodes much faster on my Mac. (Of course I rip everything to Apple Lossless first for my archives…).

    And as far as Apple opening up “their AAC format,” what you mean is Apple opening up FairPlay, their DRM layer. Any device manufacturer could include AAC on their devices (and why more don’t is a mystery to me), it’s AAC files with Apple’s DRM (FairPlay) that are off limits to the Creatives/iRivers/etc. of the world. And why not? Apple created iTunes to sell more iPods, not to make a fortune selling songs online. Why would they subsidize the iTunes Music Store for people who would rather buy cheaper Korean iPod knockoffs? Is that good business sense? Should Creative get to make an easy buck selling MP3 players that work with iTunes, with Apple doing all the software development work and maintaining the huge infrastructure required to run the iTunes Music Store? I think not.

    And if this seems uniquely unfair, I seem to recall a certain company called Microsoft became a market dominator by keeping a leash on its Office document formats, no?

    And speaking of Microsoft, while everyone is ranting and raving about Apple and AAC and DRM, no one thinks to mention that all the legitimate competing services use Microsoft’s proprietary format (WMA) that also uses Microsoft’s proprietary DRM. Yet Microsoft tells us they represent “choice” (PlaysForSure) and amazingly manages to do so with a straight face. Hmmm…

    If I’m going to get shackled to someone’s proprietary controls, thanks to the record company overlords, it sure as heck ain’t going to be Microsoft’s.

    You may already understand the whole AAC vs. FairPlay thing (doubtful, since you’ve never used iTunes), but if you do it’s not clear from your comments.

  54. i bought 1 CD from itunes well i guess 2 since it was a 2 disk set burned them riped them and secided i’m not doing that again for all my trouble time and media cost i could have bought the real disks

    so i went searching found a place that hits you for a dime a track if it’s under 60 seconds it’s free and if you buy the whole disk they take off 10% so some whole disks cost as much as a single itunes track it’s all high quality MP3s no DRM and the selection is HUGE compared to itunes

    about 9 CDs later i’ve barley burned $15 of the origional 30 i put in (it’s prepay) if you think i’m ever shopping itunes again you need to get your head checked

    google mp3search if you want to find the store


  55. This hasn’t been a problem, except for the un-educated. All of these formats are interchangable with the correct software. the software is free, and easy to use.

    It does seem rather odd to see a post like this show up just a few days before the launch of “the Orgami Project”.

    Perhaps Microsoft is trying to seed the doubt, so they can push more obsolete, difficult to use, DRM laced contraption on the world. Can any of you say “Altrak”?

  56. What’s stated in this posting can apply to ANY DRM system. It’s clear the industry wants DRM, it’s an evil we’re probably going to be forced to live with.

    If anything, the iTunes/iPod popularity has contributed to sustaining a profitable system that can survive over the long haul, making it a “safer” investment.

    Although I too would recommend investing too much in any DRM’d system, your rant is fairly lopsided, acrid and clouds the substance of your argument.

    You catch more flies with honey…

  57. “I do know fundamentally that I do not want tracks that can only play on Apple approved devices and as such will probably never get to fully try out the functionality.”

    I am a total MS person. All workstations at home are XP. I run a tablet for work. I have a Windows Mobile phone, etc, etc….and I own an iPod Mini. You’re ignorance of the device and the software is astounding yet you felt qualified to write about it. I’ve bought roughly 10 songs on iTunes, then turned around, burned them to CD, and re-ripped them. Yes you do lose some audio quailty going from one lossy format (ACC) to another (MP3) but at least you no longer have the DRM issues. Plus I can tolerate .99 cents for a single song that I am not going to pay $15 for a full CD. The rest of my iTunes library is all MP3 ripped from my CD collection. MP3 works on iPods. Unless there is going to be a total shift in the digital music scene that dumps the MP3 format, iPods will play those songs with no problems. What about this don’t you get?

    As for your comment on those that have bought 10000 tracks. First off, what do you care? Secondly, if they back up data to either CD or an external drive, then the songs and the data are readily availble. If your hard drive crashes all you have to do is copy the data back and you’re good to go. No different than the current MP3 collection you have. You admit to doing the same thing so how is it any different if I backup my iTune’s directory and restore it after a problem than how you restore your music folder after a problem?

    The big issue here is DRM. Is it silly that there is the Apple version and the Sony version and the MS version? HELL YES! The digital music industry should focus on creating one DRM standard that everyone follows. God fobid they would do that though. Instead they are creating new ways to screw the consumer into paying for music that we already purchased. You want to read something scary? Read this:

  58. Full ACK! Every word you say. What really makes me mad is: when I was was 15 me and my friends could record tapes for us, all I needed was our stereo racks, we could even trade demo tapes around the world with almost no legal hasseling. Today everything became almost too complicated and limited for most of my friends, esp. for those who are not into bit rates, DRM, formats etc. They simply want to hear their music. The effort to painlessly enjoy music with others simply grows for the non-geek. Buy a mp3, burn it to CD, encode it again? For let’s say 20 tracks? C’mon, what a shitty service is that? Should I recommend to write a shell script for that???

  59. If you think Itunes is bad, just wait.

    When Vista comes out, the’ll be locking out your hard drive so that you only have the ‘right’ to use Windows — and that will be locking up all sorts of content.

    I’m waiting for the first virus that locks up user data with a random encryption key. … Run. Run screaming from DRM.

  60. I wonder if everyone who advocates burning their itunes downloads to CD and reripping realizes that then there’s no point in paying itunes in the first place – when you strip the DRM you’re breaking your EULA with itunes, and probably going against DMCA as well, so you might as well have pirated the CD in the first place.

  61. It’s especially great that someone like “mike k” who has such great experience with theft of IP thinks it’s ok to ignore Apple’s (really RIAA’s) imposed IP regulations in this case.

    It’s like everyone knows it’s illegal to break into a car sitting at a rental agency and drive home with it, but thinks it’s completely ok to rent the car for a given time, ignore the terms of the rental agreement, and just do whatever they wish with it.

  62. I’ve not read through the post, but what I want to sayis that….

    Software is absolutely different to hardware!

    And, if iTunes was not that restrictive, I’m sure those music companies won’t compromise so easily.

  63. Excellent way to win people over to your view, by calling them suckers.

    You really should be nice to people who might not know any better, you dickhead !

  64. All you spastics who spend time and effort burning cds and then ripping them are stupid. There are easyier ways. And DRM wuldn’t be there is the world wasn’t filled with pirates.

  65. Ok… this is … well.. the same argument… a thousand times…..


    You can use (legally) Apples OWN DRM to remove the DRM on your purchased tunes without violating either DMCA or the EULA at least in a small area that even the RIAA is DEEPLY afraid of….

    There is code out there… but here is the basic point… use a legitimate itunes account >> decode to sound >> recode to original format – DRM ….

    THAT IS NOT purposeful subversion of encryption (DMCA), because you are encoding a NON-ENCRYPTED stream of data … (the sound).. amd is not a device (HW/SW) created simply to avoid encryption, since you are using apple’s own software to PLAY THE SOUND…

    it is not purposeful “re-mastering” or “re-distribution” (EULA) as long as you are using it under your protected federal right to back up any media you have purchased the RIGHT TO USE… (caveat — apple could still technically, at any time, order you to destroy all copies and you get NOTHING…. } … the funny part is that it is a EULA violation if you destroy the original encrypted work and then retain the BACKUP…

    side note — this would also apply to the burning of the CDs as BACKUPS… once you re-encode them … you are required to destroy the CDs, because the EULA only allows for one “method” of backup (and it wouldn’t have that if the fear of being sued wasn’t on their minds…) p.s. that restriction is allowed… 92′ I believe…

    ok… trying to move past all the wasted time and breath on legal issues….

    way the hell at the top…. I agree that apple is forcing people into a technology scheme that is… a bit closed. Try to keep in mind that encoding to mp3 isn’t legally open either (i know, long confused discussion)…. AAC is an open standard that has been warped by DRM that is manufacturer specific… kinda like Microsoft.. oh well… I agree with the original post… this is a dangerous sucker play, but I don’t think apple will abandon this for the next… i think they will offer migration … the power of the all-mighty dollar…

  66. Yeah man, have you looked at Sony and their SonicStage? I bought an Hi-MD 1GB minidisc recorder (only minidisc was a good solution which records in pcm or atrac and small form factor and good price) to record my own music via mic in. Guess what? It was DRM protected! Unlockable with SS but man! And SS, that’s such a piece of crap. I bet Apple is going this good because their SW and HW offering is just way better. I have no personal experience however.

  67. Yeah man, have you looked at Sony and their SonicStage? I bought an Hi-MD 1GB minidisc recorder (only minidisc was a good solution which records in pcm or atrac and small form factor and good price) to record my own music via mic in. Guess what? It was DRM protected! Unlockable with SS but man! And SS, that’s such a piece of crap. I bet Apple is going this good because their SW and HW offering is just way better. I have no personal experience however.

  68. Sheesh… the author is off the mark here. He should just go to the store, plunk down some $ for an iPod Nano or a video iPod and give it a whirl. He doesn’t even need to buy any music from their music store (iTMS). If he doesn’t like it, if he can’t return it, he can sell it for not that much of a loss.

    You can still rip all your CDs to MP3 w/iTunes and you’ll get all the great metadata automatically thanks to CDDB support built right in. Syncing it over is just as simple as plugging in the device.

    Before I actually got an iPod (which I got for free thanks to TiVo referrals credits), I just figured it was another MP3 player and that it looked cool. Now I’ve seen the light.

