Sydney Morning Herald writer dispenses ‘advice’ while being quite confused about MP3, AAC, DRM

“We’re going to show you how to copy that stack of audio discs onto your desktop or laptop so you can enjoy your favourite tracks while you work, surf or just potter around. If you decide to invest in a pocket-sized portable digital music player such as the inimitable iPod – so you can take those tunes with you – then all the better. But let’s start with the basics,” David Flynn writes for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Flynn writes, “Before copying your first CD, we strongly suggest you ensure your software is set to record the tracks as MP3 files. These can be enjoyed on any digital music player, along with most home DVD decks (if the tracks are copied back onto a CD) and an increasing number of car CD players. They can also be copied over and over, and shared around between people – handy for you but not an idea that pleases the music industry.”

Flynn writes, “That’s why copy-protected music formats (the jargon here is Digital Rights Management or DRM) came into being in the shape of the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format of Apple’s iTunes and Microsoft’s own Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. As a sop to the record industry, iTunes and Windows Media Player set their respective copy-protected formats as the default format for ripping. If you slap down that default setting and change it to MP3, you’ll be able to play your music on any PC, any digital music player and anywhere else you choose.”

MacDailyNews Note: Flynn’s advice and facts are incorrect. AAC is not “Apple’s copy-protected music format.” AAC is an audio codec that is superior to the old MP3. Think of it as MP4 Audio, because that’s what it is. It has nothing whatsoever to do with DRM (Apple’s DRM is called “FairPlay.”) We recommend ripping into AAC as it offers higher quality and smaller file sizes than MP3. More about AAC here:

Flynn continues, “In what we hope is the start of a trend away from locked-in formats and towards freedom of choice, Apple says it will soon sell MP3 versions of songs from the EMI catalogue…”

MacDailyNews Note: Actually, Apple will soon sell AAC files without FairPlay DRM. Apple won’t soon be selling MP3s – just like Exxon won’t soon be selling leaded gas. Before David Flynn decides to dispense advice in the newspaper, we advise that he first learn at least a little about the subjects he’ll be covering.

Full article here.


  1. It’s almost like these publications get hire people with no knowledge or ability to learn about the subject they’re hired to write about.

    It’s like me writing about advanced calculus. I know what it is but I don’t know the subject to write and be authoritive about it. But that would stop me from getting published in any magazine, book or other media on the subject. Apparently not in the tech world where all you have to be an authority on something is the ability to type.

  2. Here’s the thing. Last time I checked (which was a while ago) Windows Media Player wouldn’t allow you to rip MP3s – not unless you paid extra. Everything was WMA – and set to automatically turn on copy-protection.
    iTunes (AFAIK) doesn’t turn automatically (if at all) turn on copy-protection of CDs you rip.

  3. I just wish his email address was published. Every time this guy writes a piece, it is absolutely wrong. Not ocassionaly – EVERY time!!! I just figure he is Murdoch’s (cough – er – cough) masseuse.

    If he could be any more wrong, he would receive the Australian Citizen of the Year Award – they sure gave that one to the wrong guy this year!!!

    Sure glad he doesn’t play cricket fo us.!!!


    Yep, I have turned very Aussie – love the cricket!

    MDN – turned (took a stretch to write that one in).
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  4. @Long duc Dong

    That reminds me of a line I read somewhere….

    People say if you play the Windows XP install CD backward you can hear satanic messages….but thats NOTHING because if you play it forwards, it installs Windows!

  5. David Flynn is one of the Sydney Morning Heralds resident technology columnists who constantly mis-represents all things Apple. He is a FUDmeister of the highest order. Read any of his pieces and you will see that despite occasional praise you are always left with a lingering doubt if you were to buy anything Apple. Treat with caution – he is a knob.

    In fact, the SMH rarely publishes anything positive about Apple – the whole publication is grotesquely skewed in favour of MS and the corporate masses still living in last centurys paradigm. Its shameful.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.