Apple dropping DRM from music in iTunes, keeping DRM for audiobooks, video

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63 Responses to “Apple dropping DRM from music in iTunes, keeping DRM for audiobooks, video”

  1. Bionicrat2 says:

    @#21 posted by Earth Man ,
    BE WARNED: Apple will be embedding your personal info in the Metadata of the Itunes files you download.I’m glad that DRM is out, but this seems a little creepy to me.

    This issue goes away when you convert the track to MP3.

    On another note, The “upgrade” to DRM-free-tracks-option needs to be rethought out. If you have any albums with many tracks you get jacked. There should be an “album upgrade” option. For example, I’ve got a box set that was only $10 on sale to buy but it’ll cost $15 to upgrade. Whuh?

  2. TheWillow says:

    … Can they retroactively free all of the songs I’ve currently got with DRM, or do I get to keep wasting blank CDRs?

  3. Clif Marsiglio says:

    This is great!

    Apple FINALLY does what Cory and the rest of the copyfighters demand…demonizing Apple all the way even though it was the record industry that prevented them from doing this…and STILL finds a way to make Apple look like the bad guys once again without saying a good thing about this move.

    Without Apple, it would have been a much longer time before we had legal online music purchases. Apple was the first to push for and get a major label to allow for DRM-free music (and I don’t count independent labels that offer the same thing for money that I could go out and download from obscure musician’s site on myspace for free that I’d never look up anyways as a ‘label’).

    Seriously…can’t you say a single good thing about Apple Cory? Or is it against the copyfighter handbook?

  4. t3knomanser says:

    @GBoyer: that was a much more succinct way of saying what I wanted to say.

  5. christov says:

    I’m glad they are keeping DRM for audiobooks.I’m an author, and I can tell you that it scares the crap out of me to wonder where the money comes from if all my work is freely available. It’s not like I can do stadium readings and charge admission. I’ve also never had any problem with DRM for iTunes songs. .99 cents is nothing, and when I recommend a song to a friend it’s easy for them to pay .99 cents to get it too. Big deal.

  6. Skep says:

    Not so fast.

    According to TUAW Apple isn’t dropping DRM for music at all. It is adding lots more DRM free offerings, but, for instance, will be **increasing** the DRM restrictions on some songs.

    “69 cent songs will have greater restrictions on how they can be used: For each song, users will only be able to download it to one Mac, burn it to one CD, and copy it to one iPod.”
    http://www.tuaw.com/2009/01/06/itunes-pricing-and-drm-schemes-updated-for-2009/

  7. windbell says:

    iTunes music is drm-free now, but for the old itunes users, full of
    music must pay a 30-cent upgrade per song, 60 cents for video
    upgrades, it seems a bit expensive and isn’t worthwhile, the very
    economical way I use is with this media converter, it can handle with
    all types drm and common video music files, and also supports batch
    conversion, works easy and great:)

    http://www.wmatomp3-converter.com/digital-media-converter-pro.html

  8. Anonymous says:

    Buy CD’s apple is like skynet

  9. gboyer says:

    @Cory (#16): I don’t think I stated or implied that I thought it was. I just meant that I don’t think Apple’s decisions in this area are ideologically motivated.

    That is, I don’t think they use DRM or no DRM because they have strong feelings that one or the other is “right”–I imagine they use DRM or not based on a judgment of what is best for their business, given various realities over which they only have partial influence (licensing arrangements, etc.).

  10. Cory Doctorow says:

    Apple dropped DRM because its label-partners wanted a vendor-agnostic format, rather than being locked into Apple’s pricing and platform.

    Apple’s keeping the DRM on the other media because the more media they sell with DRM, the more it costs to switch from Apple’s products.

  11. Sean Eric FAgan says:

    Multiple comments from me on this:

    First: Apple’s not the one dropping the DRM — the labels are willing to drop it. Apple is a distributor, and therefore has to abide by their contractual obligations. And heretofore, that’s meant DRM.

    Second: Wow, what a great attitude you’ve got, Cory. Apple finally does get this done, and in the same breath that you grudgingly acknowledge it, you say it’s not good enough. I can’t believe you don’t have everyone in the world falling over themselves to do your bidding!