    As for songs, I’ve only bought 1 song from iTMS so far, the other 33 I got were from an Audi test drive promo. They hit the nail on the head. The experience of finding, preview, buying and sycning is almost painless. You can free copying the DRM purchased songs to whatever media you want, but in order to play them on that machine [short of burning to red book audio CD], you have to authorize that machine [by just entering your username and password when it asks]. You can authorize up 5 and you can deauthorize them if you wish. It seems like a decent # to me. Two of my PCs and 1 of my Macs is authorized [I’m a PC guy at heart and have been using them since 83, I’m not a Mac head.].

    I still would buy CDs if I want the better sound quality and if most of the songs were good. But, if only 1 or 2 are good and the single is too costly, I’d be ok for paying $1 for a song. The quality is “good enough” for the environments where I listen to them [2 cars: 1 is very noisy].

  69. If you convert AAC->CD->MP3, what you’re doing is taking a lossy-compressed audio file, copying it, then doing another lossy compression. This is a very bad idea if you care at all about audio quality.

    So if you care about quality, the author’s point that iTunes may cause your music collection to become obsolete in the future is absolutely correct.

    The main reason I’ll always choose a CD over DRMed lossy-compressed formats is I’m buying the music before it’s been encrypted and therefore I can always compress from the full quality version to a format which is compatible with my devices (at the moment I’m ripping everything to 192kbps Ogg Vorbis).

  70. Obviously – there are no content creators posting here.
    As a creative professional who has had copyrighted material stolen and subsequently cost me thousands of dollars in losses, i find the notion of stealing music or other media as being o.k. to be absolurely reprehensible. When did theft become o.k.?
    There is literally billions of dollars of pirated material being trafficked on p2p servers and other channels. So for that fact and the rampant dishonesty of users, DRM becomes neccessary, just like deadbolts, car alarms, and security systems.
    I really wish that people could be honest and that DRM was truly useless, but that aint the way it boils down. People steal and people like me are going to depend on DRM. I hate that it comes to that, but all I have to do is check out KAZAA or Lime wire or any other service and see people getting a free ride over and over again.
    Reading your advocacy of theft as well as your tirade against Apple makes me wonder about your motives.
    Which brings me to my other point.
    There are numerous other outlets of DRM’ed material (ones backed by far larger entities and consisting of far more restrictive use rights), but you make no mention of them. No mention of WMA or ATTRAC…why? Why the scree againt Apple and Apple only? Why do you choose to ignore the other outlets? Why the bias solely against Apple?
    You relieive the record lables and media conglomerates of any and all culpability and viciously catigate Apple and Apple only. Why?
    You admit to never having used the products in question, but then proceed to offer your expert opinion without any evidence to back up your outlandish claims.
    This antire article feels like a cotrived effort at FUD.
    BTW – do you also illegally copy DVDS and console games? After all those formats too will be obsoleted. Whats your rationale there?
    I’m curious to see what kind of ill conceived argument you’d present.

  71. Just Say No To DRM

    Anyone who pays a high price for a low quality track that is infected with DRM and which only plays on a single vendor’s platform is stupid.

    So now I’ve upset all the iTMS users, don’t take it personally and here’s some clarification.

    – Same price as a CD for less
    – 128Kb, not 192Kb VBR
    – DRM that restricts your rights and prevents you from doing some things while giving the supplier the right to change the rules later
    – MP3 plays everywhere, AAC-with Fairplay doesn’t

    So if you go for all that you’re either uninformed or stupid when there are alternatives.

    DRM has nothing to do with preventing piracy and everything to do with capturing and maintaining market share.

  72. For those people who say ‘simply burn them to CD’, that’s a bad argument.

    If you do that, you’ve stored compressed, lossy audio onto CD, which if you then rip to mp3 format, has been compressed twice!

    Please buy the music on a DRM-free CD! If you can’t do that, don’t buy the music at all.

    By ‘buying’ DRM-crippled music, we’re sleepwalking into the situation Thomas describes, and we’re validating the music industry’s attempt to restrict our freedoms to do what we like with something we own!

  73. im going to go with this, lol. i am fighting terrorism right here at my computer. some % of the damn oil it would take for me to drive down to the store and get this CD/DVD or have it delivered and all the processes involved in making it and getting it to me is avoided by a time honored american tradition called piracy.. lol.

    the internet is my libray and the guy on on IRC said, bah lame.

    fact is im too lazy to rip a cd i own, i rather just download the mp3s already done, same for my dvds. some one else usually does a much better job and used their time making that nice xvid/mp3 dvd rip that plays great.

  74. In response to Matt’s “Please buy the music on a DRM-free CD! If you can’t do that, don’t buy the music at all.”

    I personally hate “protected” CDs esp. in light of the Sony rootkit fiasco. But, at the same time, WTF would I pay $13-18 for a CD if I only like 1-3 songs on it? What’s the logic in that? I’d rather just pay $1 to $3 for those songs. As I said, if there are lot of good songs on it and/or I REALLY care about better sound quality, then I’ll buy the CD.

    What’s the alternative? Steal it?

  75. I know plenty of people who cannot use there cd recorders, while it seems many of the comments left prove people do know how there burners work so there will always be suckers who never got the program, or figure out how to post a comment here.

    Some of those will be dumb enough to make the riaa very proud with ‘2 billion’ downloads.

    The other thing is that the riaa will now start to think in the future about suing the makers of blank disks, which affects those of us who dont use blank cd for ‘music’ backup. Along with the campaign to ‘dont burn cds its evil’

  76. Thomas Hawk’s real profession is an investment advisor, and I’m going to tell you right now that anyone that invests their money into Thomas Hawk’s firm is a sucker. Thomas Hawk has been running a profitable backdoor scam where the investor’s money goes straight to his gay lap dances at Vegas male strip clubs and cocaine with C-list celebrities in LA.

    Oh wait, was that a complete lie? That’s odd, I thought this kind of tomfoolery is allowed at, where lies like “you’re stuck with iTunes’ DRM forever” is passed off as truth.

    I for one am glad this entry made Slashdot. Sure, I wasted a few minutes of my life to post this entry, but it felt good knowing that thousands of people now know Thomas Hawk is just another troll on the web, too easily forgotten.

  77. quote It’s like everyone knows it’s illegal to break into a car sitting at a rental agency and drive home with it, but thinks it’s completely ok to rent the car for a given time, ignore the terms of the rental agreement, and just do whatever they wish with it.

    no this is more like sitting from a distance and making a copy of the car on the lot without touching it or harming it, much less signing a damn rental agreement.

    I have a pretty nice car sitting right outside, you want to come copy in a way i cant even tell, have fun and leave me and extra copy or the program. another story if i wake up and my car is gone or damaged.

    man.. stealing and piracy are 2 diferent things. i mean you and many others might want to put them on the same level, fine thats fine.. but the term piracy has a nice meaning and is an accepted term..

    i pirated you car.. you still have your car! not even a scratch..

    i stole your car.. i mean damn..

    im sorry artists signed contracts with these people who have this RIAA and MPAA and FUAA.. not my problem, they SOLD their little rights to their music sales in that form right over to Sony who puts rootkits on a damn music cd.

    i want to sell you a car, only problem is it has a DRM, rootkit and all that fancy stuff.. DRM.. sounds fancy right? lol.

  78. On the whole, a good post.

    Although most people haven’t a clue what sort of troubles they’re getting into when they purchase DRM’d content, some are aware and do it only because of the convenience factor. So i’d say it’s slightly under 1 billion suckers… but close enough 🙂

    I think there should be an organised DRM Awareness Day or something, to inform people of how they’re locking themselves in by buying DRM’d content, and why they should stick with good old fashioned CD’s and vinyls.

  79. Some interesting points raised, both by the author and a few others.

    My main point is to all you idiots who buy the music from iTunes, burn a CD, and then rip it back to MP3 … can you say STUPID? The iTunes AAC files are already lossy. By the time you rip back to MP3 you have a really bad mash-up of the original. Talk about a waste!

    I store all my music in FLAC format (lossless) which can be translated on the fly to the format flavor of the moment. It is the smart way to protect your investment.

    The hell with iTunes.

  80. Itunes music will go the same way as tapes and LPs before? Most likely – but so will your CDs and your MP3s. You’ll just have to keep your aging CD player around to hook up to new systems, as you did with your record player and tape decks. Ripping to high-bit rate MP3s certainly is NOT a solution for storing your music in its original quality and be ‘format safe’ in the future.

    I don’t buy at ITunes because I store my music in lossless format – at about 1/3 of the original size. While this is not ideal, I’m being rewarded with excellent sound every time I put on the headphones. Not even 320 bits cut it like that. So I’m taking a plunge with a lossless format that’s not as widely used as MP3.

    I’d rather get the most out of my music when I buy it – now. If it means I’ll have to re-rip everything in 5 or 10 years, so be it. It’s a better option for me than compromising with some mediocre format, one only wishes will keep the doors to future formats open. You’re fooling yourself. Those who go with ITunes today, do that because they get a tremendous satisfaction from the music they are buying that way. But just as they will have to go through the next migration, so will you.

    Using MP3s will not save your music from oblivion. Why not save it in the best possible quality then – if you really want to take it off the CD? It all comes down to having to move on sooner or later.

    The post CD mainstream format will most likely be different from today’s CDs – and I doubt your old CDs will fit into new players. As for your ‘foolproof’ MP3s, you’ll have to buy equipment that’s MP3 backwards compatible – backwards – and you’ll eventually wish that you didn’t have this compressed format on your drive, for it really sounds like crap on the new X3000 beam-it-right-into-my-brain system. So you’ll go back and re-rip your CDs to the new format, if that’s still possible. We will all have to do this.

