MP3tunes founder: Apple iTunes customers are renting the music, rather than buying it

“First announced last week, online music service MP3tunes has officially launched. The service offers 300,000 songs, initially, and plans to add more in the coming months. The service does not utilize digital rights management (DRM) to limit song sharing. Although this might make MP3tunes a target of future litigation, founder Michael Robertson is ready for a fight, if it comes to that,” Elizabeth Millard reports for NewsFactor Network.

“‘The courts have said file sharing is not illegal,’ he told NewsFactor. ‘So we’re simply exercising our legal right to give consumers what we think they might want.’ The main argument underpinning MP3tunes’ refusal to use DRM is that with services such as iTunes, consumers are ‘renting’ the music, rather than buying it. ‘If you buy a CD, you can do what you want,’ said Robertson. ‘You can loan it to friends, or put it on different computers. But with these current music services, you just get to borrow the music.’ That is limiting to consumers, Robertson said. ‘If you pay for something, it should be yours,’ he added,” Millard reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Huh? iTunes customers are buying their music, not renting it. Maybe Robertson meant Napster To Go or some other subscription service? Still, shouldn’t he know exactly what iTunes Music Store (iTMS) offers if he plans to compete with Apple? For the record, from Apple’s iTunes Music Store web page: “The iTunes Music Store lets you quickly find, purchase and download the music you want for just 99¢ per song. You can burn individual songs onto an unlimited number of CDs for your personal use, listen to songs on an unlimited number of iPods and play songs on up to five Macintosh computers or Windows PCs. And the iTunes software works so smoothly on both platforms that you can share music with any combination of Macs and Windows PCs on a local area network — regardless of whether you’re running iTunes on a Mac or PC.” More info about iTMS here.


  1. DRM means apple can and HAS changed the rights you have at any time. It also means if you transfer to too many macs and forget to deactivate on previous macs, all the sudden your music collection is useless. This has already happened to people. Fact is, DRM is a total pain the ass. We are renting not buying with iTunes. Now if apple just watermarked the music with something identifying it’s yours, and didn’t restrict it otherwise, that would be something. They already watermark their music. Then if your music winds up on Kazzaa they would find you. Which means if you use it for filesharing, tsk tsk. But you would be otherwise free to use YOUR music as you see fit. Right now all apple is doing is giving you a longer leash on your rental.

  2. “It also means if you transfer to too many macs and forget to deactivate on previous macs, all the sudden your music collection is useless. This has already happened to people.”

    I’m sorry, but this is absolute bullshit. Should you ever forget to deactivate a previous Mac/PC and run out of computers you can activate, you can call Apple and have them reset your account. You can then re-activate your music on any 5 computers that you want. I know, because I had to do it once. So quit spewing FUD…

  3. rent is right, Do you think the whole DRM thing is Apple’s idea? And Apple’s clout in the player market is the only reason Fairplay DRM is as liberal as it is. Robertson may have some really grand plan, but you will NEVER see a major label offered at MP3tunes.

  4. hilarious!

    rent??? it’s only kind of like “renting” if you were planning to distribute it!

    think about it: for people paying for their music, listening to their iPods, broadcasting to Airport express, and sharing music over networks, do they have any limitations on their music? do they ever run across the DRM???

    it’s only when you are trying to do something potentially questionable – like copy gigabytes of free music from iTunes Music Store, that you run up against DRM. I have been using iPods and iTunes since they came out, and the only hint of DRM is when I have to authorize new computers with the same music. other than that, it’s been totally transparent to me. totally transparent because I’m not trying to steal music!!! so where is the “renting” and where is the DRM? besides, nothing keeps me from ripping to CDs for my car or buying CDs in the first place. so… big deal!

    all this discussion over hypotheticals when most users will never even notice the DRM. iTunes has been successful for exactly this reason! duh! sit here and pontificate over “choice,” “rent,” “ownership,” etc., but don’t pretend you have had any problems enjoying your legitimately acquired music on your iPods and with iTunes.

  5. Not one person on this or any site can say I don’t currently own any and all music that I have PURCHASED from iTMS and be saying that with any shred of truth. I have the paid invoices from Apple indicating my ownership of that music.

    That means I have the right to do with these songs what I want, within the parameters as set forth by Apple, and agreed to by me when I made the purchase, which, by what I can tell, are some of the most liberal out there.

    Apple cannot take the music I purchased back, or change the way I make use of those tracks that I’ve already purchased.


    Is there some wording that I’m missing somewhere in that agreement? If so, prove it.

  6. “rent is right” —

    You’ve been spanked more times in this thread than I ever was for all the times I diddled on the dining room floor! Way to go — LOSER! Hey, here’s a thought: Try reading something other than Marvel comics for a change. O . . . k . . . a . . . y? Or maybe graduate from your Burger King gig.

  7. To gauge the relevance of this site (which uncannily mimics iTMS) you just need to see their Top Artists list: Emily Richards, Darla Day, Siobhan DuVall, Frank Caliendo, Josh Ritter, Craig Einhorn and Dave Rudolf. Can’t wait to see them clean up at the Grammys!

  8. You can already buy music from anyone in Mp3 format at

    It’s Russian so use Paypal, and the artists don’t get squat.

    But then again the same goes for Napster and their subscription service.

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