    Third: @TheWillow: in iTunes, there’s a link for “iTunes Plus” (right-hand column for me, in the section just under the big graphics at top). Click on that, and it’ll let you upgrade your library to whatever songs are currently available in iTunes+. It costs, mind you. (Right now, it says it’s just under $51 for me, and I think I’ll go for it.) This works by downloading the new track, and then it’ll ask you if you want to keep the old one around or move it to the trash. A word of caution, though: almost all of the troubles I have had purchasing content have been doing this. In one case, I had to go and find the new .m4a file, and manually import it. That was a couple of release of iTunes ago, though.

    Fourth: one problem I see with videos is that a big thing for movies on iTMS is rentals. And you’re not going to get that without DRM. If the music store had gone for rentals (as a lot of people had been telling Apple they simply must do), then DRM wouldn’t’ve gone away for that, either, I suspect.

  12. BingoTheChimp says:

    @44

    http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2009/01/06itunes.html

    “Changes Coming to the iTunes Store

    All Songs DRM-Free
    Users Can Download Songs Directly Onto iPhone 3G Over Their 3G Network for the Same Price
    In April 2009, Songs on iTunes Will be Available at Three Price Points”

    The wording is ambiguous in the body of the press release itself. Maybe we’ll have to wait and see if that means “All Songs Available DRM-Free For a Higher Price” or “All Songs Exclusively DRM-Free” — or both!

  13. Scurra says:

    There’s an hilarious line in the BBC mews website article on this story:

    “The move could potentially spell the end for DRM limited music, which was never popular with users or the record industry. ”

    But yeah, the piece here does sound a bit like damning with faint praise. Then again, the move was pretty inevitable – what I find interesting is that it was the big announcement at the show, which doesn’t really match up to the last few years, does it?!

  14. jphilby says:

    “iTunes Plus” isn’t DRM-free. It’s a proprietary format with user information embedded in it in plaintext.

    Just because Apple calls it DRM-free doesn’t mean you have to feed that pig.

  15. Cory Doctorow says:

    Christov, you’re glad that Apple is keeping mandatory DRM for audiobooks, even when the publisher and author don’t want it? You think that this is a blow for author’s rights?

    Sean, there’s a universe of audiobook rightsholders demanding that Apple allow their products to be sold without DRM and Apple’s ignoring them. How does this fit into your theory that Apple only puts on DRM when rightsholders force them to?

  16. arkizzle says:

    XKCD gets it wrong! (in the mouse-over)

    http://xkcd.com/527/

  17. imipak says:

    I’ve been loving the enormous selection of DRM-free, mp3 format downloads from 7Digital since stumbling onto them from a discrete ‘buy this tune’ icon on last.fm. I held off buying music online since getting politicised about DRM through being sued by the DVD CCA for mirroring deCSS. As a result of this pent-up demand I’ve splurged well over $1000 in the last year filling gaps in my collection, as well as discovering several new (to me) artists through their free promo downloads,.. including a cool band called CSS, amusingly enough. Sorry Apple — it’s too little, it’s too late, and I don’t care how lickable and hip you make those manacles look, freedom’s important to me. 7Digital have my loyalty now.

  18. Cory Doctorow says:

    Gboyer: you don’t think that “Your personal music player should take orders from other people at your expense” is an ideology?

  19. Sean Eric FAgan says:

    Cory @11: So in the one breath you say that it’s the producer’s choice — and they want to get rid of Apple’s stranglehold — and in the next breath, you say it’s Apple’s choice, and they want to increase their stranglehold?

    Which is it? Is it Apple’s choice, or the producer’s choice?

  20. fenrox says:

    @#31 Anon, I am 26, not 27. Its totally possible to ignore the make believe notion of karma, just as easily as I offset guilt with other things.

    And I could prove to you how much of a fool you are but it would require a portal to the infinite nothingness that lies behind death, I will be sure to tell you when it’s finished.

    ANYWAY, seriously what will this mean to people? What can you do to a non DRM laced file that you cannot do now?

  21. Clif Marsiglio says:

    @reville

    “a. Audible.com has more bargaining leverage than Apple.”

