Unprotecting iTunes vs. Unprotecting Napster

I just read an article on CNet News.com about how Steve Jobs supposedly wrote emails to a bunch of music executives pointing them to a blog entry which explained in easy steps how to turn Napster-protected tunes into unprotected tunes. The purpose of the e-mail was allegedly to show the music industry how unsafe Napster DRM is.

Hey, guess what? Aside from all the hacks people have put together to also un-DRM iTunes Music Store tunes, the method below will always work. Always has, always will:

  1. Purchase album from iTunes Music Store
  2. Burn album to CD
  3. Rip CD to MP3 using iTunes

Your album is now unprotected in less than 5 minutes, you’ve used Apple’s own software with no hacks, and you haven’t done anything illegal. So what’s the big deal? Unprotecting music without first burning to CD is bad, but if you burn to CD first, it’s ok? I don’t get it. I know there is a miniscule loss of quality doing a second transcoding, but most people won’t even notice (hence, the explosion of the MP3 market).

I’m definitely not one of these people who thinks all music should be free, but I do think it’s time to finally start admitting that all DRM is breakable and always will be. One side of me thinks that a combination of “stealing music is wrong” messages, difficult-to-break DRM, and easy-to-purchase legal music is enough to keep the economics of the music industry afloat, but the other side of me thinks that Wilco might be on to something.

62 comments on “Unprotecting iTunes vs. Unprotecting Napster”. Leave your own?
  1. Don says:

    Most people pay for what they use. We don’t go around intentionally breaking laws. They approach it from the perspective that everyone is ripping them off. Good points about the Wilco project. If they embrace what the technology can do for them, then it will be a tool for greater income, instead of focusing on the drain they feel it is causing them because of some percentage of “illegal” useage.

  2. matsimpsk says:

    The difference, of course, is that you have paid for the songs that you download from iTunes, whereas you don’t if you use the Napster To Go trial.

    Still, it seems like an awful lot of loops to jump through just for a couple of free albums.

  3. Aaron says:

    One big issue one this whole thing is the fact that you can unprotect all of the “subscribed” musice from Napster. With iTunes, yes you can unprotect it, but you’ve already paid for that song in particular. Just my take on it anyhow.

  4. Mike D. says:

    mastimpsk and Aaron: Good points regarding the subscribe vs. buy thing. Doesn’t Napster also offer a download-to-purchase option as well though?

    I think you are both right in that “cracking” subscribed music as opposed to purchased music is probably a bit worse, but hey, it’s still cracking however you slice it.

    I also wonder about the validity of the alleged e-mails from Jobs. They have apparently been confirmed by some music executives, but it really seems a bit beneath Steve to do that, don’t you think?

  5. You forgot to mention Hymn, which allows you to strip the DRM without having to first make a CD. The only reason I’ve ever purchases anything from iTMS is because there is something like Hymn out there. That way, I know that I can un-DRM all my purchased tunes if need be should I want to use something besides iTunes and Win/Mac.

  6. Simply because something illegal is easy to do doesn’t mean it’s less illegal, only that lawmakers and dependent business owners are going to have a hard time.

  7. Jeff Croft says:

    Well, someone beat me to the point, but I was going to say this:

    In order to obtain a song from iTunes, you must pay $0.99 for it. If you then un-DRM it, you at least have paid for it first. So, to un-DRM 1000 songs would cost you $999.

    On the other hand, Napster is $15 per month (and free for the trial) for unlimited downloads. You pay your $15 and then you download 1000 songs — un-DRMing them cost you only $15. Effectively, you’ve “stolen” 885 songs.

    Granted, both scenarios are illegal, but in the case of iTunes, we’re talking about small potatoes. We’re talking about stripping a very lose, unrestrictive DRM from a song after you’ve paid for it. In the case of Napster, we’re talking about stripping a very tight, restrictive DRM from a song you didn’t pay for. It is for this reason that I imagine the record companies will have a bigger concern with the Napster problem than with the iTunes, even though they are both technically “illegal.”

    While I also doubt the validity of the claim the note was from Jobs, this is definitely a win for Apple in the record companies’ eyes. If, as you say, DRM is breakable and always will be, then it will be impearative to the labels that music is paid for before it is downloaded in any form.

    And to answer your question — yes, you can pay an additional $0.99 to Napster (on top of your $15/mo fee) to be able to burn your song to CD. But, these is not really relevant. The finles that were being un-DRMed were non-burnable, $15/mo-only files.

  8. Mike D. says:

    Jeff: Good points. So if Jobs were to be listened to, there would be no subscription model for music, ever. You pay to own and that’s that.

    The problem with this thinking, in my mind, is that there are so many examples of other models out there which people are already using. There is the Rhapsody/Napster paid subscription model. There is the XM/Sirius paid subscription model. There is IP-based internet radio. Whenever you send bits down the line, those bits can always be captured, saved, and un-DRMed if necessary. Heck, WireTap for OS X just captures the sound directly through the audio channel on your Mac… no hacking necessary. I understand that what makes this Napster case so bad is the on-demand nature of the music available, but what happens when you have 2000 channels of satellite radio or IP-based radio to choose from? Anything played on these channels can be automatically captured, saved, and shared, so the “problem” just becomes bigger as more music becomes available.

  9. Mike S says:

    The problem with using utilities like WireTap is that you don’t really get the complete song. This is especially obvious when you’re trying to steal from radio.

    When you finally realize that the song you want to copy is on you have to launch the program and hit record. By then you’ve missed at least the first 10 seconds of the song. Once you’re recording you have to hope to hell that your computer doesn’t give you an alert sound or any other sound for that matter.