    Laserdisks, DVDs, CDs, MiniDisks, UMDs, whatever you buy, you buy it with an expiration date. ITunes will work for a while, MP3s will work for while, and the next format will work for a while.

  81. The bottom issue of all this is data formats. You only discuss commercially available music, and all of it can be bought again for a small sum, and yes, buying a 1000 or 10000 songs again is a small sum.
    The real issue is the material that you produce yourself using some manufacturers software, locking your hours of labour into proprietary formats. And what’s worse, you can’t just go out and buy it in another format.
    So take care and use only formats and tools available in the public domain for your own work, if you want to be able to use it in the future.
    The money spent on buying an iPod and buying music from iTunes (which I do and have done in the past) probably equals about 20 hours of my work. It’s, as we say in Sweden, a spit in the ocean.

  82. Firstly, I’ll admit, I am a Mac user and fan and an iTunes user, too. Secondly, I’ll admit, the FairPlay DRM bugs me. A lot of people here suggest burning to CD and ripping as MP3. There are three reasons I don’t do that:

    1.) It’s an extra 2 steps, and, frankly, I don’t want to.
    2.) I will lose sound quality. AAC is a slightly superior format to MP3, but it’s still lossy. When I rip a file burned from AAC to MP3, I get the lossiness of AAC combined with the lossiness of MP3. I doubt I could hear the difference, but I don’t like the idea.
    3.) It possibly circumvents the DRM and could therefore be regarded as a breach of license agreement.

    It bugs me that one day, maybe, perhaps, Apple will move on or shut down. But it only bugs me a little. Apple’s FairPlay DRM is ALREADY the most popular – there are so many people using it that if it ever became the case that Apple said, “Okay, no more FairPlay AACs…” there would be class action lawsuits if they offered no solution to those of us who have FairPlay AACs!

    And for everything else, there’s eMusic.

    PS: Unless this guy slashdotted his own article, go easy on him. It’s a bally weblog, not a news article. This isn’t news, it’s an opinion. It shouldn’t have been slashdotted.

  83. Reality sucks, Dude. Let me guess, you’re still hung up on the whole Beta vs. VHS thing, aren’t you? Well, the market corrects all ills, so if you’re really right, the competition will ultimately win! Of course, as far as everyone else seems to be falling behind, that doesn’t really look likely, does it? And that iTunes vote counter is probably eating at your brain, telling you that you are but one insignificant consumer against an ocean of active iTunes customers. Is it keeping you up at night? Does your shrink say it’s at the heart of your whole bitter, Apple anger issue that is building a wall between you and your significant other? You secretly suspect she’s USING iTunes, don’t you?! Cheating on you, that Bitch!! Well, don’t worry, I’m with you, Friend. Let’s give it 10 years and see if things correct themselves. Yeah! That’s a good one!! Dream on, Betaman!

  84. Thomas Hawk:

    First statement: “iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served”

    Second statement: “… yes there are things that I don’t know about iTunes because I’ve admitedly never tried it.”

    Well, then what do you think of this?

    Windows XP, hundreds of millions of suckers served. … Yes, there are things that I don’t know about Win XP because I’ve never tried it …

    No offense meant, I’m just trying to point out how stupid your words sound. I for one would NEVER write about something that I don’t know intimately.

  85. What is this article about? There is no chance that Apple will disappear and leave all the iTMS customers stuck with DRM-ed songs. Apple will adapt and keep its customers happy. Apple just pulled off the change from PowerPC to Intel with barely a hiccup, and you think they cannot kepp their own formats accessible in the future? What makes you think so? You mention a nonexistent “killer phone” that might not support Apples FairPlay DRM system.

    This argument is meaningless. First, this super-gizmo does not even exist yet. Second, if it comes along and people want it, Apple will certainly support it. Third, the iPod has stood the test of time in the dog-eats-dog world of consumer electronics. The streets are littered with the cadavers of so-called “iPod-killers”, among them a good number of smartphones.

    You idea about abusing the generous refund policies of CD vendors to buy a CD, rip it and then return it is despicable. It is also fraud because you never intended to buy the CD in the first place.

    If you really want to do something against DRM, buy from Magnatunes and Mindawn. They offer DRM-free stuff, and most of the money goes to the artist. That would be honest.

  86. I don’t like DRM either, but my feeling is that if one always waits for the future in the way described in the original post, then you’ll expire one day never having bought anything (leaving to your children scads of money, but being rather curmudgeonly your whole life).
    While I don’t like DRM, I buy from the iTunes Music occasionally. The convenience of being liberated from physical CD’s and from the album concept (3 good songs, one fair one and 4 dogs) far outweigh the drawbacks (in my mind) and the music industry would never have gone for less. There will never be a format which will last forever, so one will never get around that problem. I expect to be able to export to some future format before the current formats are antiquated. While there might be some quality loss, my ears won’t be young enough to notice the difference and my decendants won’t be listening to U2 anymore anyway.
    Enjoy a bit of life! Live and let live!

  87. heh heh heh… good stirring, Thomas!

    In my experience, the people who use the AAC format are people with no technological curiosity whatsoever. Not so much suckers, as idiots.

  88. You’re an idiot. As if you own a song if you buy it on CD, but not if you buy from iTunes? Buy a guitar, take a lesson, THEN you own the song. Retard.

  89. Thomas said: I still collect my digital music the old fashioned way, I rip it straight from CDs to crystal clear high bit rate DRM free mp3s.

    With all do respect, there is nothing “crystal clear” about MP3 files, even at a high bit rate. Compressed music files are evil on two levels; the non-harmonic artifacts simply make one want to stop listening after an hour or two and they surely won’t be a relevant, format 10 or 20 years from now. Archival? I think not.

    Why not rip your music into native, uncompressed AIIF file format? I build audiophile servers based on Macs running iTunes playing back uncompressed files. (My library is currently at around 500 bytes. ) Let me say – iTunes is a genius program!

    As for downloading songs from the iTunes music store, I don’t,. Not because of DRM – which I agree isn’t great – but because I’m not interested in listening to compressed files.

    One last comment – as you might except, it’s painfully obvious what’s wrong with compressed music files when listening on audiophile level music playback systems. Much to my surprise, I found that there is a noticeable difference between compressed and uncompressed formats when listening on an iPod. With compressed formats I get fatigued and stop listening after about an hour. With uncompressed formats it’s “just one more song” until I’m forced to stop. Isn’t that the way it should be?

  90. I definitely have to agree with you. I will admit, I am addicted to my iPod nano, but there wasn’t, isn’t, and won’t be a single song on there from iTunes. Partially because I hate the DRM, and partially because I’m a Linux user who can’t stand dealing with proprietary junkware!

    Hmm, your darknet idea just gave me a great use for all the junk computers I have lying around my room… 🙂

  91. allright, I’m going to touch on a few issues I have here. first and foremost: burning to CD and re-ripping.

    1. Buy Song From Apple in Lossy format at 128kbs.

    to clairify, lossy codecs take the original waveform off the CD, remove parts of the waveform that “the human ear can’t hear”.

    2.a) Assuming you bought the entire CD.

    burn that to CD, lossy 128kbs AAC format converted back to waveform (still missing originally removed information)

    2.b) Assuming you buy just single songs

    set whatever order you want, burn the CD (again, aac->waveform, still missing originally removed info)

    3.a) from entire album
    launch CDex (or your favourite CD Ripping application). using the CDDB it will fill in your track names.

    3.b) from single tracks
    oh no! theres no CDDB entry for a random assortment of songs you threw together to bypass DRM! well. that means entering tracknames at riptime and manually editing artist/album tags after rip in a tag editor. sounds fun.

    4.) ripping format.

    ancient lossy codec that starts to degrade audio quality at anything under 192. at 192 straight from CD it sounds acceptable. however if you take apples 128kbs aac file, drop it to CD, then re-rip it at 192, you are again sacraficing quality. while the resulting file *might* sound ok played back through earbuds, on any decent sound system its just unacceptable.

    my personal favourite lossy codec. does a better job than mp3 and a ~160kbs vbr ogg file sounds similar to a 192kbs mp3. however while still doing a better job than mp3, its still lossy and you’re working from a lossy source. it just won’t sound good on a decent sound system.

    flac, shorten, ape, and other lossless solutions)
    while these formats won’t lose any quality from the CD their ripping, you have to remember that the CD contains the original lossy apple format. so the absolute highest quality you can acheive is a mere 128kbs aac file (bleh).

    next issue with burning-> ripping.

    a *LOT* of plastic. the music collection in my house is 15640 songs, this is not meant as a brag, this will be used as a realworld example.

    total playing time for the collection is
    46 days 14 hours 30 minutes 18 seconds of music (according to winamp)

    lets take these figures and do some math: A CD can hold 80 minutes of music

    using googles built in calculator, my collection is 67110.3 minutes long.

    divide by 80 minutes to get how many CDs it would take to back it up in straight audio format.

    67110.3 / 80 = 838.87875 (from here on refferred to as 839)

    ok. so 839 CDs. at roughly 60 cents (canadian) per CD

    839 * $.6 = $503.4 for the CDs needed to perform the burn->rip proceedure.

    not to mention the physical space taken up by the CDs.

    total price for my collection on iTunes if I was ripping back to CD:

    15640 + 503.4 = $16143.4
    songs CDs total

    now to burn and rerip I’ll assume using a 48x burner (use the same for read speed)

    839 CDs x 2 (ripping and burning take *roughly* the same amount of time)

    1678 x 4 minutes = 6712 (or 111.866667 hours, or 4.66111111 days)

    now if you burned single songs, add about 10 minutes per disc to manually add tag information.