    This might be the case…Amazon owns Audible now. Amazon has made it a priority to not sell their music in DRM…and until yesterday was the largest DRM-free online music store (and doing well), but for some reason hasn’t felt the need to pull the DRM off their Audible stuff.

    I can theorize several reasons why…most more legitimate than the sharing of music and reasons to DRM it.

    “b. In fact, Audible.com has such overwhelming bargaining leverage that Apple can’t even get them to let authors decide if they want to have DRM.”

    You mean, Apple can’t force someone to change contracts with someone in their company? I mean when Apple came to my company and told me to change the contracts I had with people working for me…I didn’t have a choice…did I?

    “c. Steve Jobs has so little influence at Disney that he can’t even get a couple Pixar movies to be DRM free.”

    Being the largest shareholder means he gets a seat at the table. He also has to worry about conflict of interest as both the CEO of Apple and the largest shareholder. Both could get him removed as either. For all you know, he has brought this to the table…which is all he can legally do…largest shareholder doesn’t mean he can do what he wants…heck, he is only a minority owner even at that (what? 7%?)

  22. Sean Eric FAgan says:

    Cory@14: As far as I know, Apple only gets the books from Audible.com. Are there other audio books that Apple provides? I’d love to hear of it, if so! And, again as far as I know, Audible is the one who gets to demand DRM or allow it to be DRM-free.

    You’re more likely to know information here than I am, and I will believe you — and shake my fist mightily at Apple — if you tell me that some audiobook providers (that is, the entities that actually provide the content to iTMS, and have the contractual relationship with Apple) have demanded no DRM on audiobooks and Apple has ignored this.

    This, however, doesn’t change anything about the music store, now does it? Is it really so difficult to say “wow, finally, one of the biggest things we’d been demanding is happening! Thanks everyone who helped make it happen!”? Or is it only so difficult because it’s Apple?

  23. jjasper says:

    I heartily recommend supporting eMusic’s audiobook (and music) service, which is on average half the price of what you’d pay on Audible, in MP# format, an able to be re-downloaded as long as they have the right to sell it.

    They’re a good company, and provide a viable model for distributing digital music and books at a good price. You can get Little Brother there. .

    Anyhow, this is a step in the right direction for Apple. Studios and audiobook companies (and publishing companies) are nervous about turning off DRM. They’re the one’s calling the shots on this.

  24. edgore says:

    @45 – thanks for the link – I hadn’t seen a mention before that they were keeping the 99 cent price – .69 – .99 – 1.29 is a much better range (though it haunts me with it’s almost mid-90′s Taco Bell-like rhythm).

  25. Stephen says:

    Julian Bond wrote:

    “- What you’re actually buying in iTMS is hidden. Whenever I look, It’s not at all clear to me whther a specific track or album is DRM or non-DRM, 128 or 256. When it’s 10% DRM instead of 90% DRM will the DRM tracks have large flashing red warning signs?”

    This is false. Every track has a box with a plus sign if it is DRM free. All of these tracks are 256. This is not hidden it is advertised.

    “- Everything plays MP3. Not everything plays AAC. And I don’t think I can tell the difference in sound quality at 192Kb or above. So I’d rather have MP3 or FLAC as an archive converted to MP3 for playing.”

    AAC is a perfectly good open standard (when it does not have DRM) this may be your preference, but it is not a political issue.

    “- It’s all too expensive and Apple will probably have succeeded in pushing the price up with the latest changes rather than bringing it down. So I guess they feel they still have no real price competition. For me and millions of others the paid sources are competing with free and the only thing they’re selling is convenience. And convenience isn’t worth $0.69, $0.99 or $1.29. Judging by my own use of allofmp3, convenience is worth about $0.15 for a 192Kb VBR LAME MP3 and maybe $0.25 for a lossless FLAC”

    The price changes are what Apple finally conceded to the RIAA in order to get rid of the DRM. This fight has been very public. To sayy that Apple succeeded in raising prices is visibly false.