    The major kick in the pants is when you get those really bad DJ’s cutting into the song. From then on when you want to listen to your stolen radio song you’re constantly reminded that you got it from the radio.

    And from what I’ve heard women aren’t really into guys cruisin’ the streets with a pimped stereo, blasting the latest and greatest song that gets interrupted by some lame-ass internet DJ.

  10. Jeff Croft says:

    Mike S-

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. The women here love those lame-ass internet DJs.


  11. Wilson Miner says:

    So if Jobs were to be listened to, there would be no subscription model for music, ever. You pay to own and that’s that.

    Not necessarily Mike. Clearly, though, Jobs believes that the model his service is built on is superior for both consumers and labels, and he’s very interested in pitching that to both groups as a competitive advantage.

    If he really believes the subscription music model is bunk, he doesn’t care if 100 competitors crop up trying to sell that model, because if he’s right they won’t succeed.

    But since Steve knows that neither the record labels or the majority of consumers can be trusted to do what’s in their own best interest (Cf. every pre-iTMS effort to monetize online music), he’s doing his best to (ahem) illuminate them.

    I think the key distinction here is this: Steve Jobs doesn’t care if you burn CDs, Napster does. When you buy from the iTMS and burn to a CD, that’s great, you paid for the music. When you sign up for the Napster subscription, they expressly do not want you to burn a CD, because you didn’t pay for the music, you’re just renting it. That goes double when you’re on the 14-day trial and haven’t paid them squat.

    Still, the ultimate point that any DRM is ultimately penetrable is made clear in both cases, but probably more so in the Napster hack. Once you have the audio, you can duplicate it (even if it comes down to holding a microphone up to your computer). Then there are the conspiracy-theorists who suspect that Apple has introduced an “audio fingerprint” into each song sold on the iTMS that identifies the original purchaser from within the audio, whether you burn it to a CD or strip the DRM with Hymn. Not sure about holding a Playskool microphone up to your speakers.

  12. My problem is: I don’t see the urge to devote my time and money to iTunes when I’m still downloading my mp3’s from illegal sources. I’m not doing it as much now, but I believe the RIAA has slimmed it’s search down and realized it wasn’t ever going to stop. I believe the publicity on what the RIAA was doing was causing more people to download music. This basically just drove the RIAA and other music industries down the drain.

  13. Micah says:

    If what CNet says is true, Steve Jobs is being way too paranoid. DRM technology will never truly be secure and is pretty much a waste of everyone’s time, effort, and most of all money. I understand completely the point of using such technology, it gives you a sense of security over some intellectual property, if you want to call it that.

    I find the whole digital music revolution to be extremely misleading, and hopefully it will eventually mature into a better system. MP3s, AAC files, and other similar technologies are ultimately incomplete copies of a whole, compressed and condensed versions of a complete product. The mere fact that you can burn an imcomplete version of a song to a CD only to recompress it therein lies a whole further problem… and so I ask what the point of that is? You already start out with a semi-decent version of a song, why would you want to continue to degrade it just so that it loses its DRM protection? Thus, I find the whole “legal” download to be very deceptive when each version each company usually contains it’s own right of ownership and usage.

    If the RIAA wasn’t such a bully, would be open to a restructuring in their business model, and show some sign of competence rather than a huge amount of ignorance, maybe there wouldn’t be such a huge difference in the way we download music for free and purchase songs for a fee. The whole system is corruptly driven by greed and ignorance.

  14. Jeff Croft says:


    I understand what you’re getting at with the compression and DRM complaints, but let’s consider the alternative. If, say, iTunes worked more like this:

    – You pay $2.99 for a song, rather than $0.99.
    – Your uncompressed file is at least 35MB
    – Your 35MB song takes five to ten minutes to download on broadband.
    – An album takes well over an hour to download.
    – You can fit all of 1000 songs on your 40GB iPod (as opposed to 10,000).

    Do you think anyone would use it? To ignore these facts is to ignore user experience. User experience is what makes iTunes/iPod. Apple has made it ridiculous easy and seemingly very cheap (it’s damn easy to keep clicking “buy song” when the thought process is, “hell, it’s only 99 cents”) to get songs that sounds perfect to all by the most dicerning audiophile ears. The songs download in less than a minute, and it takes a fraction of that time to pop them on your iPod and take them with you.

    It’s all about the user expierence. And while uncompressed files would be great, their size would make the user experience poor, and iTunes/iPod would be a lot less popular for it.

    This, by the way, is the reason there’s not currently an “iTunes Movie Store.” There size of video files is just too prohibitive to the user interaction experience.


  15. Micah says:

    Jeff, I hear you loud and clear! I guess the point I was really trying to make is that I believe a flat price of $.99 is basically a ripoff. Yes, from a user experience and convenience factor, $.99 isn’t a lot, but I believe even that is too much for a song given the circumstance that I pointed out.

    I am a huge MP3 fan, love ’em to death and use them in my car, computer, etc all the time. They’re convenient, easy to transfer and useful in so many situations. I must have mislead if you thought I said that people should be downloading uncompressed files because I know how long that would take! So yeah, until the day that a gigabit is the transfer speed is the standard… :)

    I guess I should have completed my thought. I were to buy an artist’s latest album on iTunes, let’s say 15 songs, that would approximately be $15. Yay, I have an album and I didn’t have to go to the store! However, I could go to amazon and pay the same $15 for a much better quality version of the same thing without the instant gratification. When I receive the CD from amazon, I can rip it and create my own version with my own bit rate, without DRM, and do it as many times as I want without having to re-encode or recompress it.

