Finally DRM-free music at iTunes, but…

Apple announced yesterday that they are now offering iTunes Plus songs (News release – there doesn’t seem to be a permalink). iTunes Plus files are DRM-free, so that is nice. The not so nice part is that if you want to convert your previous purchases to this DRM-free version, you’ll need to to pay: 30 cents (apparently 40 in Canada) per song or 30% of the album price.

Since I’ve been reluctant to buy too much online because of the DRM limitations, this would mean I would have to pay about $25 (for 84 songs) to do what I should be able to do right now: download my music to my non-iPhone phone and stop counting how many times I burn songs.

I am glad that apple is finally giving us our users rights back, but I am still upset that they present it as an added bonus, when it shouldn’t be. I probably will get over it sometime soon and start buying iTunes Plus stuff – lets face it, it’s easy, convenient and very tempting- but right now, while I debate if I’m willing to pay those $25, I am busy sulking.

Want to read more? See the Globe & Mail’s “Apple cuts the digital locks off iTunes.”

– martha



Filed under copyright, technology

2 responses to “Finally DRM-free music at iTunes, but…

  1. Rob

    I think those of us who spend time talking about and writing about technology and music make more of the DRM issue than the average consumer. Most iTunes users play their music on iPods, on their computers or burn it to CD’s. They use iTunes because it is convenient and works well with their iPods.

    If DRM was of significant importance to the average user, Amazon would’ve had customers FLOCK to them to buy MP3’s, especially since Amazon already offers deep discounts on album downloads.

    But they didn’t because the interface and ease of use are more important than the rights protection for most people.

    Doesn’t mean I’m not glad it’s gone or that it isn’t a move in the right direction though.

  2. greyson

    @ Rob – I am sure that those of us who do follow tech news and policy do indeed make more of DRM than those who are less informed. This is probably a good thing – people should generally make more of a fuss about issues about which they care and are aware.
    I do think your point about convenience is an interesting one, though, as a member of the group that has felt caught in the middle between the more-technically-astute and the less-informed. I know enough to know that DRM restricts what I can do with music, and can occasionally do Very Bad Things to my computer, but I don’t know enough/haven’t dedicated the time required to determine exactly how much particular forms of DRM will actually impact my media use. As a result I have never bought a music download from iTunes (or from many other sources that employ DRM). My music consumption has significantly fallen since the demise of neighbourhood “record” stores. Now it is likely that I will download more music in the future, because the convenience factor – not of the iTunes user interface (which I don’t find especially intuitive, although I don’t use it on a Mac) – but of navigating iTunes DRM policy. The risk of being frustrated at potential inability to transfer a song to my mp3 player or a new computer was enough barrier to keep me away. I’m not a member of the largest user group (presumably that’s the less-informed) group), but my intermediary group may well be at least the size of the more-technically-astute one.

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