    “- Apple is the retailer and to some extent they are constrained by their wholesale suppliers. But and its a big BUT, they are the people I interact with as a customer. And what’s worse is that they they are pursuing their own agenda and using the DRM to lock us into their orbit. So I’m heartily sick of the fanbois apology that “It’s not Apple’s fault, it’s the record company’s”. The famous Jobs letter reads like a bit of truly evil hypocritical spin to me.”

    So you’re saying its evil to publicly lobby against DRM?

  26. yesno says:

    Why on earth would you want Apple to downgrade to MP3s?

    AAC is just as “open” as MP3 from an IP point of view. Nearly everything can play AACs by now, except for a few bargain audio players. And AAC is technically superior to MP3 (though both are far from being the best lossy format).

    I’m no huge fan of AAC, but it’s certainly a step beyond MP3.

  27. Anonymous says:

    - What you’re actually buying in iTMS is hidden. Whenever I look, It’s not at all clear to me whther a specific track or album is DRM or non-DRM, 128 or 256. When it’s 10% DRM instead of 90% DRM will the DRM tracks have large flashing red warning signs?

    In theory, all iTunes Plus songs are denoted by a +. Since apple is touting that they’re upgrading everything to iTunes Plus, it’s safe to assume that anything that doesn’t say iTunes Plus is still to old style DRM’d crud. They’re also saying that everything (sans the afore mentioned audiobooks and TV shows) is going DRM free, this is probably a short term issue.

    - Everything plays MP3. Not everything plays AAC. And I don’t think I can tell the difference in sound quality at 192Kb or above. So I’d rather have MP3 or FLAC as an archive converted to MP3 for playing.

    True, but you can convert formats. 100% legally. No downloading of a shady, possibly / probably DMCA violating DRM stripping utility. It’s your track, you paid for it. Yes it’s an extra step, but Apple has always had some hard-on for AAC. Sure, you’re paying for the upgrade to a DRM free track, but you’re also going from a 128k bitrate to 256k, so there’s that.

    I wonder how much of Apple’s sloth is related to the deals they’ve signed in the past holding them back. For example, if they sign a distribution deal with XYZ records, and that deals stipulates that they will DRM that companies music files, then they’re stuck in that contract. If Amazon comes along and signs their own deal with XYZ records, and that deal doesn’t include DRM, Apple is still stuck under the terms of the contract they signed.

    Either way, a win’s a win. With Jobs as the largest individual stockholder at Disney, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the same move for TV and Movie distribution. Don’t kid yourself, it’ll be a long fight since TV and Film aren’t backed into the same corner as the music industry. But once Disney opens their content library up and goes DRM free, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

  28. rdi says:

    @10 – “Turns out this was idle speculation from one of our colleagues, and not part of the changes today.”

  29. Earth Man says:

    BE WARNED: Apple will be embedding your personal info in the Metadata of the Itunes files you download.I’m glad that DRM is out, but this seems a little creepy to me.

  30. yesno says:

    To the extent that DRM is necessary for movie rentals and streaming, at least, it’s a good thing.

    Without DRM, digital technology makes it impossible to “rent” files in the way I can rent a disc.

    I’d rather have DRM and rentals and streaming, than no DRM and no rentals or streaming. I want to watch movies; I don’t want to build a collection of them.

    Of course, I don’t want DRM on a movie that I might actually *buy*.

  31. yesno says:

    @JPHILBY #37

    Even if you were right, you’d be wrong. Because DRM does not mean the same thing as “proprietary.”

    But you’re double wrong. AAC files are just as “open” as MP3. They are both encumbered by various IP restrictions, but AAC is an open format in that anyone can license it on equal terms.

    Furthermore, it’s not even Apple’s format. It’s Dolby’s.

  32. midknyte says:

    @4

    He did not state that mp3 is lossless. Those are two separate sentences…

    “…Now they should consider offering mp3 format and not just aac. Offering everything in a lossless format would be the bomb!…”

    Albiet if he had stated – “Also offering everything in a lossless format would be the bomb!”, it would have been clearer.

    And,

    “…Anyway, I don’t mind about the AAC, given the relatively high bitrate. These days it’s easy enough to find some opensource to convert it into the format you’d prefer…”

    That would only increase the degredation as AAC is lossy. It’s much better to just have a choice of original encoding. I really miss Allofmp3.