    Unfortunately, we now live in a society of complacency and instant gratification. I like Napter’s idea of $15/month more than I like the idea of $.99/tune, but I believe both systems still have a long way to go before I buy into anything like that.

  16. Jeff Croft says:


    I understand your point and generally would agree with it, but it’s a *bit* flawed in that an album doesn’t cost $15 on iTunes — they cost $9.99 (usually). Still, I see your point and think that the album prices should probably be a bit lower.

    I guess the bottom line is that on iTunes you can buy an individual track for $0.99, which you can’t do on CD. Apple’s put out stats in the past that show that the vast majority of iTunes users are buying songs individually, not in albums. So, if you consider that, then you are getting something for you $0.99, compared to the cost of a CD single, which is usually at least four or five bucks, right?

    As for Napster vs. iTunes — I guess it just depends on what you want to do with your music. If you consider one year: you’ll spend $180 at Napster and be able to download as many songs as you want. however, you can’t burn them to CD or put them on an iPod, and they’ll stop working if you ever cancel Napster. For that same $180 you can buy 180 songs from iTunes and do pretty much whatever you like with it forever.

    I dunno — I just don’t want my music to ever “expire.”

  17. Tommy says:

    Let me come at this from another angle. I am a huge fan of http://www.kcrw.com and more recently Sirius. When I look at the stack of CDs next to me, 18 of my 20 most recent CD purchases were bought only because of KCRW and Sirius. I’d never have heard these bands on commercial radio.

    I sample music from a lot of sources, and if I like it I buy it. It is that simple! I am buying more music because of the Internet, not less.

    When I go hear a local band play, even if I just like their music a little, I buy a CD. People ask me what I am doing and I say, “hey, if you like live music then you need to support these bands or you won’t have live music in a small venue.”

    Personally I use Total Recorder on my PC to “grab” music. Do I feel guilty? Not in the least. The Dead IMHO set the standard. They gave away their music, then made money via their concerts. Wilco and Dave (to name a few) are trying the same model. Music IMHO should be like shareware. Let me download and then after playing a few times or in 10 days let the recording expire.

    Get the product, the music, into as many hands as possible. That should be the goal of record labels.

    There are always going to be people like us that find a way to “steal” music, software, movies, you name it. But the vast majority of the population doesn’t have a clue how to use a program like Total Recorder. The music industry can cry all they want about BitTorrent or other file sharing systems, but most of the people on the Internet don’t use these systems. I work for a “virtual” company. I send out CDs all the time. I get asked, “where did you find this album/group” all the time. When I say I was just doing searches for “trip hip-hop” on Limewire they have no clue what I am talking about.

    Now one comment about Napster. IMHO it is BS. If I pay to download a song I should own it. Their flat rate, download as much as you want, just encourages people to “steal” music.

  18. Tommy says:

    Below is a quote or two from David Crosby. I think it frames this conversation.

    “There’s a lot of cheating and lying and stealing that goes on in any major business. And the music business is no exception at all. …

    I don’t think that there’s much we can do about it. They built their business model in an era when they could make, I don’t know, on a million-selling album, you know, they’re making 10 million bucks or something, and they do eight of those in a year. That’s what they built their business model on. And it seemed reasonable to build huge buildings and hire hundreds of people … and get a corporate jet or two. What a very grandiose idea of how to go about things.

    Now they’re going in the tank, because the world has changed, and they did not change with it. They bit the poison pill, without realizing it, when they went digital. Once a thing is in digital domain, it can be copied as many times as you want. And there is no system that can keep it from being copied. You can devise the most clever one you want, and I will bring some little geek with a pen protector in his pocket into the room and he will fix it in a minute. …

    They bit the poison pill, and it’s killing them. And I think what’s killing them really, is that they have a bad business model that doesn’t coincide with reality. I think the only way to sell records that I know about now that does look really, really, really promising is iTunes. I think Apple is the smartest company in the country, and they are doing something brilliant.

    Why did that work?

    Because it was simple, and it was already existing hardware. And anybody could have done it, but Steve Jobs put it together. It works like a charm. You upload it; they download it. They pay you a buck or two. It’s that simple.”


  19. X says:

    I only just thought of this: shouldn’t the price of a track depend on its length? A song might be 2 mins or 20 mins. Mike Oldfield did an album that was one 60 minute track. Would that cost the same as a single?

    Note: I still haven’t ventured onto the iTunes Music Store, despite installing iTunes recently, so forgive me if I have got it wrong.

    I also agree with anyone who states that they wish to pay for a track once, then own it forever. Napster’s approach is very misleading. How many kids will pay thousands over a few years, then quit Napster and find none of their music works anymore? (I suspect they will then turn to piracy software to unlock it, hence Napster’s model could well be encouraging piracy in the long term.)

    There is a good piece on Napster here:

    Subscription Small Print

    Even Apple aren’t holy though. I read on their site that you can only copy a file to 5 devices (I think). What if you’re on your sixth hardware upgrade?

    As for the future of all this, with broadband and server storage increasing, might CD-quality downloads become a reality? Then what happens?

    I see formats like DVD-audio and SACD as a move to combat this. Ensure that the quality of online music is always behind that of physical formats you can buy in the shops. How do you make a 5.1 surround mp3? :-)

  20. Brian Ford says:

    That should read “copy a file to five devices “at once.” Which means that if you have 5 computers with iTunes protected AAC files on them, and you purchase a fifth computer… you have to deactivate one of the other computers which is really easy to do through the iTunes software.