    6712 + (839 discs x an additional 10 minutes)
    =15102 minutes

    to recap all figures used:

    -15640 songs

    -67110.3 minutes of music

    -839 CDs

    -$503.4 for CDs

    -$15640 for songs

    4.6 – 10.5 days of burning/ripping

    $16143.4 total spent

    now. look at those final figures. is it *really* conveinient to use iTunes and then convert to mp3? even in smaller collections, it adds up. go ahead and do the math yourselves.

    if I made any mathematical errors, I’ll be happy to fix them.

    you know what? I intended to cover several topics here, but I’m dead after reading everything and writing that. maybe later I’ll do a proper rant on DRM.

  92. I’m amazed at how few people mention that Apple gives away 1-2 songs a week for free on ITMS. My teenage daughter downloads them weekly. Some of those freebies have turned out to be her favorite songs. So, maybe a few of those suckers are smarter than you are!

  93. Why in the world would ANYONE buy music from iTunes when you can buy DRM-free, high-quality MP3’s from ALLOFMP3.COM?? This russian website, which is completely legal, sells albums for $1.10, and songs for 11 cents a piece, with NO DRM… so why would anyone buy from Apple?

    Because for some reason NO ONE wants to talk about ALLOFMP3.COM, that’s why…

  94. Ah well, I have never bought a song from the iTunes Music Store and can’t see myself ever doing so. For that matter I have never bought an MP3 song! have no interest in an iPod or any MP3 player. I have downloaded some Dead shows from and converted them to audio CDs, which iTunes does reasonably well.

    There are options. It’s the digital age, there are always options. Downloading Apple’s DRM-infected files and then burning them to CD and reripping is one option. JHymn is another. People with more sophistication than myself can probably name others.

  95. JHymn is your friend. Contrary to reports, it does work with iTunes 6, just not 100% out of the box. The website gives instructions on how to make it work with version 6. I’ve freed all my iTunes tracks in this manner.

  96. Thomas, one possible explanation to me is that Apple DRM has been circumvented in the past. This doesn’t fully explain the numbers since I guess 99% of purchasers probably don’t know what DRM is, but that one percent that knows may be happy with this (and thus may not be labeled sucker at all).
    Although speaking for myself, especially after the rootkit debacle, would only use non-DRM’d CDs as source of music. Most of the time, I am happy with just WebRadio.

  97. There are ways to get around the Itunes DRM and convert the files directly to MP3… but most users arent savy enough to do that.

    Those that are will flurish in the new age of digital music players.

  98. Why is this different from buying content that’s tied to Windows? Crap… this version of Office won’t run on a Mac? I’ve got to buy another license? What? I want to open my Word documents on a PDA, and it’ll only open correctly if I buy a Windows PDA?

    Dang… what a sucker I was! Even worse, the suckerdom continues! People are still buying Windows in droves! Idiots!


    Flame? No. Your gripe stands on its own merit.

    Wait… it has none.


  99. So what you’re missing here in saying that you will only rip music from CDs is that you can’t cherry pick singles from CDs. Would you be willing to buy a whole $15 Cd for one song? Didn’t think so. iTunes’ benefit of being able to buy individual songs is bringing music buying back to the days of the 45 record. Singles rule.

    It’s amazingly easy to burn iTunes tracks to Cd and rerip back to MP3. Hell, if you don’t take the CD out of the drive after burning, you retain all the ID3 info. Then just show duplicate songs in your library, and copy the album art from one track to the other and delete the DRM’ed file. Figure a blank Cd costs what – 15 cents? It adds a penny onto the cost of each track. Big deal.

    People say you lose quality but I can’t hear it. Most of the time I’m listening to my iPod in the car with an FM transmitter which is already causing some loss in quality anyway. Only audiophiles will notice the difference.

    Am I a sucker? I don’t think so – I’m beating the Cd buying system by buying singles, and if I ever need to switch to another device – everything’s already converted to MP3.


  100. i totally agree! i just bought a 2006 honda civic hybrid, and their integrated PC card slot does not play Apple’s proprietary format.

  101. thom, while you may have been off a degree or two in the technical dept which the more rabid mac maniacs pounced on (thus missing your points in the process), you basically nailed your argument.

    it’s simple really: drm precludes ownership. that much is obvious. what’s a bit more subtle is the fact that drm also precludes ownership of rights. you don’t own the track, and now you don’t even own the rights to listen to the track. they become valueless once paid for. don’t believe me? try selling those rights to someone else.

    without resorting to extra legal means all you have is non-perpetual usage window that exists during a temporary period of corporate noblesse oblige. in every case, drm’d intellectual “property” couldn’t be more different than the physical variety.

    – js.

  102. Technically, the effect of Apple increasing their ipod and itunes products is because people like the service and are willing to pay for it. Look at it from a practical aspect, people want to listen to music, they dont want to worry about transfering the music to a new device in the future 5 to 10 years from now. Thus,when the time comes for a need, then software will come about to accomodate. More so, if they really needed to get around the encording problems, why not just burn a cd with itunes, and then rip it with a rip program to mp3 format. That is easier than going out of your way on third party networks, like bittorrent, trying to find your music, trying to make sure you get all the tracks, and then making sure its good quality. For the average customer, they could care less how much technology you use. They dont have the time, its about efficiency and thats what apple has got. Its streamlined, thus if one, like you, find a better way for you as opposed to other people. It does not necessarily mean that is good for everyone else.

  103. Well, I am a self-proclaimed Appleheaded fanboy, but I also have a brain.

    Yes, I will agree the format may be obsolete or abandoned in the future. As so could all of the other formats currently in use. How many people do you know that have an 8-track tape player anymore for those old hits?

    Likewise I have a large collection of LPs that I have had to sacrifice for since no one makes front-loading turntables anymore and I had to replace my broken one.

    But instead of calling those of use who have bought their music from the iTunes Music Store suckers, start thinking how the same applies to yourself. Are you not just as much a sucker because you have bought into an arguement that I have heard used by the MPAA to convince people that without the physical medium their music is in jeporady?

    What people should be doing is convincing all of the players to come to the table together and agree on some standards. If the Fairplay DRM scheme is better then maybe Apple should license it.

    And while it’s nice that you say you aren’t “advocating piracy, per se” that is exactly what the scheme you proposed is.

  104. You certainly make some very valid points regarding Apple’s strategy for DRM, but your comments were mixed with quite a bit of anger. Were you violated by a iPod at some point in your life? So sorry….

  105. uggghhh… all this talk of burning to CD and ripping again makes me cringe. I can’t imagine paying for a music file that I KNOW will be left in an inferior state. It’d be nice to see iTunes offer a lossless format (I know, they won’t touch FLAC, but they could make their own). or people could start using alternatives; Mindawn anyone?

  106. I love idiots that immediately assume anyone that disagrees with them on the Apple DRM subject is an “Appleheaded fan boy”. I prefer to buy my music one song at a time largely because I don’t think there’s been even one full album released in 20 years thats worth my time. And the iTunes store tracks are much better quality than anyhting else out there. And, while you’re dropping $14.99 to get your Gwen Steffani on (and suffering through the 6 or 8 shit tracks on every one of her discs), I can pick up the one or two tracks I give a rip about and spend $2. And you know what…I don’t WANT to listen to the music I purchased 10 or 20 years ago, so I couldn’t care less if Apple’s DRM obsoletes my collection in a year. I’d probably delete the tracks from computer long before than anyhow. They’ll make an announcement about iTunes store closing or some new format, and I’ll burn to CD or DVD whatever music I care about, and ditch the rest. Go ahead and farm your 10,000 song library and assume the rest of us are suckers. When all is said and done, you’ll have given the music industry a hell of a lot more money than I will for music you don’t even bother with any more. So knock off the name calling. Not everyone who diagrees is a fanboy.

  107. oh you fool… I guess this stupid, unsophisticated, unresearched rant will make you some cash from all the ads.

  108. “paying for a music file that I KNOW will be left in an inferior state”

    So…I assume you don’t buy from ANY of the online music stores…because 128Kb AAC is as close to CD quality as you can get. There isn’t a single MP3 file that even comes close.

    And for the record, AAC was developed by the MP4 group, not Apple. Apple only added the DRM encoding. plus, if you want check out Apple’s audio codec, do a little research into the Apple Lossless format, which is, quite frankly, unparalleled. MP3 is a joke, and so is anyone who belives that it is the uber-format that will last forever.

  109. “check out Apple’s audio codec, do a little research into the Apple Lossless format, which is, quite frankly, unparalleled.”

    Beautiful! So it seems iTunes does support a lossless format. Unfortunately, you can’t download lossless files. You can only use this format for importing CDs and listening .

    “MP3 is a joke, and so is anyone who belives that it is the uber-format that will last forever.”

    I concur!!!

  110. Why does everyone assume that Apple would do nothing to help their customers? For example, Steve has maintained that if the lack of WMA support on the iPod becomes a big enough issue that they will add the capability to the player. I don’t hear anyone really complain about that anymore. I’d be surprised if the next greatest audio format that came along and took a strangle hold on the market would not be supported by Apple or that they would not provide a conversion method for those that wanted it. Of course it would have to support integrating with their DRM unless the music companies get a lobotomy in the mean time. Maybe the old Apple had the “not invented here” blindfold on, but that’s not my impression of the company since Steve returned.

  111. I don’t like the lock-in of the itunes store either, and have never purchased a song through the service, but I do love my ipod and itunes.