  33. jjasper says:

    Audible is not the publishing industry, or the independent studios that produce audio books. Audible needs to convince them to go DRM free first. They can’t just make it happen.

  34. Skep says:

    @ #20 posted by rdi , January 6, 2009 1:00 PM

    Thanks for the update, rdi. As rdi noted, TUAW has now retracted the claim about extra restrictions on 69 cent songs.

  35. Bionicrat2 says:

    @44 apple says you can upgrade an album for 30% of the album price

    As it turns out, the few albums I’ve bought on iTunes aren’t even available as iTunes Plus yet. Bad luck I guess. Check out Elvis Presley. Almost half of his stuff is still DRMed.

  36. jtn says:

    @21 Earth Man – Are you referring to some information watermarking that’s been known about and reported on over a year ago by everyone? Its limited to your iTMS login name, which really shouldn’t raise even the most paranoid person’s hairs, unless you’ve been violating copyright by passing around the music you’ve purchased to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

  37. edgore says:

    While I have not actually had a chance to look through and see which songs are priced at $1.29 and which are priced at $0.69 I am going to assume that the pricing will be based around “songs you want are $1.29 all others are $0.69″. My first reacation is “exactly why is the price of the product going up by 30% while Apple’s costs are going down since they no longer have to invest in developing DRm technology for music”? Isn’t Amazon still a much better deal overall, assuming they have the song you want?

  38. reville says:

    It’s amazing to see the apologists in this thread try to defend Apple’s misleading and manipulative history with DRM. We are not talking about small potatoes, the stakes are big– DRM is a technological model that threatens to fundamentally alter the relationship between people and culture through a corporate mandate.

    The idea that Apple deserves some great thanks for partially abandoning a harmful policy (that also harmed their revenue) is laughable.

    Look back at Steve Jobs 2007 DRM open letter (notice that I’m able to quote, since his letter was DRM free):

    “Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

    Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.”

    If you agree that Steve Jobs was correct in this letter that DRM is worse for consumers and you believe that he cares enough about that belief to take any action other than PR, you would have to also believe the following:

    a. Audible.com has more bargaining leverage than Apple.

    b. In fact, Audible.com has such overwhelming bargaining leverage that Apple can’t even get them to let authors decide if they want to have DRM.

    c. Steve Jobs has so little influence at Disney that he can’t even get a couple Pixar movies to be DRM free.

    Clearly, all three of these statements are laughable, if you know anything about the companies involved.

    The reality is that Apple has never been honest about their position on DRM. They have only made changes when consumer pressure has become intense. This change of policy isn’t a generous gift for the good of the world, it’s a business decision that will earn Apple more money because consumers have learned about why DRM sucks and they don’t want to be forced to use it. This awareness has grown directly from the work of activists at the EFF, Defective by Design, Public Knowledge, and many others.

    If consumers show indifference to DRM for TV and movies, we’ll be stuck with DRM on TV and movies for ever. But if consumers demand media that isn’t held hostage by a DRM system, we’ll be done with DRM for good.

    In reply to Sean’s comment at #18, yes! I am thrilled to say “wow, finally, one of the biggest things we’d been demanding is happening! Thanks everyone who helped make it happen!”

    But your implication that Apple helped make it happen is ridiculous, ignoring the market pressures, the history, and the relationship with the record labels. The people who made this change happen are the people who have been talking about the dangers of DRM for years and the customers who have started avoiding DRM saddled products. The public has won this small part of the battle, but until we bring the same attention to DRM on video and audiobooks, the job is far from over.

  39. fenrox says:

    Hello, Can most of you rabble rousers shut up and then un-shut up to answer a question?

    What does a DRM free file of “holla back girl” exactly do for me? I would just steal it normally, so am I just NOW getting the same thing that I have been stealing for years?

    If it isnt saddled with DRM, it just means I can move it to any or as many computers as I want right?

    There are no interesting changes to the ipod or the way its DRM affects your ability to move music and be awesome?

    So this information is only pertinent to the fools that trade their wage slips for music? Right?