  21. Tommy says:

    IMHO, as a guy that has done a lot of pricing lately, the more simple you can make it the better. Should Moutain Jam be the same price as a two minutes song? No, but.99 cents is simple. And simple is good.

    “As for the future of all this, with broadband and server storage increasing, might CD-quality downloads become a reality? Then what happens?”

    This is what I want. I want a true integrated media experience.* I want my iBook to play with my TiVo on a wireless network. I want to be able to download a movie/TV show and burn a DVD, or store it on my DVR. I want a mini-mac like computer as the center of my A/V unit so I can control my user experience 24/7.

    *Yes I know I can hack my h/w and s/w to get a lot of this stuff …

  22. John Dowdell says:

    Main point, re: “I’m definitely not one of these people who thinks all music should be free” The label “music” here seems like it means “prerecorded music”, and copying costs are minimal here. But “music” also means the live experience, responding to the environment and the audience, and this can only be approximated by recordings. This is demonstrably not “free” to produce, day after day, tune after tune, until the musician finally croaks. Copying recordings is an ethical/sustainability issue, but high-fidelity copying of live music is a physical impossibility, oui?

    Minor point, re: “the method below will always work. “ You can cut out the ripping stage by buying a CD, so where does that leave Amazon…? ;-)

  23. Bill Gaites says:

    The difference between iTunes and Napster is that Napster gives you 1,000,000 free MP3s during your 14 day free trial. iTunes gives you nothing for free except for their temporary free samples.

    Using Napster, WinAmp and some hacks:

    Using the WinAmp Hack, you can run as many instances of WinAmp as your computer’s CPU allows. For example, one user using a fast Athlon CPU was able to run 32 instances of WinAmp on his PC.

    There is a further hack to WinAmp which allows you to convert the Napster protected song files DIRECTLY into unprotected MP3s.

    On a single PC, then, 32instances of WinAmp allows you to download and convert to MP3 11,500 songs a day from Napster.

    This means you can get 161,000 songs during the free 14 day trial from Napster, which you can convert into 161,000 free MP3s that you can keep forever.

    This means you can download all 1,000,000 songs in Napster’s library and convert them all into free MP3s in only 87 days. You need only a 3 month subscription to Napster to convert their entire library into free MP3s to keep forever.

    If SEVEN college students collaborate (using SEVEN PCs), then within the 14 day free Napster trial, they can download and convert all 1,000,000 songs in Napster’s Library. Thus these SEVEN college students can have 1,000,000 free MP3s to keep forever.

    These college students are then free to share all 1,000,000 songs with anyone else!

    This hack is thus HUGE BIG GIGANTIC NEWS!

    (Editor’s Note: YOWCH! That’s a lotta piracy! So I guess the only real difference, as others have said, in the amount of protection the iTunes model gives you in comparison to the Napster model, is in sheer quantity of songs. Theft, in the end though, is theft.)

  24. Tommy says:

    Bill, that hack might work. But it sucks! Have I downloaded a song or program that I didn’t pay for? Yes, of course. But wholesale stealing of content is wrong, very wrong. Napster may have a “strange” business model, but you have to agree to it.

  25. Deek says:

    I say GOOD. I’m glad people are cracking DRM. The industry must be taught THE lesson that they seem so reluctant to learn – DRM will not be tolerated. Renting music will not be tolerated.

    I swear, the first online music shop with as large a library as iTunes or Napster that does NOT have DRM on thier files will clean up in the marketplace regardless of whether they do a subscription or a pay-per-song model.

    I want investment protection. I don’t want to be tied to proprietary hardware, software or a format, people will flock to a service like that and will gladly pay for it – including me.

    If the record industry continues to be greedy – these cat and mouse wars will continue forever and in the end novbody will win.

  26. GaryV says:

    The process of turning iTunes AAC to PCM (when you burn a disc) and then re-encoding with another compression scheme, in this case mp3 degrades the quality of the music. While this may still bother some studios they know it is no longer “CD” quality and are probably OK with it.

    BTW I am not defending the practice of using DRMs and other security mechanisms, which are a pin in the you know where, but at the end of the day the composer/musician should get paid. Even if we get rid of the so-called middle men it would be naive of us to hope that music will become free.

  27. anon says:

    i think this discussion is missing the point. The real point is that the expectations have changed, and the music distributors have not figured out how to meet consumer expectations. When my standard of music was my record player, the idea of being able to take a “record” in the car with me on a CD was revolutionary, and I was willing to pay 15 bucks to have the 10 songs that could be played both in my house and in my car. Today, I have several devices that allow me to take thousands of songs with me everywhere. The idea of paying a dollar a song, when I know that I have the ability to carry around 5000 of them makes no sense, since I am not going to pay $5000 for it. When I feel like I am getting ripped off, I have fewer qualms about circumventing the rules.

    Ultimately, I expect that the right answer is something like napster to go, where there is no need to download anything (except to your portable player if you want it). You just pay a flat fee to subscribe to a database, and can access it at any time. In some cases, the databases will be small, and will be priced accordingly (one band? ) in others they will be aggregators who promote collections and divide up the money with the artists inthe collection. a couple hundred bucks a year to hear all the music I want sounds about right, given the new expectations (and the fact that I pay a similar amount to watch all the TV that I want with Cable and Tivo..)

  28. Tommy says:

    But I want to own my music after I cancel my subscription to a specific service like Napster. You may not, then you should be able to pay a lower fee.

    I want options. If I want to purchase a song, tv show, et al I should be able to. But if I would perfer to have “something like napster to go” I should be able to do that as well. Just give me some options. If the record companies themselves don’t give me options, I’ll look elsewhere. And that isn’t good for said record companies.

