London Free Press tries and fails to explain online music usage limits

“Consumers may not be getting what they think when they pay to download music… Among the first pay music services were Apple’s iTunes and Napster 2.0. Most of these services sell songs for about $1 each,” David Canton writes for The London Free Press. “These legitimate paid download sites are not always what they seem to be. Although consumers often assume they are buying unlimited rights to use of the file, they are not.”

Canton writes, “For example, the Napster and MusicMatch stores let its customers transfer the songs they buy up to three times. This means that files can only be stored on three computers before the licence expires and they can be copied no more. The new version of iPod allows five copies. After those set number of uses, consumers will have to purchase the file again should they wish to move the file to a different computer.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: David Canton has gotten a little confused on this whole thing. Where David wrote, “The new version of iPod allows five copies,” we believe he meant “songs purchased from Apple’s iTunes Music Store allows up to five Mac
and Windows PCs to play the songs.” You can listen to the songs on an unlimited number of iPods. Hey, it is confusing when you’re used to buying a physical CD and now there seems to be all of these new limits. We’ll ignore the also-rans like Napster and MusicMatch, as we do when we purchase music for our iPods, and concentrate on Apple’s iTunes Music Store usage:

The iTunes Music Store lets you choose from a library of over 1 million songs currently. You can purchase and download the music you want for 99


  1. Wow, Didn’t know about making a new playlist with the exact same songs. I thought you had to change something. That’s cool. This is mostly to keep iTunes from being used to create commercial Pirate CDs anyway. Anyway Apple has by far the best usage rights that I have heard of so far. BTW how do you de-authorize a computer anyway?

  2. Yup, I had to deauthorize my old iBook before I moved all my music over to my new iBook. Word to the wise, if you’re sending your iBook in for the motherboard replacement program, make sure you deauthorize your iBook beforehand. My brother didn’t do this, and when he got his iBook back, he couldn’t play his music because iTunes kept saying he had already authorized his limit of (at the time) 3 computers. He called Apple and they were able to deauthorize the old iBook setup, so he was okay, but it was just time consuming.

  3. The writer might have confused limited number of copies with limited number of authorized computer but he isn’t confused about the loss of traditional rights. Having bought an album at iTunes (or any other online store that utilizes DRM) I have lost all traditional fair use rights.

    When I buy a CD I can play it, record it, back it up, sell it, give it away, let a friend borrow it, and play it where ever I choose. When I buy music from the iTunes store I can play it (but only on an iPod, a Mac or a PC), I can record it at a SECOND loss of quality, I can back it up. But I cannot sell it, I cannot give it away, I cannot let a friend borrow it, and I can only play it where I have my approved computer or iPod.

    No thanks…I’ll buy the CD.

  4. Buying the actual CD is one thing when it meets the actual compact disc digital audio standards. However thanks to the members of the RIAA more and more CDs sold around the world are defective!

  5. david: if your friends has an iPod you can give it away. Just connect its iPod.

    I play my iTMS tracks on my hi-fi chain (why only an iPod, Mac or PC). Burning a CD out of it sounds without appreciable difference on car stereo (my wife requests music and she has her CDs this way) or on anything that is not extremely high quality.
    I tested with friends: I still have to find one that is able to distinguish a burned CD from iTMS from the real one.

    With my iPod I can carry much more than a CD, or do you go around with all your CDs collection in the trunk?
    Sorry, but with the CD I can only play it where the CD is, usually at home.

    And once you burned the CD what prevents you to “sell it, give it away, let a friend borrow it, play it anywhere”

    Sorry, your reasons are nonsensical.

  6. Another thing would be concerning the *supposedly* better quality of CDs vs iTMS tracks.

    Have you ever run a spectrum analyzer on those track? iTMS fare better than you might think. iTMS tracks are coded from the original digital master at double the sampling and frequency range of what is used to make the CDs you find at the stores.

    AAC at 128kbps out of that digital source fare pretty well. As I said I still have to find one capable to distinguish the difference on a consumer stereo chain.

  7. When you buy an audio book from ITMS, it unfortunately come at 32 kbps, which makes it sound tinny. Also, the unabridged books come in file too large to expand and burn to CD without editing them into smaller files, first.

    Would be happier if Apple offered the music downloads at 160 kbps instead of 128, no matter what some people say about the AAC quality.