  40. Anonymous says:

    @ CHRISTOV.

    You must be delusional. Moments ago I were contemplating buying an audiobook from iTunes, but did a Google search first to make sure that I could actually play the files on my mobile device. Now I’m more inclined to get it from The Pirate Bay. DRM and any kinds of restrictions on media playback PROMOTES and ENCOURAGES piracy. Wake up before you lose even more money.

  41. Micheal Kelly says:

    Reville:

    “Clearly, all three of these statements are laughable, if you know anything about the companies involved.”

    Why? Explain please. Do you work for any of these companies? Are you on a first-name basis with their management and executive staff? If so, then perhaps you can speak as to the interactions between them and Apple … but if not, then who are you to infer/say exactly what is going on behind closed doors at companies that you have no involvement with?

  42. Micheal Kelly says:

    Oh and Cory: take your victories when you get them. There is no more DRM on Apple music. Audio books and films hopefully aren’t that far off. Celebrate today, and wait until tomorrow to gripe about what hasn’t changed.

  43. Stephen says:

    “Apple dropped DRM because its label-partners wanted a vendor-agnostic format, rather than being locked into Apple’s pricing and platform.”

    So Cory, you’re really saying it’s the RIAA that pressed Apple to remove DRM? You’re really saying that?

    Really?

    So you’re saying in public that the RIAA are the good guys, pressing the evil Apple to get rid of DRM?

  44. spookypeanut says:

    This is a good move, but I agree with Cory. Why are audiobooks different?

    I got three audiobooks for Christmas, but since I despise DRM, I got them on CD and have spent most of my free time since ripping and tagging them nicely (ok, partly because I’m slightly obsessive).

    Still, the point is there. These audiobooks can be ripped, in full quality, as mp3s, flac, whatever, just by one person buying the CD version. Not providing a DRM-free download has no effect, except to waste money burning producing and distributing the CDs.

    I think it’s time for me to write a letter to Amazon, owners of Audible.com.

  45. Mycroft says:

    I’d kill babies all day for legit DRM-free audiobooks, but I’m a sucker and will continue to buy from Audible. Curse their awesome membership prices!

  46. arkizzle says:

    iTunes Store: iTunes Plus Frequently Asked Questions

    What is iTunes Plus?
    iTunes Plus refers to songs and music videos available in our highest-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding (twice the current bit rate of 128 kbps), and without digital rights management (DRM). There are no burn limits and iTunes Plus music will play on all iPods, Mac or Windows computers, Apple TVs, and many other digital music players.

    iTunes DRM-protected music includes audio with a bit rate of 128 kbps and allows users to transfer songs and videos to up to five computers, burn seven copies of the same playlist to CD, and sync to an unlimited number of iPods.

    How much does iTunes Plus music cost?
    iTunes Plus songs, music videos, and albums are available at the same price as DRM-protected versions content.

    Can I upgrade previously purchased music to iTunes Plus?
    Yes. Any available upgrades will be shown on the Upgrade My Library page (Music received for free is not eligible for upgrade.). You can upgrade all music at once by using the Buy button. This replaces all music you’ve bought previously on iTunes with available iTunes Plus versions of the same music. You cannot choose which songs, music videos or albums to upgrade individually. Song upgrades are available for $0.30, video upgrades for $0.60, and albums for 30% of the album price. iTunes Plus music will continually be added to iTunes, so check back often to find new music available for upgrading.

    Can I still buy music encoded at 128 Kbps with Digital Rights Management (DRM)?
    Yes, you can still buy music encoded at 128 kbps with DRM. However, music which is available in iTunes Plus will replace DRM-protected music on the iTunes Store.

  47. Earth Man says:

    @25 JTN: Well, color me uninformed, I had no idea. Now that I check out my iTunes’ metadata, there it is: my email address.

    Fortunately, neither I nor anyone I know would ever, ever do anything to violate US copyright laws.