    I started expericing w/ Podcasting over the past several weeks. IMHO Podcasting is going to change everything. And yet again, the record labels are going to be behind the learning curve. http://www.kcrw.com is a NPR station I listen to 24/7 via their Internet feed. Heck, they are in LA and I am in St. Louis, but I give them $100 twice a year.

    They only Podcast their local talk shows, not music, because of copyright issues. This makes no sense. I have bought maybe 20 plus CDs in the last several months because of stuff I heard on KCRW. Music I would have never heard if it wasn’t for this station. What are record companies thinking? Ok, I am off track here … but I can’t believe a few record labels have not embraced technology. How long before a popular Podcast, developed in a living room, gets sued by Sony?

  29. Ruben says:

    I find Bill Gates approach rather challenging but at least he’s obviously a team player. He would set up a team of 7 students in no time.
    Napster should be clearer with its customers at advising that Napster to go is a rental service only, I bet half of the subscribers don’t know it, but i don’t think that justifies to hack their complete collection.
    The record industry should cope on and invest time and money in developing creative ways to manage the music distribution channels. Artists have a lot to say, i’m sure there’d be many starting bands deligthed to have their music distributed to the public for free.

  30. SunPass says:

    A couple of thoughts.

    Why do you want to own your music? Are you going to leave your music collection to your grandchildren? My point is that your music collection is basically temporary to begin with. How many of your great grandparents 78 rpm records do you listen too? exactly. Your great grandchildren won’t want anything to do with a CD or most likely your Moby b-side tracks.

    There is no reason to own music if it is basically all available on demand anyway. How do you watch TV? Do you feel like you need to own every available episode of Desperate Housewives? Do you want to pay 99 cents an episode and own everything you watch? Isn’t it easier, cheaper and more convenient to just pay a cable subsciption. If you really need something you can record what you want? Guess what… I record TV on my cable companies DVR, If I switch to Satellite, they will come and take my DVR with everything I recorded on it. I wouldn’t care of course because the same content is also on Satellite. My point is that people use subscription services all the time with movies… Are you upset when you have to return a movie or video game back to BlockBuster? Do you think you should own every movie you rent? Couldn’t you illegally record every movie you rent? Of course, people do, but nobody cares. People were probably paying BlockBuster about 14.95 a month no matter how they charged them. Most people probably were buying about a CD a month, so that’s why Napsters subscription price is also fair.

    Do you think that paying HBO a monthly fee is stupid? Do you think that you should own the content that you watch? Do you think that they should stop offering HBO and just sell the Sopranos at Best Buy?

    People pay the cable company a monthly fee and watch whatever they want. People pay Napster a monthly fee and listen to whatever they want. People pay XM and Sirius a monthly fee and listen to whatever they want. If you stopped paying any of these monthly fees, you would not own any of the content. Why would Napster be any different. Why would you want it to be any different? Pay a fair monthly fee, listen to content on demand. (Even better than cable or satellite monthly service.) If you dump Napster and go with some other subscription service, they are going to have the same content.

    When I was in high school I would buy a CD or 2 every month. That’s all I could afford. Now, for the same price, I can get anything I want on demand. I can’t imagine having a need to actually own all of this content. It’s just to much content to actually want to pay for and own. I don’t need to own everything I hear. This is an outdated concept. People talk about the music companies not changing with technology but these same people are not changing their concepts with the technology. We are able to get so much more content on demand these days. People still act like they are going to Disc Jockey and buying a tape. They are not, they are downloading or streaming music. It’s really more like listening to the radio on demand rather than purchasing a cassette. There is no need to buy and own specific music anymore. That is the past… Let someone else store the content… It is not going anywhere… It will be there when you want to listen to it. Whether it Napster or Newster or Futurester, the music will be there.

    My Scritti Politti cassette was stolen, I bought another one and it was ruined from old age. Napster has this and other Scritti Politti music I did not even know about. I guess there was no real reason to own it in the first place. It is obviously in better hands with Napster sitting in their database then owned by me and rotting on a shelf. (I don’t think I really even like Scritti Politti any more anyway.)

    If you pay 9.95* a month to Napster, you can listen to all the music you want. If something better comes along and you quit Napster what would you lose? You are quiting Napster because something is better. This would mean that the new service has even more music, is cheaper, more compatible,…ect. You wouldn’t lose anything, a new service would still have all your music on it.

    *(You can pay 9.95 a Month for Napster (without TO GO feature. Also Napster gives Military users over 10% off. (That’s patriotic.))

    Who wants to own a million songs? If you won a million dollars, you would spend it all on songs? Let Napster own and store the songs on their disk space. Just listen to them whenever you want, seems simple to me.

    Burning CD’s is so 90’s.

    If you download a million songs on Napster in 3 months, Napster WILL notice and come get you. Why would you anyway… you really need all those Sun Ra tracks?

    A 25 minute song and a 25 second segue both costs 99 cents? That’s fair.

    Maybe the best and least talked about way to steal music is to simply steal someone’s iPod. 10,000 hand selected songs for free and it only takes a second.

    By the way…If someone steals your iPod, could you claim a $10,000 dollar loss to your insurance?

    If you got caught stealing a fully loaded iPod, is that Grand Theft? Are you looking at jail time?

    A 60 GB iPod holds 15,000 songs. Who is spending $15,000 dollars on music? You can listen to the same music for $14,95 a month. (Like I said, if something better comes along it will have the same music available that you would lose if you drop Napster.)

