“Steve Jobs and Apple managed to lure the music industry into licensing the copyrights for the iTunes Music Store even though the Store’s use-restrictions are comparatively mild. There’s a bit of region-coding — you pay a per-download charge based on the country your credit-card is billed to. There’s a bit of multi-use restriction — only five CPUs can be registered to a given iTunes account at a time. There are some miscellaneous restrictions, including ones that are genuinely bizarre, like limiting the number of times you can burn a given playlist,” Cory Doctorow opines for InformationWeek.
“Removing iTunes’s DRM is pretty straightforward. It’s time-consuming, but it’s not too difficult. You just have to burn a CD with the tracks, re-rip the CD tracks as MP3s, and re-enter the metadata, like title and artist. This doesn’t work as well for the expensive audiobooks Apple sells, which generally come in chunks too large to fit on a CD,” Doctorow writes. “So far, so good. The iPod is the number one music player in the world. iTunes is the number one digital music store in the world. Customers don’t seem to care if there are restrictions on the media Steve Jobs sells them — though you’d be hard pressed to find someone who values those restrictions. No Apple customer woke up this morning wishing for a way to do less with her music.”
“But there’s one restriction that’s so obvious it never gets mentioned. This restriction does a lot of harm to Apple’s suppliers in the music industry,” Doctorow writes. “That obvious restriction: No one but Apple is allowed to make players for iTunes Music Store songs, and no one but Apple can sell you proprietary file-format music that will play on the iPod.”
“In some respects, that’s not too different from other proprietary platforms, of course. No one but Microsoft makes Word. But there’s a huge difference between Word and iTunes: Word is protected only by market forces, while iTunes enjoys the protection of a corrupt law that gives Apple the right to exclude competitors from the market,” Doctorow writes. “iTunes is protected by the anti-circumvention provisions in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)…”
Much more in the full opinion piece here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “SmartyGuy” for the heads up.]
Just a note: Motorola makes “players for iTunes Music Store songs” and RealNetworks claims to sell “proprietary file-format music that will play on the iPod.”