  48. Bionicrat2 says:

    @#39 I’d have to whole-heartedly disagree that emusic is a good company. There was a time I did agree with that statement but over the past couple of years I’ve tried them on and off again and always leave with a bad experience. 1st, their fluctuating subscription date is a very shifty way to operate. I’ve even had it refresh earlier than was listed (which leads to the other issue). Terrible, terrible customer support. Twice I’ve had it take a full month for someone to get back to me and by then my subscription was refreshed again meaning there was now compounded problems for some clown to straighten out.

    @#40 Why do you presume the pricing would be a different tiered system than Amazon’s where the most popular tracks are the cheapest?

  49. Daemon says:

    Wierdly enough, a lot of us want to be able to convert our nice, open MP3s INTO the audible format… because mp3 players that support it have some really nice features that don’t exist for plain mp3s at the moment.

  50. BookPodder says:

    I think it’s going to take the big publishers feeling real pain from sinking sales before DRM on audiobooks goes away.

    The real cash – to the publishers – is in sales of their digital titles to library services such as OverDrive or NetLibrary and not in individual title sales to individual consumers. When large library systems – and entire state systems – so willingly cough up tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars each for access to heavily restricted titles, it doesn’t become top priority for publishers to drop DRM. Selling DRM’d titles en masse to libraries is far easier (read: cash gets to pocket quicker) than selling accessible titles to individuals.

    Keep in mind that even publishers that make publicity splashes by “dropping DRM” are not always the beacons of hope they may seem to be. Random House gets much ink (e and otherwise) for their dropping of DRM from their audio files, yet Audible gets flack for imposing DRM on said files. Be aware that Random House HAS dropped DRM on direct consumer sales of their titles through some services, yet they still impose DRM on their titles that they “sell” to libraries through services such as OverDrive. They will sell a title DRM free to an individual for $26.95 through OverDrive’s partnership with Borders, but the very same title is only made available through OverDrive to libraries in a restricted format – per Random House’s requirements.

    If your local library (particularly public libraries) subscribes to download services, question the Director as to how they justify investing money into a service that presents so many barriers to access by users and seems to put the financial interests of content providers before those of the users.

  51. pahool says:

    Great that they’re making this step. Now they should consider offering mp3 format and not just aac. Offering everything in a lossless format would be the bomb! I may eventually buy my first tune from itunes.

  52. edgore says:

    @41 – I’m not – I’m assuming that whatever I song I happen to want at the moment will be in the higher price bracket just because of bad luck on my part. I guess that what I don’t like is a strict “much less expensive than the old price or much more expensive that the old price” stratification without anything in between – it seems like it will lead to very strange pricing strategies, since you have only two tiers and they are so widely separated.

  53. Anonymous says:

    DRM is ridiculous. More ridiculous is charging extra to remove it.
    -Alexander Dombroff

  54. CourtMerrigan says:

    @#51, I agree about taking your victories where you can get them, Cory. I think it’s likely that Apple will eventually go DRM-free in all their media. They’re just starting with music because that makes the biggest splash. Seems to me they’ve read the tea leaves and they’re not going to continue fighting the future.

    As Cory suggests, surely the record labels are involved in this. So how does this fit in with the RIAA’s recent efforts to go after ISPs to crack down on downloaders? Makes for a confusing picture, for me at least.

  55. jmendonsa says:

    While I agree with you, Cory, I think making the world’s top online digital music store DRM-free is a bigger step than you’ve given Apple credit.

    Asking them to do the same for Hollywood (which has arguably been in the fight for a few less years than RIAA) at the same time is, frankly, asking a lot for a company who is effectively a distributor.

    I do, however, completely agree with the audiobooks. Hollywood may be a bit big for Apple, but Apple is big enough to pressure Audible to not be douchebags.

  56. t3knomanser says:

    Why?

    1) Because Apple wants to sell audiobooks, and Audbile- the largest digital supplier (also owned by Amazon)- wants DRM.
    2) Because Apple wants to sell movies, and Disney is only one of many studios. The movie industry is about half a decade behind the music industry when it comes to digital distribution, and the music industry is about half a decade behind reality. The movie studios want DRM. Apple wants to sell movies, so it sells them with DRM.

    The worlds largest digital distributor of music has eschewed DRM for its core product. That’s awesome. Other media types are sure to follow.