    Do what I do, no DRM, and avail. for any future format: Buy the CD used, rip to flac, and then convert to whatever format you want in the future.

  112. Super phone of the future?? Huh? Come to Japan! We’ve already got them!

    High speed internet on the phone… VGA screens with true color… I listed to my music and watch episodes of Futurama from a relatively cheap SD card. So its no 30 gig I-pod video… but it sure is more flexible… (plus the phone was FREE with my plan… so I spent, what? $60 on a 512mb mp3 and movie player? damn… what a deal!) Mine only has a 1.3 megapixel camera… but they sell them with 4mpix cameras now… Then theres the ability to watch TV programs broadcast live (NOT streaming from the net, although thats an option too) and GPS, motion sensors, digital wallet functions, built in bluetooth and IR… I can even buy an optional remote control for my phone (very MD player clip on your shirt little cylinder-esque type of remote). any features i’m missing?

    I must be living in the future…

    But seriously folks… Just beat the system! If you want a CD… just share with your friends! Rock paper scissors for who gets the actual CD and jacket and just burn copies for everyone else!

    Buying individual songs is just odd… one song just doesn’t sound right without the rest of the album… It doesn’t flow…

    And what wonders a portable USB hard drive does in a college dorm….

    Not that I’ve ever done any of this. Cuz that would be way illegal…


    You are basically betting that Apple’s proprietary DRM laced format will be the standard for the rest of your life.


    Yes, there’s a minuscule loss of quality that I can’t actually detect when listening to music on my iPod. When quality matters (like, for a lot of classical music) I’m not going to be buying it in MP3, AAC, WMA, or any other compressed format to begin with.

  114. Okay so I read through most of the comments and no one seems to have mentioned the Motorola ROKR at all? you know, the phone with iTunes built in to it?
    One of the author’s main whinging points seems to be that you can only play iTunes downloaded music in iTunes or on your Apple product but here we already have a mobile phone capable of playing iTunes format music.
    Sure the phone was sort of a flop, but who’s to say there won’t be more and better devices like this in the future? And how do we know the author’s super-wank mobile device won’t have an implementation of iTunes software on it as well?

  115. Very Simple, ! It lets you choose bitrate, format (They even serve FLAC) and have really low prices. Just over the 99c mark will get you an album! Its totally legal, and based in Russia. I love it and have bought loads of music off them.

  116. *sigh*

    Such a hopelessly uninformed post, its hard to know where to begin…

    At least you admit that you’ve never used iTunes, so that allows those of us who HAVE used it to discount the whole vendor lock-in scare tactic as what it is. Other folks have already pointed this out so I see no reason to repat it.

    But hey, at least thanks to Slashdot (where I found this link), you have earned some new found infamy as a wannabe pundit who thinks nothing of expounding upon his idiocy by getting up on a soapbox to make controversial and uniformed statements on a successful venture you know absolutely nothing about.

    The only suckers are the ones who bothered to follow the link and read this tripe in the first place.

  117. I think it’s a silly point. Yes, it will be inconvenient to own songs with apple’s DRM when a cool new player comes out sometime down the line that is incompatible. But saying that you should not purchase songs from there because of that is like saying you shouldn’t have purchased vinyl or cassettes because CDs and digital music players would eventually come out and make your albums “obsolete”. Plus, as many people mentioned, even at the hypothetical point that you want to convert your music from apple’s DRM you have the option of burning and re-ripping it. You say this is marginally inconvenient, but yeah, so is driving to the store to purchase a cd or even ordering one online, and subsequently having to rip it–I don’t see a dramatic difference, except that traditional purchasing models distribute the inconvenience across time. I buy music from the iTunes music store because it is worth the 99c for me to have it now and for the forseeable future, not because of the implicit assumption that I’ll be playing these same Foo Fighters singles 15 years down the road.
    Also, while you assert that the iTunes music store has done ‘zero’ to combat piracy without making any references to back up the statement, I can say on a personal level that I download much less illegally since I have started using it; simply put, it’s much faster and more convenient than gnutella or bittorrent, and I’d rather spend 99 cents to get a song instantly off itunes than spend 20 minutes of my time looking for and downloading it illegally and then often finding it has audio artifacts.

    Also, it goes without saying that the statement that there will be such a futuristic device that you’ll want to use and which Apple does not negotiate a settlement with or come out with a competitive alternative to is purely speculative and basing a purchasing decision on it now is questionable at best, to say nothing of calling people who choose not to “suckers.”

  118. Gee, what an original topic. What earth-shattering insight. What cutting rhetoric – I mean, I’m sure that the legions of the ignorant are now much more edified knowing that this blogger considers them ‘suckers’.

    This is the antithesis of good blogging – it’s not timely, it’s not original, it is overtly abusive of others, and to add insult to injury, it’s not very well written either.

  119. As usual on the web, most of these posts are ignorant
    of the facts (including the original). Why bother reading blogs when you know that every one (and every followup comment- is filled with an a mixture of half-truths and ommisions.

    AAC is _not_ an Apple format, nor should it be considered proprietary. It is from the same consortium who brought you MP3, and it is the Mpeg4 audio component. One might have expected it to be called MP4.

    It’ is a higher quality codec than MP3.

    What apple does is add DRM to MP4, on songs sold in the store.

    But you can rip your CDs to MP4/AAC without
    adding DRM, and get either better quality or smaller files.

  120. DRM & DMCA are evil, not Apple. Apple was merely the first one to provide a convenient method to purchase digital music online. Heck, in the beginning Apple was served a law suit by the record labels because of it Rip, Mix, Burn campaign. If anyone should be blamed for this mess, it would be the RIAA for forcing DRM on us in the first place. Blame them, they are the real culprits.

  121. Well put. I can’t understand (well actually I can) how so many people buy into the iTunes hype. I’ve been an mp3 person since the first iRiver player came out and I’ve sold my entire CD collection after ripping my music and storing it on my server. I can’t wait for the iTunes drones to figure out how Apple has screwed them.

  122. I mean, I don’t even LIKE apple and I hate you. Does proclaiming yourself smarter than tens of millions of consumers help soothe your crippling sense of self-loathing?

  123. You bought an Xbox…what is the difference. I can make all the same argunments. What a major dick hole. Go home & beat off to your life size poster of Bill (I wish I would have thought of that or anything original) Gates. Don’t want it don’t buy it. Simple. Don’t whine like a little bitch. Let the major ass barnacle respond. 5,4,3…

  124. I buy a lot of music from which includes releases from a wide range independent lables including Ninja Tune and Warped Records (it’s their brainchlid). They have got the right ethos for an online music store; good price point, high quality encoding and NO DRM. It’s nice to put money in the pocket of music labels that don’t assume that their customers are thieves.

  125. Ten years is a long time.

    I just bought Madonna’s “Confessions on a Dance Floor” I paid $10 for what otherwise would have cost me $15. I highly doubt that I will be listenning to this album come 10 years. But that $5 is fungible, and can grow at a return rate of 6-10% a year. Why waste money on a short lived commodity? Sure, when I go out and finally buy Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” I will actually invest the money in a hard, DRM-free, copy. But for most of the blissful shlock that one wants on their iTunes collection, thinking about long term longevity is just not a helful model.

  126. If you think that is legal, you haven’t read the terms of use. It is (dubiously) legal….in Russia. They have no license to sell outside of Russia. Unfortunately, they also cannot be sued because….they are in Russia.

    If you think any of that money is going to the artists, you are deluding yourself.

  127. “I do know fundamentally that I do not want tracks that can only play on Apple approved devices and as such will probably never get to fully try out the functionality.”
    “What’s the alternative? Steal it?”

    I guess the alternative is to “rent” WMA-approved music–as much as you want–until you stop paying and then it goes “poof”. Seriously, this is the only alternative being promoted to the masses.
    I know people reading this would never go for that model, and THAT is why the iTMS keeps gaining market share. That and a cerain ubiquitous device that keeps getting better AND thinner!

  128. Look, I cant be bothered to read the pages of comments here, but for me, it comes down to this. lots of non-apple devices support non-DRM’d AAC now, and are likely to in the future. With hymn or similar pieces of software, I can strip the DRM and end up with the same quality source file, in un-DRM’d AAC. If, in the future, Apple goes under (or whatever) I’ll still likely be able to play my music on any number of MP3 players, phones, etc. If you’re content with the quality of your tracks, then you can quite feasibly strip the DRM with no loss in quality, no CD’s, etc.

    Next time, you might actually want to use the service before you criticize it. And why not discuss M$’s equally proprietary DRM format while you’re at it.

  129. No mean to poke, but it’s just as easy to stip the DRM off of your iTunes files as it is to buy cds and rip them to your computer. If you burn iTunes m4ps to cds and then rip back to mp3s you loose quality… whereas if you simply strip the DRM you never have any problems… and you can have your music just as crystal clear as anyone who bought it on a cd.

  130. 1. Hilight the Tracks to Convert
    2. Click Advanced
    3. Click Convert Selection to MP3

    its that simple…its not hard to go from format to format…and iPods are the most user-friendly MP3 players out…but i personally prefer limewire or torrentspy to itunes…

  131. “Personally I’ve never bought an iTune and I don’t own an iPod.”

    Then why are you wasting your time writing about it?
    Why do you care?

  132. iTunes is a wonderful organization tool for music, no matter where you decide to get your music from, and the iPod is a great portable device that works seamlessly with iTunes.

    I, personally, don’t think any other company has achieved a piece of hardware and software that works so well together.

  133. It’s hard to understand that someone will write something techie but hasn’t done a proper research yet. We can see why you wrote it: “And…. let the Appleheaded fan boys flame comments begin…. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… now.”