    If you spend $15,000 using iTunes, Apple should send you another iPod for free. I mean, wouldn’t that just make sense. A small investment from Apple to get you started on another $15,000 investment with them.

    I understand the reasoning for the smaller file formats for instant access and pleasure. However, for the purposes of burning a song to CD, shouldn’t you at least have the option of downloading it in wav format. It wouldn’t take THAT long to download these days and it’s only staying on your PC for a limited time until you Burn it. You end up with a CD that’s CD quality. You still would get the other smaller format for portability and storage.

    In the future you will be able to access over 10 Million Napster songs from your computer, cell phone, portable player, car stereo, Cerebrum inplant, ect…

    In the past, a musician would be brought before a King to entertain him. If he was bad, the King would have him killed. Now, the entertainers are far richer than Kings. ( a bit off topic… sorry.)

    A musician these days doesn’t HAVE to pay someone to distribute their music. Plus, they can keep the rights to their music. Remember that when the music companies complain that musicians should be paid. They are the one’s taking the lion’s share of the profit. They are the one’s who most often end up owning the rights and ownership of the music. They are the one’s who get the future earnings of a song. Who is really ripping off the musicians? Just ask Tony Braxton. Number one album…. bankrupt the next year… ouch.

  31. Chris Hester says:

    “If you pay 9.95 a month to Napster, you can listen to all the music you want. If something better comes along and you quit Napster what would you lose?”

    Absolutely everything. Your music would all stop working.

    “For the purposes of burning a song to CD, shouldn’t you at least have the option of downloading it in wav format.”

    Or better still, Apple Lossless. I’m glad they’ve made the format open to other companies now. Definitely a step forward. (The MP3 format is apparently around 10 years old!) (A shame hardly anyone supports Ogg Vorbis files either.)

  32. SunPass says:

    “If something better comes along and you quit Napster what would you lose?”

    “something better comes along” “something better”

    If it was better, I am sure it would have the same music you are “losing” and more.

    You would “lose” your Napster music and then “gain” the music right back with the new service. Because it’s better. Otherwise, you wouldn’t leave Napster.

    If you want to “own” your music in a non compressed format, then keep buying CD’s at Wal-mart. You are obviously not ready for the new “on demand” way of thinking. I’ll bet your grand children will never have to store any of their music. They will simply connect and listen to whatever they want, whenever they want, for one low monthly fee. The thinking these days is still old… You still think you have to own everything you listen to and keep it stored safely in your house. I already demonstrated that it is much safer in the database. It’s there and it isn’t going anywhere so just relax and enjoy.

    By the way, all you apple heads hate subscription services because Apple doesn’t offer it. I would bet that Apple will eventually get it and offer a subsciption based program. Then suddenly all the apple heads will LOVE subscription services and probably claim that Apple invented it. I love that you guys are so loyal but why can’t you admit it when something other than the Apple way is better.

    I pay 9.95 a month and listen to whatever I want, whenever I want. My Apple buddy in the next office pays way more than 9.95 a month for the music he buys. Plus he listens to 30 second clips all day. Annoying….
    What will happen if a band comes along and makes all of their songs only 30 seconds long? Apple would be sharing the whole songs for free. ahhhh.

  33. SunPass says:

    “For the purposes of burning a song to CD, shouldn’t you at least have the option of downloading it in wav format.”

    “For the purposes of burning a song to CD”

    “burning a song to CD”

    Good luck dropping your Apple lossless file onto a CD without having to convert it.

    McDonalds is now offering lossless Bic Macs… They absolutely taste exactly the same. They have the same amount of ingrediants. They just step on them before they put them in the bag… to make them physically smaller.
    Wouldn’t you rather have the regular sized Bic Mac. You can just eat right out of the wrapper without trying to fluff it back up.

  34. Chris Hester says:

    I don’t want to knock your arguments, SunPass, I think they are valid and well argued. However, I feel there will always be two modes people will operate in. These echo the way DVDs and VHS tapes are utilised. On the one hand, some people will opt for renting them, as it fits the volume of discs/tapes they get through. For them, it’ll always be cheaper to rent, plus they do not wish to own any titles.

    On the other hand, people will continue to buy DVDs, slowly building up a collection of ‘must-have’ titles. They would never wish to part with these, so renting them is not considered an option.

    And so with music files. Just because you perceive Napster’s rental method to be the best, it does not mean that people who choose the old method of downloading full tracks once are wrong.

    What happens if your online database is unavailable? If the net goes down? Or your computer breaks? With an iPod or a CD, that doesn’t matter.

    Myself, I really do prefer to own my tracks. I can then do what I want with them. I have traditionally bought CDs, which have cost me a lot, but now I have the music in its highest fidelity. (Well, until higher-definition CDs came out.) I also have the covers, the artwork, the lyrics, the photos etc that come with each CD.

    Now, for a long time, I’ve bought these off the net, at a cheaper price than in the shops. But I also like to look out for shop bargains, which make an album way cheaper than if I had to download it. Plus the quality wouldn’t be as great, and even on broadband, the time it takes would be a long time.

    WAV files on the net is a no-starter. They are way too big. I’m pretty sure that soon burning Apple Lossless to CD will be possible, if it’s not already. (WinAmp 6 perhaps?) Even if I have to convert the files first, so what. That doesn’t take long. But because the files are, in theory, much smaller than WAV, I hope this format takes off.

    I doubt we will still be using MP3s in 10 years time. We shouldn’t even be using them now, the format is not the best for compression versus file size. It’s also a royalty-based format, so programs have to pay to use it.

