Following article on Wired and The Unofficial Apple Weblog, debate is raging as to whether it is right that Apple incorporates user’s iTunes user name into tracks (specifically, the DRM-free iTunes Plus tunes).
I’ve read dozens of blog posts and web articles today on this subject and one thing that seems absent is a sensible look as to why people might be bothered by this. The label that seems to be being applied those who are concerned about this information being incorporated into tracks is “file-sharer.” But to be honest I don’t think you need to be a file-sharer that’s ready to upload their entire iTunes Plus library to P2P to be concerned that this information could land you in trouble. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider:
- The iTunes user names seem to be incorporated into files as plain text and could be easy to alter. This could mean that someone could change the information on files that they uploaded to P2P and get someone else into trouble (assuming anyone is going to be keeping an eye out for this sort of thing, which I assume the RIAA will …).
- It makes it possible that someone is blamed for file-sharing when they had nothing to do with it (I can think of several scenarios where iTunes Plus files might find their way into the hands of someone who might upload them to a P2P network where the initial purchaser had no idea that this was happening).
All in all, if Apple had wanted to incorporate some kind of tag into iTunes Plus tracks, they should have done a better job than this (although I’m sure that the Apple apologists will correct me here). Plain text user names in files is sloppy to say the least and if they are easy to alter, next to useless when it comes to tracking files. This bad press surrounding iTunes Plus can’t be good for sales, in the short term at any rate. If this is an oversight, Apple needs to correct it quickly. If Apple does intend to keep a “naughty and nice” list of iTunes users, it needs to come out and make this clear.
However, I am left with the feeling that Apple missed the mark here and that people don’t want DRM-free music, but instead want free music.