I'm likely to get some smirks for telling the world this, but I download music from Apple iTunes. I know they're not the friendliest of companies when it comes to music downloading, especially since they've long maintained Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes that regulate what you can and cannot do with your paid-for music. I'm not a huge music downloader, though, and so I've never really bothered to look elsewhere, despite my professed uneasiness with DRM.
All that's just a lead-up to tell you that I receive regular emails from iTunes, telling me about new music releases and other pertinent news. The other day, this message arrived in my inbox:
Now you can download music and videos from EMI that are free of DRM rules and restrictions. With iTunes Plus, you can burn the music you download from iTunes to as many CDs as you need, transfer it to as many computers (Mac or PC) as you want, or sync it to as many devices as you like. And because it's encoded in 256 kbps AAC, your iTunes Plus music is virtually indistinguishable from the original recording. Hear it for yourself — you can preview all iTunes Plus songs before purchasing. iTunes Plus music is available now for many EMI artists, such as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Coldplay, and many more. DRM-free EMI music videos are still $1.99 and music tracks are $1.29.I'd been aware of Steve Jobs' mention a few months back of how he thought music should be stripped of its DRM. Needless to say, I was pleased to see some movement on the issue from Apple.
Something strange is happening to property, in other words. We're slowly creating a system in which there are "haves" and "don't quite haves." I'm also troubled by the way in which these companies are beginning to leverage the mere prospect of DRM to extract more money from consumers.
I'm not altogether sure what my solution to the issue would be. I'd be inclined to say get rid of the DRM altogether, though I'm sure that wouldn't sit well with intellectual property producers and distributors. Then again, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.
P.S. If you want a copy of the article to which I linked above, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org