    I also feel none of us can truly predict where the future will take us. Who would have predicted the success of the iPod? But I’m sure technology will keep on improving. Maybe music will not be just tracks, but full-blown videos, rapidly downloadable over super-fast networks. Maybe a video iPod is the future.

  35. Mike D. says:

    Interesting arguments all around. I think that if Wifi (or WiMax) is as ubiquitous as my cell phone signal (which it will be eventually), then the Napster model becomes a lot more attractive to me. But for now, I’ll still buy CDs and just rip them into iTunes right away.

    Music and video are not such great comparisons however. You listen to your favorite song (or album) hundreds and sometimes thousands of times in your life. You watch your favorite movie usually less than ten times, IN YOUR WHOLE LIFE! This has enormous implications on whether or not people will prefer to rent or own. If you’re consuming something as infrequently as you do any given movie, there really is no reason to own. Additionally, you’re almost always watching movies at your house, whereas you can be sitting on a beach listening to music. Point here being that currently, you’re more likely to have a fast connection handy during movie watching than you are during music listening.

  36. SunPass says:

    How many times have you bought the original StarWars? I bought starwars originally on LaserDisc. (not a valid medium anymore)

    I bought it on beta. (also not valid anymore)

    I bought it on vhs. (barely valid)

    I bought it again on vhs when they added surround sound.

    I bought it again on DVD. (valid for a few more years.)

    I bought it again when it was enhanced on DVD.

    I bought it again when my DVD was scratched.

    Someone stole my DVD out of my bag at the airport.

    I bought it again.

    I lent it to a friend and he somehow melted it. (don’t ask)

    My original VHS tapes don’t play right anymore. They are dying of old age.

    The great thing with “On Demand” is that I can now watch all the different versions whenever I want to. StarWars was much better off sitting in a digital format in a database. The fact is even though I owned it many times over, I can not store the disc’s or tapes perfectly forever. Sooner or later they will be ruined from a scratch or fire, ect…

    It’s the same with music. I swear some of my oldest CD’s don’t play at the same volume anymore and there is nothing wrong with them.

    Thanks for bringing up a computer crash. If my computer crashes, I replace the computer and can still listen to Napster as if nothing ever happened. If your computer breaks and you have not back up your itunes files anywhere. (I am sure alot of people do not back up there files, even to an ipod.) ByeBye files. Gone. Want them back? Pay Apple 99 cents a song… again. As you said… you own the files… It is not Apple’s responsibility to replace them if you lose or destroy them.

    Cd’s fail and get scratched and my Wife is on her second iPod mini. The first one took a nasty tumble while bike riding. Everything breaks eventually… except for the database.

    You talk about buying CD’s cheap on the net or in shops. Cassettes came out and some people went to shops to buy cheap albums. CD’s came out and some people went to shops to buy cheap cassettes. Digital music came out and some people went to shops to buy cheap CD’s… see the pattern. You are going backwards because it cheaper. I choose to go forward because it alot cheaper. In the long run all the physical media will fail. The digital database lives forever.

    Have fun spending $15,000 to fill up you iPod photo. I will listen to 15,000 songs for $9.95 a month and then listen to 15,000 more songs. Try to imagine the joy I have of typing in a keyword and getting a list of music and then clicking on a track to hear music I never knew existed before. I have listened to so many new things. I punch in Prince and get his tracks but also suggestions to listen to Parliament, I go there listen to tracks I never heard before. I had a greatest hits CD but now I can listen to a bunch of Parliament albums. Cool… then I get suggestions to listen to The Ohio Players. Who are they? I don’t know but I listened to them and became a little more musically educated. Then it recommended Quincy Jones. The old guy that shows up sometimes at award shows. He must have been pretty cool back in the day. I listened to some of that… Then the Isley Brothers,… then Teddy Pendergrass…and on and on. I had never heard any of this music before, it was awesome to be able to just listen to all of this music on a whim. I have done the same thing with rock and heavy metal. Did you realize that alot of the 80’s rock bands have remastered their albums? I didn’t, but I have heard them now. Napster gives me the ability to surf around and fully explore new music and it points you in the right direction.

    I have listened to a bunch of comedians. How many times have you bought a comedians album and listened to it only one time. To me comedy loses alot after you have heard it the first time. Now I have listened to a bunch of stuff without wasting a bunch of money. Plus I can hear all of the segue’s. Are people actually spending 99 cents to listen to a 10 minute vocal segue between two songs?

    **side note (way way off topic) Have you listened to an record album lately. Old analog technology. I played some record albums for some people and they almost fell down in shock at how much obviously better they sound. The bass and high sounds are so perfect and undistorted. Digital music cuts off the natural highs and lows. It supposedly what we can’t hear anyway… but there is obviously something missing in all digital music when compared to its analog counterpart.

  37. deckspin says:

    Sun Pass, you do make a lot of valid points. The idea of all music being on-demand is a great one. And I look forward to a day where a majority of it is. Unfortunately, there is not one database that will hold all music.

    I’m a DJ and producer. And there is so much obscure music that I own (and in some cases that I have created), that will never make it into that database. People are producing music now like they take pictures….it’s becoming a hobby. And unless everyone can be forced/trusted to take their own music, that live drum set they recorded of the guy in the subway, that new song they made using Garage Band, there will always be a need to be able to transfer music between individuals.

    It’s funny, I just got back from the Winter Music Conference in Miami, and something struck me; people were swapping physical CDs, vinyl records, and business cards. They weren’t beaming to each other’s PDAs, and they weren’t emailing links to MP3’s; they were swapping physical media. It is the fastest, most instant way to transfer something to someone in person. It feels special; it’s a gift. And a lot of people are kinesthetic. We want that physical thing to touch, hold, and yes, to own.