    Pretty dumb, really. Am not a big appleheaded fan boy but I am flamed at your stupidity and naivity-or laziness to do research (or just plain reading) before saying things for that matter.

    “Personally I’ve never bought an iTune and I don’t own an iPod.”

    iTunes is a media player, not the song. You needn’t pay for one because it’s available for download free. Works for both PC and mac.

    “Personally I want nothing to do with it. I still collect my digital music the old fashioned way, I rip it straight from CDs to crystal clear high bit rate DRM free mp3s. These files of course can be played on any device and represent better value in my opinion for today’s consumer.”

    With iTunes, you can rip songs in MP3 format, the way you’d do it above and it has no DRM. You can play the files in any devices, including burning them back as an audio CD.

    My ears aren’t sensitive enough, but I think AAC format has MUCH BETTER quality than MP3. Btw, MP3 isn’t the best compression anyway, there are more better ones out there such as ogg vorbis which encodes in a smaller file with a better quality than MP3.

    There are tons of songs and items inside iTunes music store. World music and other off main stream music are normally priced at really high prices in a CD shop. I don’t live in America but we have HMV, Borders etc. They don’t sell those types of music, if they do the price is could be double or triple of normal audio CDs.

    And again, back to your intention in your writing, I think you’re just trying to be sensasional, without the brain that is. Sad.

    For your iPod, you can put in any songs regardless where you get them from (cd rip, P2P sharing, bittorrent etc). Some people think it’s overpriced but if you’ve compared the sound quality with the rest on the market, you’ll see why you want to pay more. Plus, at least your paying only a tiny bit for the user-friendliness and the very intuitive system. These days you can get other players almost or more expensive than iPod but with worse quality and a design which looks like been created by a Klingon.

  134. Beebo,

    An Audivox SMT5600 smart phone. It really is great. The headphones double as a wireless headset (mic built into the headphones). When a call comes in you can set it to pause your music, let you take the call, and after the call the music picks up right where you left off. Love the convergence. It unfortunately cannot play DRM’d music from iTunes.

  135. Thomas,
    I really don’t see why you have to abuse others in order to validate your choices. I don’t really care what you think or do in relation to iTunes, the music store or any other thing. Your choices in relation to this don’t make you anything – good or bad at all in my view. However your description of customers of the iTunes music store as ‘suckers’ simply convinces me that you are a person who, if nothing else, lacks courtesy and simple good manners. There are any number of reasons why people may wish to use the iTunes Music store – none of which makes them suckers – or anything else. I notice that in your professional life you are an investment advisor. Would you refer to those of your clients who have purchased from iTunes music store as ‘suckers’ without the protection of anonymity provided by the web? I doubt it if you wanted to retain them as customers. Anyway, cheers and best wishes.

  136. To Thomas Hawk w/his SMT5600, how’s the syncing experience? How do you like the miniscule amount of memory (32 megs) forcing you use to use a memory card?

    How easy it is for you to buy or rent music from the various services allowed that your phone works with ( How easy it it for you to understand the plethora of choices, pricing schemes and restrictions depending on the store? How easy is it for you to get music from one of those stores, sync it to your device and also listen to it on your other devices?

    Is Microsoft’s WMP DRM any less evil and any less proprietary than FairPlay if you buy stuff from iTMS? Is it any less “awful”?

  137. Bitter much?

    Look I own like (5) CD’s to my name and yet now I have 575 songs on my iPod. So too me it’s time and money saved to use iTunes. I’d hate to search for those 575 songs, various CD’s. How many CD’s would I have to purchase just to get these songs anyway…Wow! Since most CD’s have maybe one or two songs I actually want…YIKES!

    You are correct there will be other amazing products in the future like the increadible phone but who is too say that Apple won’t be making one? Or better still the one that leads the pack? I don’t know myself but I can’t see doing my song collection any other way. I’d have to start by spending a great deal of money on CD’s and the time alone to gather said would be increadible. Then I would have do the whole make MP3 and put them on my player of choice thing…I HAVE A LIFE!!!!

    Does this count as a flame?

    Pagan jim

  138. I used the iTunes store from the moment I got my iPod mini. Absolutely loved it – quick downloads, reasonable selection of music, slick interface.

    It’s actually pretty easy to back up to be honest – I just shove my “My Music” folder onto a DVD – am going to need blu-ray capacity soon!

    Now that I’ve bought some decent headphone gear, though, I need lossless. Solely for this reason, I am switching back to buying CDs. Naturally, I’ll rip them in iTunes using Apple Lossless.

    I know this point has been made before, but the bitrates for videos and songs isn’t high enough. The sole selling point is the instant gratification of want -> search -> buy. The playlists are actually pretty cool, too, a good way of discovering music.

  139. Two things…

    There’s no danger of losing access to the songs because of future DRM failure, since you can burn everything you buy from itunes to CD. (there are also DRM hacks, and I’m sure there would be more in the future if apple somehow shut down).

    Second, if you buy the CD’s, how do you get the one great song on the album that’s otherwise crap? Let’s see. Buy the CD = $12.99 for one great song. Buy it on iTunes = $0.99 for one great song. I don’t see how the iTunes buyer is the sucker in this case, seems like the other way around?

  140. A couple of points. First, many have pointed out that you technically “can” burn your fairplay protected tunes to CD and then re rip them as mp3.

    Although you technically (and actually legally) can today. You are assuming that you will be able to do this for all time. By using the iTunes service your are agreeing that Apple can in fact change the TOS on you as the EFF points out.

    “Apple reserves the right, at any time and from time to time, to update, revise, supplement, and otherwise modify this Agreement and to impose new or additional rules, policies, terms, or conditions on your use of the Service. Such updates, revisions, supplements, modifications, and additional rules, policies, terms, and conditions (collectively referred to in this Agreement as “Additional Terms”) will be effective immediately and incorporated into this Agreement. Your continued use of the iTunes Music Store following will be deemed to constitute your acceptance of any and all such Additional Terms. All Additional Terms are hereby incorporated into this Agreement by this reference.”

    From the EFF:

    “Put simply, this means that when you install iTunes, you are not only agreeing to all the onerous terms in the box, but you are also agreeing to future terms that may appear in the iTunes Terms of Service months or years from now. These terms are subject to change without notice, and you don’t even get a chance to click through this future “contract” and agree. Mere “continued use of the iTunes Music Store” constitutes your agreement to contractual terms that you may not be aware exist.”

    As a music collector I am most interestedin amassing a wonderful library of great music to last my lifetime.

    Not only is it less convenient to have to download a song, buy a bunch of blank CDs, burn my music to blank CDs then re-rip it without the DRM to mp3 at (the best I can tell a lower mp3 bit rate than would I can rip my CD at) but Apple very well could take this right away from you in the future given your acceptance of their TOS.

    I am not ready to invest my hours and hours of work building my library to a TOS and a strategy built fundamentally on DRM.

    To anonymous who says: “Second, if you buy the CD’s, how do you get the one great song on the album that’s otherwise crap? Let’s see. Buy the CD = $12.99 for one great song. Buy it on iTunes = $0.99 for one great song.”

    As a completist I don’t actually buy my music that way but you are assuming that you can only buy your music on new CDs. I buy many, many, cheap discounted used CDs and rarely ever pay $12.99 for a disc. I probably average about $8 per disc. If you estimated that the industry average songs per CD on the low side at 12, that gets you at a 66 cents per song cost.

    I’ll take a crystal clear 320 bit mp3 (that I don’t need to burn first to an uncessary blank CD) over an iTune any day of the week.

    If you really only want one song on a CD you can also frequently find even cheaper discounted EP CDs that will have the most popular song of an album on them. I routinely find these for $1.99 to $3.99 used for what is usually 4 to 6 tracks.

    Since I enjoy hanging out in used CD stores and love manually searching through the bins for fun I don’t see the aquisition part of the CD process as work for me.

    Ripping the tracks is work, but I’d rather only have to rip them, then have to rip AND burn them.

    Jim Pagan, you write: “You are correct there will be other amazing products in the future like the increadible phone but who is too say that Apple won’t be making one? Or better still the one that leads the pack?”

    Maybe they will, maybe they won’t I don’t want to build my music library on the assumption that they will. One thing I know for sure is that I have a pretty amazing phone/mp3 combo today in the form of the Audiovox SMT5600. Even today, this phone will not play DRM’d iTunes natively. Why would I want to bet on Apple coming out with the best phone based portable device in the future when they don’t have it today?

    Andrew, the synching experience with the SMT 5600 is fine for me. I put a 1 gig chip in it which is just about perfect for me. It is much smaller than most iPods and the built in microphone and the player integration with the phone (music is paused when calls come in if you want to set it that way) is really great.

    I like that when a call comes in I don’t have to change headphones I just push answer and I’m talking. Super convenient.

    “How easy it is for you to buy or rent music from the various services allowed that your phone works with” Super easy. It synchs with every mp3 in my library with Windows Media Player.

    I would never buy or rent a song from a phone company. At 2.49 or whatever they go for they are an even bigger rip off than iTunes. One top of it being super easy, I can turn any mp3 into a ringtone for my phone saving my having to waste money buying silly ring tones. At present I have Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s punk version of Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard as my default ringer for standard calls.

    Anonymous, you write: “I guess the alternative is to “rent” WMA-approved music–as much as you want–until you stop paying and then it goes “poof”. Seriously, this is the only alternative being promoted to the masses.”

    Not at all. Windows Media Player does not require you to rip in WMA. I only rip in high bit rate (320) mp3s, which are just perfect for my ears and completely DRM free.

