Music Download Stores Risk Backlash From Enslaved Users

from the it's-all-about-the-lock-in dept

While there hasn’t been much backlash yet, a new study is suggesting that the ridiculous levels of lock-in required by the various download music stores means that users are going to get increasingly pissed off that they don’t actually own the music they thought they bought — and that it only plays on certain devices for a certain period of time. Already, we’ve noted one lawsuit against Apple by someone who felt compelled to buy an iPod to listen to his music. While that lawsuit may be a tough case to prove, it’s still odd that none of these music stores are willing to admit that openness tends to drive more users. I’ve never bought a single song from any of them because I don’t want to be trapped in whatever different format they happen to use that will be popular this week. If I keep buying CDs (rarely), at least I know I’ll be able to convert them to MP3s and move them where I want them to go.

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Comments on “Music Download Stores Risk Backlash From Enslaved Users”

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Edward says:

iTunes lock in

I agree, I feel a bit trapped. I have a Powerbook and it is entirely too tempting to click on the iTunes icon in the dock and see whats new in the store. I now have about 340 tracks purchased, but I feel restricted. I can play them back on the Powerbook and share them with iTunes on my PC provided I authorise it first, but I can’t play them on my Rio Karma. or MP3 CD Player.
I also have to make sure I always keep a backup, as iTunes would not let me redownload any tracks should my hard disk crash or get stolen.
My access to the music is dependant on some Apples internet server continuing to exist and be active to authorise my machines. This affectively means I am only licensing the right to listen to the content and not owning it. In such a case I ought to have the benefit of the server to retrieve any content I have licensed onto any machine. Apple already keeps a detailed log of everything I have purchased so it wouldn’t be too difficult to implement.
I’ve decided to buy an iPod Shuffle so I can at least take some of it with me at a time.
I think I prefer the Napster subscripion model, at least the licensing is explicit and I can listen to, but not own, as much music as I like, and access my Napster account and content from any machine.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Am I missing something?

What I don’t understand is why people don’t simply burn every 10-12 tracks to an audio CD and then, if necessary, re-rip it to whatever non-DRM format you want?

If you’re such an audiophile that you can’t stand the thought of transcoding your audio files one time, maybe you should be out buying the Super-Audio CD or whatever the latest DRM-happy audiophile media du-jour is…

Edward says:

Re: Am I missing something?

Well it’s not really the transcoding that bothers me, it’s more the hastle and waste of perfectly good CDRs.
If you burn to a CD and re-rip you will lose all the metadata stored in the ID3 tags and the album art stored in the AACs.
I would need to burn, re-rip and then spend a lot of time copying all the information out of the restricted files into the new ones. If iTunes would burn CD-TEXT data to the disk and use it when you rip in the absence of CDDB data that would make the process a lot easier.
Audio CDRs are no good as an archival medium, a lot of them only last about a year, or less if they get hot/scratched/damaged. For backup I’ve invested in an Iomega REV drive that says the disks have a useful life of over 10 years, so I’d rather keep the data in its original compressed form with all the associated information still intact.
If ITMS wants me to believe I am buying music rather then licensing it, they should not make my use of it dependant on the continuing existance of their server or Apple products.

If I am in fact only licensing the right to listen to it they should not make it my responsibility to keep the original data backed up, but should give me unrestricted access to any content I have bought a license for.
I feel they are trying to have it both ways.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Music downloading has lost at least 3 customers I know of due to DRM woes.

Plus I won’t even look at music downloading because of the DRM.

Surely if 4/4 people I know who are music geeks won’t use DRM’ed music, then there’s plenty of business out there being lost.

…Or are these sites just appealing to the lower common denominator (AOL users etc who know no better)?

Jelly Roll says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Thanks for the musicbrainz tip, Jamie. Great site. I think the point that the earlier posters are trying to make is that music download sites IMPAIR their files unnecessarily. When someone demonstrates his willingness to pay for music, he should then be entrusted with full ownership of the file, and all that that implies.

