Apple wants to kill your mixtape.

Buying music used to be much easier.

You heard a song on the radio and if you liked it you could buy 78rpm record for the Victrola.

Later, the 45 rpm 7″ single. Or LP, cassette, or 8-track. With the 8-track or cassette, you could even make a “mixtape” of songs that you like. Or to give as a lovingly-curated-snapshot-of -your-musical-taste gift. The powerful music trade industries were not pleased, and convinced many that “home recording is killing music.”

Later still DAT, DCC, MiniDisc, and CD came along as formats. These were a little different, said the RIAA, as now perfect copies, right down to the bits of data, could be made on consumer equipment. RIAA flexed its muscle and passed legislation that both made it difficult to do so and placed a tax on blank items to make up for the certain piracy that was to occur. Paranoia was so great that the manufacturers even hobbled their machines to comply.

When you buy that song you heard on the radio [or internet radio, or satellite radio, or ? today] through online, the retailers are tightly managing the rights of the material purchased. Those songs can be burned to CD in certain configurations a limited number of times, and cannot be shared digitally with others without hacking the DRM “lock” on them. You may not be able to play them on your portable player!

iTunes is not the only one doing this. Napster [in its current, legal incarnation], Rhapsody, and others do the same.

Music fans are bummed by what they perceive to be a situation that views them as criminals the moment they become paying customers. They are not the only ones. France and Germany have recently stood up to the iTunes/iPod hegemony to voice their concerns.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Some music companies are seeing the writing on the wall and instead of considering consumers criminals from the start, they are trusting them by offering song downloads for sale that are not bound with tons of restrictions. The NY Times had a story about it, even. I can make mixCDs, put them on my portable players, or listen to them with any computer.


2 thoughts on “Apple wants to kill your mixtape.

  1. Didja read Jobs’ recent commentary on DRM?

    While I think Jobs is disingenuous on the benefits Apple gets from the sole portable interoperability between ipods and FairPlay DRM – and exaggerates the problems imposed interoperability would cause – his point that it is the major labels which imposed DRM as a requirement of digital sales is accurate and germane.

    And by stating flatly that Apple would be happy to distribute music without DRM if the major labels would be willing to allow it, Jobs has certainly drawn a line in the sand on the issue.

    The rational response to all this is to eliminate DRM, because it simply doesn’t work. Apple’s DRM is trivial to break. A fair response, if the charade of DRM must be sustained, would be for the major labels to agree to a single interoperable standard. Is it really reasonable to make iPods – or any other player, for that matter – support every flavor of DRM there is, nor to make every digital music retailer supply music with DRM to fit every type of player.

    In short, Apple is not “the” problem – and the legal actions being considered by some in the European community are not a real solution. It’s time for the major labels to accept that DRM is not a solution and give it up

  2. Proprietary formatics are nothing new, however. Look to the video game world, for example.

    Functional & fluid interopreable standards , OTOH, would be a new thing.

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