  141. One should at least check basic facts first.

    1. The Apple store downloads are coded in a lossless AIFF format. That means when you burn your CD, you are getting EXACTLY the same bits that were on the original CD.

    2. This mean that any derived MP3s are just as good as if you derived them from an original CD.

    3. You can also export MP3s directly from iTunes, without going through the burning/ripping process.

    It was interesting that mobile phones were cited as a possible problem for iTunes (not that this is a real problem, since iTunes can generate MP3s). Now if I wanted to rant about a rip-off, it would be mobile phone content. If I buy a ringtone, or game, or any other content on my mobile phone, I usally have to kiss my “investment” goodbye when I switch to a different phone.

  142. You’re probably tired of being pummeled over this:

    still collect my digital music the old fashioned way, I rip it straight from CDs to crystal clear high bit rate DRM free mp3s.

    As do I – I rip my iTunes Store DRMed AACs to CD, thus making perfect (and legal – yeah, FairPlay is suuure restrictive!) copies without DRM and playable everywhere.

    Ad of course, like most others, my iPod is mostly full of my own ripped CDs.

  143. “Although you technically (and actually legally) can today. You are assuming that you will be able to do this for all time.”

    If they change this at some point, you can just use the last version of iTunes that suppored it. The genie is out of the bottle, if they try and take that away, many people will probably keep the old version of the software around for just that purpose.

    “Not only is it less convenient to have to download a song, buy a bunch of blank CDs…”

    But you only “have” to do that if you need to get around the DRM (as in your hypothetical situation of this DRM dying in the future). For many users, the DRM works just fine. And there are other options, such as apps that hack out the DRM from the files.

    “I probably average about $8 per disc.”

    Which is still $7 more expensive than the 99 cents the iTunes user paid to download the one good song (and not be forced to pay for the other lousy ones). Again, who’s the sucker here?

    “I’ll take a crystal clear 320 bit mp3 (that I don’t need to burn first to an uncessary blank CD) over an iTune any day of the week.”

    That’s your perogative. But $8 just to get the one song you want seems a little steep just to get better sound quality and avoid DRM. I’d rather save the cash in many cases.

    “If you really only want one song on a CD you can also frequently find even cheaper discounted EP CDs that will have the most popular song of an album on them.”

    Which isn’t useful if the song you want isn’t the most popular one on the album.

    So in this discussion has anyone mentioned the audio CD’s with DRM? Talk about a pain…

  144. ” Anonymous said…

    One should at least check basic facts first.

    1. The Apple store downloads are coded in a lossless AIFF format. That means when you burn your CD, you are getting EXACTLY the same bits that were on the original CD.”

    ok. if you want to hammer people about facts. at least get them right. while iTunes can rip to a lossless format. songs purchased in the store are AAC 128kbs.

    From Apples site:

    “What file format and bit rate do you use?

    Purchased songs are encoded using MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, a high-quality format that rivals CD quality. Songs purchased and downloaded from the Music Store are AAC Protected files and have a bitrate of 128 kilobits per second (kbit/s). The file extension is .m4p” (

    the quality of the files are nowhere near CD quality and should not be advertised as such. “rivals CD quality”…. my ass it does

  145. So you have an issue with proprietary DRM. Can I expect your next installments to pick apart Microsoft and Real Networks?

  146. The moment iTunes DRM AACs are no longer a current used format is the moment ways to strip the DRM start showing up and not getting sued.

  147. Gosh Tom, a built-in flame shield at the end of your (rather whiny) article?

    You must be really afraid of anyone who likes Apple. Oh well, lol.

  148. So the article guy wants me to

    1) Buy CDs
    2) Rip ’em to mp3
    3) Return the CD for whatever I can get for it.

    Gee, I dunno… seems pretty inconvenient. For one thing, thats TWO trips to the CD store. AND I gotta rip everything.

    Also seems like a sucker’s bet, money-wise, considering that most CDs these days have only 1 or 2 good songs on ’em, the rest being filler.

    So I buy a $14 CD at wherever, then return it, getting the (author’s own quoted figure of) standard 75% back.

    Ok… I just made TWO trips to the store in order to pay $3.50 for one or two good songs. Yay.

    But with iTunes, I would’ve saved both time AND money. No trips to the store, no ripping anything, AND I would’ve payed $1 or $2 for those 1-2 good songs, instead of $3.50.

    Why was this a good idea again?

    Sorry Mr. Hawk, but I think I like my way better. Lates.

  149. To those who seem to think that just because the original author ranted about iTunes means hes responsible to do an equal rant on WMA and other forms of DRM’d music… let me ask you this. did anybody force you to read his rant? does it really matter? why are you even bothering to cut down his *OPINION* look up the word

    if you think the iTunes store is great, all power to you. I personally will never use it, if a CD isn’t worth buying the whole CD, then its not worth having. if an artist wants to put 10 filler songs on a CD, the record label, the artist and whoever else benifits from sales really don’t deserve my money.

    my original point is: his article is a 100% valid opinion. I disagree on some aspects of it, namely ripping to mp3, only because the format doesn’t do as good a job as a lossless (or even a higher quality lossy would). but that doesn’t mean I’m *RIGHT* persay. I could care less what his collection is in.

    I agree with anybody who has stated format X’s DRM is restrictive etc. the old rule tends to stand true. if people want to do something, they will find a way. if the protection system was designed by humans, its breakable by them as well. DRM is a bad idea because people will *ALWAYS* find a way around it. really, if Thomas doesn’t like iTunes store and thinks you’re all a bunch of suckers that have been duped by apple, well fine. It doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t affect you, and you really shouldn’t stress yourself writing angry comments about it.

    My last point drops back to the buying CDs issue. If I’m intrested in purchasing a CD, or have recently discovered a band I like. I will go and download their CD(s). give it a listen or two. and if I like it, I will buy it. if its only got 1 or 2 good songs, I don’t keep it. ~10-30 second low quality previews don’t cut it for me.

    I really hate wading through 18 of the same posts, so if you’re going to write a comment, at least read whats been posted before.

  150. My personal response:
    “Mr. Thomas Hawk – You are an idiot and a prime example of ‘Naive’ and all that goes with it”

    Apple’s DRM – not only can it be removed easily but as far as being compatible in the future…some genius actually invented conversions and you can even use iTunes to do so (how convenient). It’s also created to reduce the amount of music piracy which is the whole point of the excitement surrounding the success of iTunes. It shows that there is a good and now popular way to get music legally.

    “Lp – Cassette – CD – MP3” do you see a pattern here?? Things change and improve with time. Why don’t we listen to vinyl anymore? Because it is inconvenient and the sound quality is poor. Technology has change, but you yourself have admitted that you convert your LPs to MP3. It’s just a matter of time before someone creates a new technology and along with that a way to convert the old stuff.

    Stopping piracy – of course we are never going to stop illegal music similar to stopping illegal drugs, weapon dealing etc because it is not possible. People will attempt to get the music for free if they have the choice, it’s just human nature. At least some people are choosing the secure, ad-free, inexpensive, quality from iTunes. Besides, it’s just beginning and has done pretty well in only three years.

    I don’t expect you to agree with me and I don’t have time to check my grammar and spelling I apologize, but I do have time to suggest something – Keep an open mind

    Apple is an innovative company that has come back from near demise to make a strong attempt at dominating the computer world. Don’t be afraid and jealous of their style, just keep an open mind and look at the issue from both sides.

    Many of the things on (itunes is bogus) and similar sights is either myth, rumor, or similiar to “omission is betrayal”. By leaving partial or whole information out of their “argument” they can make a good point.

  151. Remember: Apple never could have convinced the Music Labels to put their Music on the Web without the DMR. That DMR is Apple’s least restrictive choice to make possible the Music Store’s grand assortment.

  152. Um, ever heard of the public library system? They’ve got collectively billions of CDs for free! All you have to do is borrow them, rip them and return. No money exchange involved at all, unless of course you’re late returning them.

  153. A few points that may have been missed by others:

    Sure, you can buy a CD, rip the songs, then return the CD for 75% of your cost back. However, it is also illegal. Many people want to legally purchase music, and the iTunes Music Store gives them an option to do so.

    Sure, you can borrow a CD from the library, rip the songs, then return the CD. However, it is also illegal. See above.

    Sure, you can purchase DRM-free songs off of certain sites. However, it is also illegal.

    Anyone sensing a trend here? Sure, if you don’t care about breaking the law (no matter how you try to justify it with complaints about evil record companies), then maybe you see iTunes users as suckers. And I’m sure that people who are rich off of dealing drugs see those of us who work regular nine-to-five jobs as suckers too.

    You can go on and on with your rant, but face it: Some people want to legally purchase music, and will put up with some (limited, flexible) form of DRM in order to do so.

    Oh, and for the guy who said, “If it’s not worth buying the whole album, it’s not worth buying”…please. There are plenty of great songs that can be enjoyed independent of the entire album. Ever heard of “American Pie”? Just because you’re a music snob, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is.

  154. I say its not worth buying the entire CD because: generally speaking, if its one of those CDs with 90% filler, chances are that song you like is A: the single (usually available on CD seprately) and B: On the radio every half hour or so. how long do one hit wonders tend to last? how about bands that can manage to put together an hour of music rather than write one song and fill the rest of the CD with filler. in my opinion, (theres that word again!) the artist will probably fade from public memory as they ride their one song fame into the distance.

    that being said. if an artist decides to go that route (and come on, they *HAVE* to be aware that a lot of their songs don’t have as much depth as the single they worked harder on) then I think its showing a lot of disrespect to fill the rest of the CD up so it can be charged as a full CD rather than a CD single (where it belongs).

