DRM-Free iTunes Plus Launched; No Need to Cheer too Loudly

The wait is FINALLY over! Yes, yet another glorious day of innovation has come to pass in the scintillatingly exciting world of online music sales. Last week, Apple’s iTunes shop began offering higher quality files unencumbered by nasty DRM nonsense -- as we reported a little while back. Of course, the files are nearly a third more expensive than the regular, low-quality shit you can get from iTunes, and out of all your favorite caring, cuddly major labels, only EMI (at least for now)is making its catalog available in the new format. But still, great news, eh?

Not really. Apparently, the whole business of Joe Schmoe from Idaho actually getting his calloused hands on high-quality versions of the entire Norah Jones catalog and other gems from the EMI vaults is sort of fiddly and crap. First of all, you have to update your iTunes to the latest version, then opt-in to the iTunes Plus service from a separate area of the site that’s not particularly easy to find -- it’s not set as the default in the iTunes store. Switching back to normal iTunes means further grubbing about with Apple’s (beautifully presented) digital entrails.

Furthermore, and more importantly, the DRM-free banner that Apple and EMI have pinned above their king-sized conjugal bed is looking a little tatty tonight. An interesting little tidbit I just found out is that every track that’s downloaded from iTunes has your full name and e-mail address embedded in the file. And the new DRM-free stuff does as well. Sort of puts you off sharing that precious $1.29 worth of file with your chums, eh? And what about all the information that’s kept on your iTunes account, like your credit card number and where you fucking LIVE? If your file ends up on some torrent site and a brave RIAA freedom fighter picks up your e-mail address and name from an iTunes file -- is he then in a position to grab all that other info prior to chasing your ass down the street?

Oh well, whatever. It’s not as if anyone who does upload a torrent to the web gets the files from iTunes anyway. Fact remains that the attempts of the record industry to curtail file-sharing have all been pretty much a total bust for the last five years, and you can be certain that this latest attempt to scare you into compliance is bound to fail miserably too. And for that, I guess we can all continue quietly rejoicing.