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April 20, 2005


mark Hamilton

I feel a lot more sadness about what's happening with Apple and iTunes than I do anger. In order for Apple to do what the record industry should have done -- find a way to get music cheaply and efficiently into the hands of listeners -- the company has had to bow and scrape and increasingly turn on those of us who have supported the company through good and bad. It's not just iTunes: my iPod is capable of recording high quality audio, but that's been downgraded to telephone-level quality by the software.

Darth Vader (new Apple spokesman)

I'm altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it further


Someone wrote on Slashdot that he would accept remotely revokable DRM'd music when vendors would accept his remotely revokable DRM'd Cash. Seems like a fair trade to me.

Even as the 800 pound gorilla, Apple still has to give in to industry paranoia. Apple has made the iPod so that it is like a Roach Motel for music--songs go in but they don't come out. This means that you can't iTunes to use the iPod as a backup for your music files.* Most people think that this one way only sync "feature" was a concession to the music industry, but in any case it is a limitation that nobody wants or asked for. It is also another example of a company limiting your right to legitimately back up your music, which is especially ironic since Apple actually *tells you* to back up your iTunes Music Store purchases because they will not let you re-download the song even though you have supposedly purchased a perpetual license to listen to that music.

DRM is locking up our culture and our creativity in ways that exceed the legal rights of copyright.

*Yes, there are ways to get songs off of an iPod but Apple does not approve of them and has actually revised iTunes to block one of them. Also, you can use the "Disk" feature to back up song files on an iPod, but this will take up additional space the iPod since music files that are copied to the disk portion can't be played for listening by the iPod.


Scote, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying as it seems you are missing a few words, or something, but it sounds like you want to use iTunes to backup your songs on an iPod. I assume this is another machine obviously so here is the Apple note on how to do that.



Thanks for the well intended tips. I'm actually very well versed on the issue of how to use the iPod to back up music, though perhaps my writing skill isn't what it should be. The fact is that Apple deliberately made the iPod so that it would Sync only one way, from iTunes on your computer to your iPod. If you have two computers and you want to copy your songs from your iPod to iTunes on the second computer, you can't do it using iTunes.

There are a number of issues involved here. The primary one is that although Apple authorizes you to play your iTunes Music purchases on and unlimited number of iPods and on up to 5 computers, iTunes provides no way to keep your computers in sync, nor is there built in way for iTunes to cleanly reinstall your backed up music and playlists from a disk drive. From my description you might think this was just an oversight by Apple and that these are minor issues but this is not the case. Apple has deliberately made it difficult for the average user to copy songs off their iPod back to their computer. The apparent reason for this is to make the iPod less convenient for people to take their iPods over to a friends house and let their friend copy music off the iPod.

In the real world, advanced users who want to copy their music off their iPod can get software that will help them do that. And their are many reasons why you would have a legitimate need to do so. You may have multiple computers you want to keep synced with music or you may need to recover songs from your iPod because your computer crashed or corrupted your music files. So advanced users have options, but average users are left mystified and without the ability to copy songs of their iPod because iTunes won't--by design.

A point of confusion is that the iPod can store files in two ways:

1) it can synch playable music from iTunes on your computer to a secret, hidden set of folders on the iPod. This allows you to copy songs and playlists to your iPod so that you can play them on the iPod.

2 )it can store files like a hard drive. You can mount the iPod like a regular disk drive and copy files to it like any other disk drive. Music files copied to the iPod this way can't be listened to on the iPod. Only music files synced via iTunes can be listened to on the iPod.

Apple gives a work around on how you can transfer songs from your iPod to a computer using the "disk" method. Apple will not allow iTunes to copy the normal *playable* songs from your iPod's secret, hidden folders. Instead you have to copy a *third set* of your songs to the "disk" section of your iPod. So, if you have 20 gigs of songs on iTunes (easy to do if you use lossless compression), you'll need 20 gigs of space to put them on your iPod so you can listen to them on it, plus another 20 gigs of space to put the 3d set of the songs on the disk section so you can back them up or copy them to another computer--which is incredibly stupid since the songs are *already* on the iPod in the secret, hidden playback folder. It is also impossible to put the extra set of songs on the iPod if you have just a 20 GB iPod or if, like me, you use your iPod's disk for storing files.

So, you might say, well there *is* a way to copy files off the iPod--even if it is not convenient. Yet that misses the point, the best back up of your iTunes music is the synced music in the iPod's secret, hidden folders, which most people keep current with their favorite songs and playlists. This makes the simplest, most logical back up system, but Apple in its anti-copying paranoia has deliberately made this impossible via iTunes--even going so far as to re-engineer iTunes to block a plug-in that let you sync your songs back from your iPod.

For those enamored of Apple's largess in leaving a back door open so that advanced users can still recover their iPods hidden song files, don't count on Apple leaving that open forever--they can close that loophole at any time in the future via a software "upgrade."


From time to time we see postings like this attacking Apple for somehow limiting users' freedom to use digital music as they please.