    I know that I’m not the only one whos tired of cookie cutter bands *cough* Nickelback *cough*, I believe it was their first CD that was quite good. but after they hit big with ‘How you remind me’ they just stopped trying.

    Stuff like that makes me go “hmm… is it really a good idea to spend my hard earned money on a band that doesn’t respect their fans? or maybe I should buy a *Diffrent* CD that I know is good all the way through.”

  155. Umm, you do realize nobody forces you to buy music at the iTunes music store, do you? Besides, copy-protection that any idiot can circumvent is nothing to get upset about. (And yes, practically any idiot can burn a CD and then rip it with iTunes).

    And you do realize that the people who bought these might have done so for a myriad different reasons? Some have enough money, so rebuying really doesn’t matter. Some don’t know. Some used JHymn to losslessly remove the copy protection (up until 6.0, which broke JHymn…). Still others just burn to CD and re-rip. Some don’t know and and a few just don’t give a flying fuck. Calling them suckers doesn’t make you look very smart.

    I won’t even talk about your “argument” that you can just buy a CD and then return it, “for really good value, DUDE!”. I’ll just hope that was a joke.

  156. mp3 = Crystal Clear. Nope!

    Go to your local record store….and ask the clerk “I would only like to buy track #3 from this new CD”, clerk says, “Uhm”

    enough said…..

    Everything in this world is copywrited!!!!

  157. People need to wake up. “Theft” is a simply word companies throw around to appeal to the average person’s sense of write and wrong, and to make the feel bad about some action they took. In reality, calling an action “theft” is a cleverly disguised attempt to manipulate people into following the “rules” set by the company. (Since we all know companies are morally and ethically sound, right?) If I go out and work to find a vendor where I can buy something at a discount, is that theft? No. That’s just good business sense. If I decide not to buy something because I think it costs too much, is that theft? Technically speaking, I deprived the company of money by my action. So what is that about? The truth is that theft assumes that both parties agree to the rules the transaction was made under. Most of the time, I don’t control the rules – the company does. Likewise, I don’t get any say into determining what the rules are. So it’s only natural that some people get fed up with following the company’s rules and try to circomvent the system. Piracy only really becomes a problem when EVERYONE does it, which is almost impossible, because most people were trained to be good sheep and “not steal”. Personally, my feeling is that piracy just brings up a bigger problem of people not feeling in control of their finances and the contracts that they agree to.

  158. Since it’s obvious that the iTunes DRM format is very popular, anybody making a great new device that will play music will want to support it, obviously, or it could hurt their sales… think about it. If somebody makes something that DOESNT play iTunes, then the device isn’t worth my money. Besides, Apple will most likely get into the cell phone business some day, which would obviously be innovative just as the iPod is, and will also obviously play their iTunes. Anybody who is knowledgeable about good, quality technology will realize it’s worthwhile to stick to a company like Apple, and invest in their products even though they may be slightly proprietary, in this case simply with their music store files… and it’s hard to say it’s proprietary when they were really the first major online music store, it’s not like anybody else had started a standard already. Apple will dominate the music, and computer market, people need to get used to it, and live with it.. and most people will gladly do so. So all in all, anybody holding some random samsung, dell, or creative MP3 player better just replace it with an iPod before they get left behind.

  159. Since it’s obvious that the iTunes DRM format is very popular, anybody making a great new device that will play music will want to support it, obviously, or it could hurt their sales… think about it. If somebody makes something that DOESNT play iTunes, then the device isn’t worth my money. Besides, Apple will most likely get into the cell phone business some day, which would obviously be innovative just as the iPod is, and will also obviously play their iTunes. Anybody who is knowledgeable about good, quality technology will realize it’s worthwhile to stick to a company like Apple, and invest in their products even though they may be slightly proprietary, in this case simply with their music store files… and it’s hard to say it’s proprietary when they were really the first major online music store, it’s not like anybody else had started a standard already. Apple will dominate the music, and computer market, people need to get used to it, and live with it.. and most people will gladly do so. So all in all, anybody holding some random samsung, dell, or creative MP3 player better just replace it with an iPod before they get left behind.

  160. Thomas Hawk,

    Thank you kindly for giving me another reason to never buy a paid subscription to Slashdot.

  161. i have spent about $1000 on songs on iTunes, not because i support their format, but because its convenient. Thats all. the fact that it can be ripped to cd is fine enough for me. I dont have time to customize metadata in music. Artist and Song Name are fine (until Creative sues me for patent infringement).

    If a better service came around that’s more convenient, I’ll definately check it out. Until then, thank you Apple.

  162. Thomas, you have made some valid points, but we are talking about the consumer electronics industry. Apple needs to sell product, period. To that end they will try to lock you in by any means necessary, however, they are not unique in their methods.

    mp3 isn’t the answer either. If you want ultimate flexibility then something like .wav is better. At least from there you can create pretty much any format that you want without degrading the quality by swapping between compressed formats.

    Personally, I find the idea of DRM for music downloads laughable. The argument for using it seems to be that we, the consumers, are all a bunch of thieving pirates with no morals and no respect for the artists that toil away to make the music for us to enjoy.

    DRM cannot do what the record companies ultimately want, which is to prevent copying completely, without making the download totally unacceptable to the consumer not to mention the legal implications. So they have to make it more flexible and in so doing leave the door open for piracy.

    There will always be a number of people that will want to get something for nothing, but there are enough who don’t mind paying a reasonable price for their music to keep the music business going.

    Trouble is, the music industry wants to maintain the status quo by using DRM and other draconian measures, but technological advances mean that the way that the industry operates has to change.

    We’re heading towards the era of the digital music marketplace, where it’s all about the relationship between the artist and the consumer. Technology means that artists can make music pretty cheaply, so if they can publicise their works, tour dates etc. well enough to make a living and can create a digital master copy why do they need a record company? Many record companies in their present form are dinosaurs and they will have to adapt or become extinct.

    iTunes, and stores like it, will evolve over time into the digital music marketplaces that I mention above. Artists will go straight to Apple or Napster or whoever else is around, and DRM will be written up as an unfortunate, misguided episode in the history of digital music. Record labels like are the future.

  163. reiterating a lot of what has been said here, but to summarize my feelings: In this day in age, it makes no sense to waste money on music you haven’t heard. Having said that, I must say I’d rather buy music from good people rather than a faceless megacorp. My compromise is to begin with a place that has a fantastic selection AND offers previews. My choice is Aquarius Records. Wonderful eclectic selection, and online previews! Yes!

    If I can’t find what I want at aquarius, I will buy from itunes. Like another person said, i’m not made of money; it’s mostly a monetary decision. I can buy two or three songs from an album that I really like and mix it into my playlists.
    Plus, if I want a whole album, the average cost of an album is $10, which is nice. I’m really into the music and rarely care about the packaging anyway (except genuine independent music, like Finnish Free Folk).

    Speaking of playlists, ipods are popular because Apple go it right (only the solid state stuff; the hard drive ipods suck, well, just as much as any portable devices with hard drives suck). Itunes, despite its DRM, manages playlists and podcasts well, HOWEVER, the fact that your customized data and id3 tags aren’t the same thing TOTALLY SUCKS. It woul d be so simple to eliminate all data loss problems in that area to just adopt the id3 conventions. Hope someone at apple reads this…

  164. Very insightful and well-written essay.

    Some may scoff, but the killer phone is already here. Okay, it’s not a phone, it’s a whole-house music system called Sonos, but same concept.

    The Sonos (for a high price) allows you to play all your digital and analog music all over the house exactly where you want it from a simple, beautiful remote control.

    No more running to one room to get your IPOD or CD in order to dock it or pop it in where you want to play it. Just grab the remote, scroll to the song, choose the room where you want it to play and listen!

    The Sonos is the most beautiful consumer product I’ve seen in years. It’s a killer application which, for those who can afford it, more or less makes everything else in home setups irrelevant.

    The catch is that all the music you purchased from itunes (for me, about $100 worth) won’t play on it due to DRM restrictions.

    If I’d spent thousands to build up my itunes library I’d be very bummed right now.


  165. Here’s a way to slap some money out of the hands of iTunes…

    I use this to have 2.5% of what I spend at iTunes sent to a charity I support. Kind of a way to tell Apple how to spend MY money!

    Go to and click the Goodsearch link on the lower right. The go to the Goodshop area and click the iTunes link. That’ll send your money to that charity. I look at it as a way of doing a little good with my money. 🙂 At a billion songs sold, think of the money (at 2.5% a song) being taken back out of the Apple coffers!

  166. Okay, I’ve spent the last fifteen minutes reading the responses to this powder keg and I’m barely past the halfway mark. Most of it is thousands of people saying exactly the same thing: “copy to cd, then rip from it,’ or people saying why that’s a bad idea. Is there some way to moderate comments to delete duplicates like that?

    Anyway, the reason I’m angrier at Apple than the music industry is that Apple is more restrictive. You buy music through iTunes, you can only listen to it through Apple products. Not Windows Media Player. Not Amarok. Not a $20 mp3 player you bought at Dollar General.

    That’s fine if your mp3 player is an iPod and you use iTunes on Windows or Macintosh, but not so great if you’re a broke college student migrating to Linux. (Which Apple software doesn’t support)

    I’m not an audiophile. I just want an easy way to listen to the music I’ve got without rigging up a Rube Goldberg process, without locking into Apple products, and without distracting lacks of audio quality.

    The RIAA’s DRM is a minor annoyance in contrast. I haven’t yet butted heads with it.

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