Git yer preloaded iPods on eBay (but are they time bombs?)

Warning: This blog entry substitutes the acronym CRAP where the term DRM might normally have appeared. (read why).
Written by David Berlind, Inactive

Warning: This blog entry substitutes the acronym CRAP where the term DRM might normally have appeared. (read why).  By way of Slashdot comes an alert to Kevin Maney's piece in USA Today about the legality of selling preloaded iPods.  Wrote Maney:

A 60-gigabyte video iPod loaded with 11,800 songs, with a starting bid of $799. The iPod alone would cost about $400. "I don't see how it's different than selling a used CD," seller Steve Brinn, a Cincinnati pediatrician, wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY. "If the music industry asked me not to do it, I just wouldn't do it." After USA TODAY asked eBay about the listing, eBay removed it. "That is a copyright violation, one that we don't even need to hear from the rights owner about before removing," says eBay spokesman Hani Durzy.

But is it? Why is selling a pre-loaded iPod any different than selling a used CD? It could be.  It probably depends on the seller.  For example, nothing prevents an iTunes user that has purchased 11,000 songs (via the iTunes Music Store) from buying iPods, loading those 11,000 songs into those iPods and then selling them. If the songs are in MP3 format, well, then reselling them is probably a violation of copyright law (depending on whether each song's artist or record label has explicitly allowed that). Before synching with a new iPod, iTunes doesn't force you to return the previously loaded iPod to the "cradle" for de-authorization and bulk-erasure. Apple is pretty much forced into allow synching with multiple iPods because it has no way of knowing whether you've purchased a new one or not (maybe the old one was broken or lost).  But maybe now that a new so-called analog hole to Apple's CRAP has been discovered, the company will figure out a way to update its CRAP.

More importantly, buyers of pre-loaded iPods should beware.  The way the Fairplay-based CRAP technology in Apple's iPods and iTunes works, the retention of that music is tied to the digital identity of the owner (in iTunes' parlance, this is known as an "account").  At the very minimum, if those songs are protected by Apple's CRAP technology, then those songs are trapped in that iPod and can't be played anywhere else (at least not without some special tools that circumvent the CRAP technology -- a process which, according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act anti-circumvention provisions, is illegal).  No matter how you look at it, buying pre-loaded iPods is a bad idea.  And you can thank Apple's CRAP for that.

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