It’s easy, it’s fair and it’s legal?
28 April 2003
Apple has released a new version of its iTunes music player and cd burning software, which now includes an integrated "Music Store" where users can buy and download songs for 99 cents each. Now, of course I'm interested whenever new developments threaten to change how we make, promote, distribute and consume music. But I approach such developments cautiously when big record companies are involved, as they are in this case. I've been disappointed again and again by how groups like the RIAA (as well as certain [formerly?-]big-name-stars, like Metallica) blindly cling to outmoded notions of authorship and intellectual property as they assert what seem to me to be almost embarrassingly self-serving agendas -- such as, for example, when they've fought to control and/or monetize peer to peer file sharing over the internet.
Which is why I hesitate to openly accept Apple's claim that buying and downloading music through their Music Store is "fair." How are the record companies involved, exactly? And the artists? In apple.com's words, "The iTunes Music Store is fast and convenient for you, and fair to the artists and record companies. In a nutshell, you can play your music on up to three computers, enjoy unlimited synching with your iPods, burn unlimited CDs of individual songs, and burn unchanged playlists up to 10 times each."
So. 99 cents per song, plus some strings attached ("up to three computers", "up to 10 times each"). Where does each cent go? What's Apple's share, I wonder? And can new, unsigned artists sell music at the Music Store, by-passing the record companies? So many questions...
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