Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that this early report is right -- that Microsoft is, in fact, going to make an offer to all iTunes users to replicate their libraries of iTunes, FairPlay-protected music on the new Zune service at no added cost to the users. There are several questions of fact that leap to mind. Did Microsoft obtain the licensing rights to all of the music that is for sale on iTunes? If not, there will be some iTunes music that is not portable to the new service. Will copyright holders be getting the same amount from Microsoft, when their songs are re-purchased on behalf of migrating iTunes users, as they will get when a user makes a normal purchase of the same track in the Zune system? The copyright holders have a substantial incentive to offer Microsoft a discount on this kind of "buy out" mass purchasing. As Ed pointed out to me, it is unlikely that users would otherwise choose to re-purchase all of their music, at full price, out of their own pockets simply in order to be able to move from iTunes to Zune. By discounting their tracks to enable migration to a new service, the copyright holders would be helping create a second viable mass platform for online music sales -- a move that would, in the long run, probably increase their sales.At a guess, I'd say that it would be very, very hard for MSFT to keep Zune users from faking the contents of their iTunes libraries -- I suspect we'll see the Internet full of hacks to let you pretend to have thousands of songs you haven't bought, which Microsoft will then thoughtfully buy for you. And even if Zune works, well, that's just another company's lock-in; if you buy Zune tunes, you won't be able to switch back to an iPod and take the music with you. Link
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.