  57. Anonymous says:

    @Fenrox (#27): Believe it or not, some of us “fools” actually like to give a few bucks to performers who entertain us with their recordings. Sure, if those performers are signed to RIAA labels, we can’t be 100% sure they’re getting that money, but we can still support them through other non-RIAA avenues, like concerts and merchandise.

    Sometimes, we fools actually feel good when we support an artist whose talent we enjoy. We like to give back when we’re entertained.

    But hey, you just go right ahead being a leech. You’ll get back whatever you give.

  58. Julian Bond says:

    It looks like its not yet time to stop wearing the T-Shirt (DRM is killing music, and its a rip-off).

    A few random thoughts.

    - What you’re actually buying in iTMS is hidden. Whenever I look, It’s not at all clear to me whther a specific track or album is DRM or non-DRM, 128 or 256. When it’s 10% DRM instead of 90% DRM will the DRM tracks have large flashing red warning signs?

    - Everything plays MP3. Not everything plays AAC. And I don’t think I can tell the difference in sound quality at 192Kb or above. So I’d rather have MP3 or FLAC as an archive converted to MP3 for playing.

    - It’s all too expensive and Apple will probably have succeeded in pushing the price up with the latest changes rather than bringing it down. So I guess they feel they still have no real price competition. For me and millions of others the paid sources are competing with free and the only thing they’re selling is convenience. And convenience isn’t worth $0.69, $0.99 or $1.29. Judging by my own use of allofmp3, convenience is worth about $0.15 for a 192Kb VBR LAME MP3 and maybe $0.25 for a lossless FLAC

    - Apple is the retailer and to some extent they are constrained by their wholesale suppliers. But and its a big BUT, they are the people I interact with as a customer. And what’s worse is that they they are pursuing their own agenda and using the DRM to lock us into their orbit. So I’m heartily sick of the fanbois apology that “It’s not Apple’s fault, it’s the record company’s”. The famous Jobs letter reads like a bit of truly evil hypocritical spin to me.

    - The iPod is a lovely device but some aspects of it suck. iTunes on Windows sucks big time. iTMS sucks. So why do so many people use it all? Are they stupid? Do they just not know any better? Or are they suckers, sucked into the Jobs reality distortion field?

  59. Anonymous says:

    Pahool: MP3s aren’t lossless. Are you thinking of FLAC?

    Anyway, I don’t mind about the AAC, given the relatively high bitrate. These days it’s easy enough to find some opensource to convert it into the format you’d prefer.

  60. Anonymous says:

    @34, apple says you can upgrade an album for 30% of the album price.

    can someone point to anything from apple that says they’re actually dropping drm? i’ve seen this said here and in headlines elsewhere, but everything i’ve seen from apple seems to imply that all content (as opposed to only some content) on itunes will be available without drm, for a price. i say ‘imply’ because the website doesn’t seem to be clear as to what’s going on.

  61. dltallan says:

    Whatever you think of what Apple should be doing, the dichotomy that Cory points out simply isn’t there. That’s because Apple is not getting rid of the DRM on it’s music. There is no evidence that Apple thinks DRM “is so foul it can’t be borne when it comes to music sales”.

    All the tracks with DRM will still be there and still be sold with DRM. It’s just that, for a higher price, you can buy them without DRM. As far as Apple is concerned DRM (even on music tracks) has a definite value. It allows them to charge a higher price for the DRM-free tracks.

    (Whether that is analagous to charging a higher price for touch tone telco service than rotary dial service, when the former is cheaper to provide than the latter, I leave to others to decide.)

  62. gboyer says:

    The answers to your questions seem obvious. Apple’s stance on DRM is likely informed by what is good for their business, and not any kind of ideology.

    In other words, Apple would rather sell things without DRM than things with DRM–because that is better for their business–but they would rather sell things with DRM than not sell that thing at all–because that is better for their business.

  63. WarLord says:

    Publishers are dumber than music compamies and writers would use typewriters if they could find them. Is it any wonder they want DRM?

    Writers need to get a clue. The enemy of books is not theft, and its certainly not piracy. The enemy of books is illiteracy with a side order of apathy.

    I hope when I finish my book, somebody likes it enough to steal it!

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