Why go after Apple? They should be going after Sen. Hatch and others who are writing stricter copyright laws and after the music moguls who force these restrictions in the first place which Apple (and Microsoft and Real and others) have to adhere to.


John wrote:
"Why go after Apple? They should be going after Sen. Hatch and others who are writing stricter copyright laws and after the music moguls who force these restrictions in the first place which Apple (and Microsoft and Real and others) have to adhere to."

I agree that we should consider all the players, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go after Apple, too.

Apple has done a number of bad things:

-Retroactively reduced the rights customers have to songs they have *already* purchased.

-Used DRM to prevent users from legally reselling iTunes Music Purchases (as allowed under the legal doctrine of first sale--the doctrine that makes used bookstores and used CD stores legal regardless of what Warner Music would like). Apple has even admitted that re-selling an iTunes song may be legal, but that Apple makes it technically impossible to do. There is no way to give away your iTMS songs, will them to your kids or sell them if you are broke--thanks to Apple.

-Deliberatly broke Harmony files from playing on the iPod. Apple actually broke customer's existing, already purchased iPods retroactively. This is like Honda sneaking into your garage at night and changing your car so it will only run on Honda brand gas.

-Has stated that they would keep using DRM even if the record companies didn't require it. Apple now uses the proprietary "Fair Play" Digital Rights Restriction system to lock people's music collection to only Apple branded music players. The restriction is now a way of preventing music customers from leaving the iPod without having to abandon their investment in music. Rights Restriction is about customer control.

Apple is no mere innocent in the Rights Restriction game.

Joe I.

I completely agree with Scote. One thing that bothered be as a fan of second hand CD stores is the fact the Apple prevents the resale of songs after one purchases them. What if I want to have a garage sale and sell my iTunes?....I can't! It is LEGAL to do so but Apple prevents it. I know of two law students who are doing the leg work on a class action suit in this area against Apple. We'll see how it goes. Even as a Apple user who really likes their OS, the FairPlay DRM and the fact that only iTunes purchased songs play on Apple's iPod is outrageous. I know, burn a disk and then rip the MP3 but that cost more, not much in money but time and lossed quality. It is arrogant and wrong to begin with.


"-Retroactively reduced the rights customers have to songs they have *already* purchased."

Actually, this is false. When Apple changed the DRM rules, they updated Fairplay to a new version. Tracks bought under the old Fairplay version did not get additional restriction -- they actually increased usability by giving those files the increased "5 machine" rule (up from 3), but did not change the CD burn rule.

Only new tracks bought under the new Fairplay rules got additional restrictions. In theory, a consumer should have noticed the change in DRM before buying new tracks, but that's probably not the case. But old tracks licensed under the original Fairplay didn't get more restrictions.

Joe I.

Well now according to CNet news as well as the Wall Street Journal online Apple is being picketed for very poor environmental performance and the fact that they have almost no women in senior corporate roles....Looks like the Tiger development team is all white men according to a picture on Apple's website....Shame


Rose wrote:
"Actually, this is false. When Apple changed the DRM rules, they updated Fairplay to a new version. Tracks bought under the old Fairplay version did not get additional restriction"

Sorry, Rose, my statement that Apple "Retroactively reduced the rights customers have to songs they have *already* purchased" is actually true. I didn't specify *which* rights were retroactively reduced--you just assumed I was referring to the number of burns per playlist.

An example of rights that were removed was the breaking of the iLife 3 applications ability to playback iTMS purchased music. Apple lets you use iTunes Music store purchases in iPhoto slide shows and iMovie. When Apple changed their ironically named "Fair Play" Digital Rights Restriction system to break the "Play Fair" software that stripped Apple's restrictions, it also broke the ability of iLife 3 Apps to play iTMS songs. There was no update to fix this problem. The only option was for users to pay $50 to upgrade to iLife 4 so they could use their songs the same way they could before Apple retroactively changed the rules.

The additional restrictions continue, iMovie quicktime movies that have music from iTMS songs imported into them will only play on the same "authorized" computers that the protected song will play on. This is a new "feature." --And for those who would say that iMovie users have no business using commercial songs in their home movies with out a synch license from the songs owner, you have to answer the obvious question of why Apple deliberatly included the ability to import iTMS songs into iMovie, but not FCP. Clearly, Apple thinks it is legitimate for users to make home movies with iTMS purchased songs but keeps adding restrictions retroactively.

Also, Apple reduced the network sharing feature from 5 simultaneous users to 5 specific users per day. Apple has the chutzpah to make this restriction to apply to *all* of your music, not just your iTMS purchases. There is no way to share your CC or public domain songs with more people. Apple just assumes you are a pirate and continues to chip away at your rights.

The ability of Apple to shamelessly rescind the rights people to listen to music they have *already* purchased is unconscionable and needs to be brought to light before all of our culture is DRM'd and revokable at the whim of monopoly holders.


What is the software that "advanced users" can get to backup files onto the second computer? I lost everything when my old computer crashed and I had to reformat my hard drive. I don't want that to happen again

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