Jamie (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

And my point is right now we have “free” reign of our CD’s, but that will not last long. Soon they will be copy protected and yes there will probably be ways around it, but that means people will have to do extra to have free reign of their music they “own”. Sound familiar? Doing extra work to be able to do whatever with music. Sounds familiar. All I am saying is that people are over reacting. It’s not that much extra work to put the songs on a CD, rip them, re-tag them, and put them somewhere safe in a format that is fully-compatible.

You think when they make copy protected CD’s, you are going to put them on every type of portable music player?

Freedom Fred says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No Subject Given

Well, if he insists on calling us all stupid, at least he did it to our faces, sort of. Anyway, my feeling about the whole issue is this – eventually one of the music companies will wise up, and sell its music to the public with absolutely NO compromises. They’ll even included a separate encoded (384kps variable bit rate, I hope) files for you. They’ll do this because they’ll know that anyone who wants to steal music, will. I will send all of my d/l business to that company, rather than generating coasters everytime I add to my music library.

Cantata says:

Re: Re: Re:10 No Subject Given

So sorry, Monty – mail server’s been down since Saturday morning. Your problem is you have the newest version of ITMS, but you still have unDRuM v. 2.03 or earlier. Just update the decryption algo or the whole program, or lock the default to .aac for output (I’d just update the program if I were you.)

Jamie (user link) says:


Man…you can’t really be writing on a tech site and believe that you are “trapped” in a certain music format. I have bought songs from Napster, I have bought songs from iTunes, I have an iPod. Now let me see here, how do I get my Napster wma songs to my iPod. Oh wait…burn them to a CD and then I can rip them.

Also, don’t be so sure that you will be able to rip your CD’s into mp3’s.

So not to say that people who think they are trapped in a music standard are stupid, but do some research about your topicbefore writing about it. I know I have not had any problems puttin my Napster songs on my iPod, but I am smart enough to figure that I can put the songs I purchased on a CD and then put them on my iPod. What was even better was before my iPod, i had a minidisc player. Which none of those services support, but i was able to put my songs on.

Edward says:

Re: Seriously...

So you buy 12 songs on iTunes, put them in a custom playlist and burn them to an Audio CD, and then what? If you put that CDin a computer it will have no idea what tracks they were before your burnt them, no track names, no artist, composer, publishing date, no album art etc, all that information is part of the service you paid for.
So you can rip them back as unnamed MP3 tracks and have to spend 10 minutes copying all the meta data back, and drop your 10p CDR coaster in the trash. Actually my 340 tracks would need roughly 30 CDRs.
It’s stupid to have to waste actual physical resources and time to get around an arbitrary electronic restriction.

Jamie (user link) says:

Re: Re: Seriously...

I have one solution to your problem. Stop buying songs from them. If you are that dissatisfied, just stop buying instead of crying. I deal with people like you at school all the time. They cry because they do not like an instructor. Instead of doing something about it, they waste their time crying.

Also, there are programs out there that will automatically tag your songs. is one. Check it out and let me know what you think. Drag and drop your files and the rest gets done for you. The service is not perfect, but it does not take me over 10 minutes to retag my songs.

Here is another issue, if you have the songs on MP3, why would you play them on CD? I know when I burn my songs to a CD it is to play in my car or somewhere else. Who needs the “album art”, if I am playing my music on my computer, i’ll play the song that is already on my computer. And don’t give me multiple computers as an excuse, I have all mine linked up, 2 Windows and 1 Linux and they all share the same music from the same external hard drive.

Lastly, I do not understand much about what anyone is saying. If you have an iPod, you buy your music from iTunes, you have something else you use Napster/Wal-Mart/fill-in. It is not that difficult of a decision, you do not go to a Windows machine and try to install Gnome. You do not go to a Linux machine and try to install Office 2003. If you want those options to work you need to add some extra software and do some extra work. Just as you have to with different music services.

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