Recently I told you about the new iTunes Plus service that allows users to download protection-free (DRM-free) music selections from the iTunes store for a slightly higher price than standard music downloads. With DRM-free music downloads, sound is said to be of higher quality with less interference noise.
DRM-free music can also be loaded onto other devices to play the the tracks, and the music can also be illegally shared over peer to peer networks. It was recently discovered, however, that these DRM-free tracks contain unencrypted details of the person originally purchasing the download, namely their name and e-mail address.
Apple wasn’t forthcoming about this little detail inherent in the protection-free tracks on its iTunes Plus service, and that has come back to hurt the company, known for being user friendly, with negative publicity.
I am guessing here, that the personal information attached to the tracks are purely so that the music industry could in fact track down any copyright infringers who are illegally sharing or downloading the music.
Assuming that you don’t plan on illegally sharing any music, you might not worry too much about having your information on your downloaded track. But think of this; what if a your music were snatched off of your computer and then distributed? It is not a far-fetched scenario, as analysts estimate that at least 10 percent of all computers currently have spy bot software on their systems that could be directed to easily swipe iTunes files.
Have you ever loaned out your iPod or let someone else use your computer? What if another user decides to share your files with a friend?
It also doesn’t see, like there are any integrity checks on the data. So, someone could develop a program, let’s say, that automatically changes the name and e-mail address to anything they want it to be, thereby making it useless as an enforcement against copyright infringers.
What do you think? Should Apple remove this feature? Should they inform iTunes Plus users that their name and address will be attached to their music?
Mary Ann Romans also writes for the Frugal Living Blog here at Families.com, where she shares money saving tips for today’s families.