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Apple mum on DRM-free music privacy issues

updated 03:45 pm EDT, Sat June 2, 2007

DRM-free music privacy

Apple has declined to comment on why it stores users' names and emails in its DRM-free music offered through iTunes. Earlier this week, the company officially launched its higher quality, DRM-free music with the release of iTunes 7.2, which brought a few growing pains. EMI's historic agreement with Apple removes any copyright protection on music, allowing users to playback music on virtually any device if they purchase the the more expensive DRM-free version of the song. However, now privacy advocates are beginning to question Apple's move to include the information with each song. Unlike competing services such as eMusic which offer DRM-free music without any strings attached, several sites reported that Apple embedded personal information such as a user's name and email.

While Apple's has drawn criticism for the watermarking itself, privacy advocates argue that the information should be encrypted to protect individuals.

"There's absolutely no reason that it had to be embedded, unencrypted and in the clear," said Fred von Lohmann, a senior intellectual property attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Wired. "Some of the privacy problems, in light of this, is that anyone who steals an iPod that includes purchased iTunes music will now have the name and e-mail address of its rightful owner."

von Lohmann suggests that Apple encrypt the information to protect privacy without compromising the forensic value and also expected to see tools to automatically "anonymize" music with Apple's CEO name and email.

While many have criticized the watermarking of files, some analysts argue that watermarking is "certainly better than digital rights management, according to CNET News.com.

"Watermarking does not treat the consumer like a criminal," an analyst with Yankee Group Research said. "DRM is also restrictive, telling you how many times you can play a song or which device it can be played on. Watermarking works on the assumption that a consumer is innocent but provides the industry an opportunity to catch someone that breaks the law."




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. adrian_milliner

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    what's the problem?

    Having your name in your files is no different from laser etching your postcode on your mountain bike or iPod or sewing your name in your school uniform, or ....

    It's yours. It belongs to you.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Don't see the problem

    I do not see the problem. The only people who would worry about this is those who would buy iTunes music and illegally upload it to Limewire or some other such service. If you plan on using the music for personal use, there should be no concern. I also suspect that Apple used that measure to entice EMI.

  1. Treuf

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    price

    What concerns me here is not that my name is there, I don't care much and anyway it can be removed (but why ??)

    The issue I see is that those songs are more expensive - without much valid reason imho.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: price

    Then you certainly don't have to buy them.

    Period. End of discussion. Done. Concerns addressed. It's over. Thanks for coming.

  1. adrian_milliner

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    re: price

    double the bit-rate, if you need any reason at all.

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    OMG!

    Someone steals your iPod and they'll have your email address! You know what that means? They can spam you! There isn't any other way in the world someone can get your email address, and now Apple riddles their music with all these privacy leakages. Its just embarrassing.

    In fact, I've discovered (yes, all by myself) another horrid security hole that's apparently been unpatched for years. Did you know the iPod has a calendar and address book within it that has any of this information! While most crooks will of course spend their time parsing up music files to find email addresses, one or two might think of getting information from here.

    And, believe it or not, everytime you send out an email, your email account name gets sent out too! Its true! And its not even encrypted! Man, is there anything Apple can't leave a big security hole in?

    What's almost as embarrassing is treuf not realizing that, since the files are twice as large, someone has to pay the bill for the expanded bandwidth usage these downloads entail.

    On top of that, have you ever noticed that, when shopping for CDs or DVDs, that they sell multiple different versions of the same CD or movie? You can spend $8 on some version of a CD, or maybe $12 for the 'remastered' version. Or a DVD may cost $10, but the new "Special Edition" costs $20. What's the difference? One offers the purchaser more for their money. Same with the non-DRM music. Its supposedly a better quality recording and also DRM free.

    I guess it comes down to simple economics. You charge more for what the people want (which is the same theory as to why the labels want to charge more for new music).

  1. russellb

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    privacy

    RE: "Some of the privacy problems, in light of this, is that anyone who steals an iPod that includes purchased iTunes music will now have the name and e-mail address of its rightful owner."

    God I hate people who flaunt privacy concerns without having a brain.

    Gee most electronic devices these days have somewhere to put the owners name .. what If someone steals my briefcase that has my business card in the little clear window ... maybe I should encrypt my busness card.

    Give me a break ... most sensible people who buy DRM free and who buy it for personal use should have no problem that apple put your name and email on your music ... after all it's your own and your not mena to be passing it around so who cares

  1. Graybaby

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    DRM iTunes purchases

    Surely the same iTunes we've been buying for years also has some sort of identifiable user data, or else, how does the DRM work?

    It's truly amazing the things people will waste time caring about.

    Enjoy.................G

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Records are rising...

    ...in value now - 1984 is almost (finally) here...

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Keep your files private

    There you go, don't share the music and you won't have privacy concerns.

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