  8. Can’t comment on the audio books. For AAC, google for MPEG-4 documentation. They describe AAC (MPEG-4 audio codec) pretty well. It is not what people say, it is what the standard says.

  9. I have to agree 100% with David. The problem with digital music, besides the obvious built in limitations, is the infrastructure you must maintain to ensure that your investmen is never lost. Personally, I can do without all that extra expense and hasle. When I buy the CD, I have a relatively safe and secure copy of the music I enjoy. I also, have the ability to import it into iTunes or any other digital jukebox for my personal listening pleasure. If my harddrive craps out or my motherboard fails I won’t need Apple Support for my music; I’ve still got the original non-compressed, archival version sitting beside the stereo.

    What really amazes me is how gullable people are with regards to all this high tech hucksterism. iTunes and iPod are just the latest gimmicks designed to seperate you from your money. If you like it then great! You’ve probably got your money’s worth. Frankly, I find it more economical to purchase all the inexpensive CD’s that are appearing in the second-hand music shops, and for that, I really can thank the ITMS.

  10. With the plethora of Music clubs to rent and rip CDs it is not even needed to buy a second-hand CD. I may get mines for a week for 40 cents each.

    There is not much difference in buying a CD and import it into iPod or getting the iTMS album and burn the CD. If not for the booklet the result is essentially the same. Actually, the original iTMS track many times sounds better than the imported CD.

    For my use of it, the iTMS/iPod is more convenient. Even with the music-club availability of above, it offers me what? maybe 10% of what can be found on iTMS: They have few thousands titles, mostly old one and few hits.

    Looking for a track on iTMS takes seconds. Going manually through shelves of CDs takes much more time that I can devote to it. iTMS+iPod is enhanced access to music.

    And if of a CD you only want/like a couple tracks then buying the CD is at a loss.
    For some it is not but claiming CDs offer better functionality… well, anyone is entitled to have an opinion for how opinionated it could be. And, I am currently in EU and frankly, CDs are way overpriced. Would you still go for it if the couple songs you like would cost you over $20 to get?

    Anyway, it is a different approach to music and pretty much subjective. What I contest is the effort some puts in trying to demonstrate the *obvious* superiority of CDs (not).

  11. PS
    you need the very same infrastructure you lament for digital music as the one you need to “also, have the ability to import it into iTunes or any other digital jukebox for my personal listening pleasure” which is presented as a plus for CDs.

    ” If my harddrive craps out or my motherboard fails I won’t need Apple Support for my music”
    If your CD reader on your stereo crashes you won’t need it either. Anyway, my iTMS are backed up automatically so I could not care less if the Mac (never happened) would crash and the iPod melt under the sun.

  12. In response to Seahawk, thus far I’ve also been lucky with my Macs and never suffered a catastrophic data loss, however, the possibility exists and various harddrive vendors and backup program developers continue to remind us of the inevitability of that outcome. Similarily, I’ve never experienced a mysterious music CD meltdown; must be luck!

    You made some good points regarding the price of CD’s relative to their content. There is no doubt that we have all been disapointed at various times with CD’s that turned out to contain only one of two decent tunes for a premium price. That, of course, is a problem with the music companies and how they market/edit their products. Perhaps, that is the fundamental cause of their lower proits rather than those illegal downloads of the 90’s.

    Finally, there is one more point that most people seem to miss; music is a language and a fundamental way in which human beings express themselves. If online music services can eventually provide a venue for artists and listeners to interact (a kind of virtual music fest), where consumers can purchase works directly from the artists with only a small service charge (in other words, eliminating the big music companies entirely), then they’ve got my vote. Right now, however, it seems that the music industry is just replacing one marketing model with another and still walking away with our cultural profits. So pick your favourite media, CD’s or Electronic because as far as the profiteers are concerne, it probably doesn’t matter that much.

  13. Chris: two points to add. I might be wrong but Apple claims they pay the artists directly, not through record companies (also, you may put your music on it and if accepted you get your share directly).

    Second: have you ever put your CD in the microwave? I am told it makes for kewl visual effects. Never tried myself ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    As I said, although I never have suffered data losses from faulty HD my iTMS tracks are backed up in no less than 3 different places (in addition to make for some CDs here and there).

    I am grateful to iTMS and single download track system in that I believe gives artists less reasons to create a CD with a couple good tracks and the rest with fillers to make for the CD length.
    I hope/believe it will make for these kind of CDs a tough life.

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