Wed, Jan 14th 2009 8:32am
Apple got a lot of press last week when it announced that it was going to remove the DRM from songs it sold through the iTunes Music Store. That's a great thing in itself, since it removes the barriers legitimate customers faced in playing back music they purchased on the device of their choice. But details are coming out, and it's not all good news: the songs are watermarked (via Slashdot) with the email address of the iTunes account used to purchase them. This is certainly better than DRM, but it's still not great. The biggest issue is that it links files to a particular consumer -- which will likely lead to the RIAA using the watermarks to attempt to "prove" that people actively shared songs and sue them. It seems inevitable that the label cartel will attempt to use the marks to inflict liability on users if music bearing their email address appears online. Which is great, until a person's iPod gets stolen and the music ripped from it, or a friend grabs music off of somebody's hard drive without their knowledge. The RIAA's legal strategy has been based on flimsy evidence; removing the DRM but adding watermarks simply gives them another way to "prove" people shared music they purchased online, even though the marks won't actually prove anything.
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