    The thing with TV is that until recently, we never really had it on demand, or really “owned” it, so we don’t know what we’re missing. But when the subject changes to books or music……well, those are things that we really hold sentimental value to. There must be a reason people still buy books and music, eventhough a lot of it is available online. Maybe it’s because of that book cover that was signed, or to see those liner notes and producer credits, or the artwork on that CD that was only in limited pressing.

    In regards to music, at the moment, I need to own it. Even if I were to only play MP3s via a laptop. The techology is not there yet for me to stream/DJ live reliably. And in the studio, I love to sample music and put into my own productions. At this point, I need to own it to do that. This is what drives music, forward, btw…..the reinvention of older music; combining genres; new technology, creativity, etc.

    I know I may be an exception. In fact, mp3-quality music is great for the majority of people. They can’t tell the audio difference between that and a vinyl record; and for that matter, they probably don’t care. I’m glad that there is both iTunes and Napster. Competition keeps pricing down, and people will choose one or the other (or both) for different reasons. I’m glad to have the option.

    I mostly agree with you. As a musician, I want to make my living DJ’ing and creating music. And I am setting things in place to utilize the amazing potential that digital music and the internet have provided, so that I can make money. I think the record companies should give music away digitally for free as a promotional tool, but take heed of the movie industry by offering truly enhanced sound and visual experiences on media (ala DVDs). I don’t think anyone lost money on giving away the free songs via the Pepsi iTunes promotion…..hell, it helped make Beyonce’s album sell even more.

    I think having these keychain flash drives with an mp3 of the concert that I just saw, on the way out, is great. It’s personal. And that is what the focus needs to be on…..personalizing the experience with something that ties it to a memory. After all, don’t music and memory go hand-in-hand?

  38. SunPass says:

    Yes, you are an exception because you are using music as a tool to work with. I too am a musician and it would be hard to stream sounds to sample with. Although, I have done it. It is actually very easy with my Fantom X8. But for the most part you need the physical media to work with. DJ with streamed music would be risky… people don’t like to wait for buffering in a club.

    Most people don’t actually work with the music they buy off of iTunes though. Would that even be legal?

    I fully expect that there will be liner notes and full album art on a database type site some day. This is one thing that is lacking on Napster and iTunes. If you want to see who wrote a song or the lyrics, or a picture of the art work bigger than 3 or 4 inches you will have to surf elsewhere. But someday it will all be there. Napster is already customizing the background for more popular artists. And even have videos for some of them.

    I also think that there is room for my own music in that database. I would love to use Napster to share my music without paying alot for distribution. And just think, if someone listens to it, even by accident, I might even make a buck. (probably just a buck though.)

    But even if there isn’t a database from Napster or iTunes for home grown music yet… there are plenty of database that you can submit and share your music on. The one I have listened to that comes to mind is iComposition. Some really bad music is on there but if you sift through it there is also some surprisingly good and creative music on there too. Also it’s rated and in categories to make it a little easier to find the good stuff.

  39. marble head says:

    Hi, i noticed you have an X8 and i was wondering if i could ask you something. I am also a proud owner of an x8 am overall i am very impressed, however, i do not know how to turn the current song i am working on into a wav file to export to my computer. Please could you tell me how i can get the song with all the sounds and quality onto my computer in a viable format so that i can convert them to mp3s. Many Thanks. marble head

  40. travis says:

    i got an ebook thing from freemymp3.com and it showed me how to unlock all my napster songs the i hadn’t paid for. i got me bunches of muis now. i just need to know about a good place to buy cd-r’s. any good ideas out there?

  41. patriot, not thief says:

    Sunpass, you were making such a lot of sense until you said ‘Also Napster gives Military users over 10% off. (That’s patriotic.)

    Since when does giving a discount to the tool of one man stealing the oil of another country make you patriotic?

    The military does a fine job when defending it’s country against a foreign power, or helping a nation in distress, but when it is sent in to another country to depose a leader who was trained by the CIA and placed in power by the US, the miltary becomes a tool of the greedy oil hungry neo cons. While I am sure that every man and woman in the military is obeying their command without question, you should not confuse patriotism with blind faith in a corrupt leadership

  42. Watcher says:

    Travis, I just saw your article saying something about freemymp3.com giving you the solution to unlocking your DRM protected files. Although, this comment was made a month ago I have to let the people know, that freemymp3.com is a fraud. Dunno if you are receiving the software they are asking money for, but by looking at the screenshots thei provide on their website, it shows, that the software they are promising to send is in fact another tool for bypassing DRM. It is called Tunebite(www.tunebite.com) and this one is indeed a real nice tool to work with. But the guy from freemymp3.com is selling illegal copies of Tunebite. So beware !!!

  43. Rut says:

    You can revise the steps to unprotect files from “Burn to CD” to just create a new iTunes Playlist and import your purchased songs to it. Then convert.

  44. Ted Ulrich says:

    I went to freemymp3.com and now sure what part is fraud. The software i downloaded was a trial version then i had to pay for the full version. the software worked great. How do i know if i got an illegal copy or not?

  45. mans says:

    Is it illegal to pay for a subscribtion on napster or to pay for songs on itunes. Can you get in trouble for doing this?

  46. James says:

    Tunbebite is free. If you paid for it, you were scammed.

  47. Ted Ulrich says:

    how is tunebite free? i went to the official website and they are charging about $18 for the full version. I had to pay to get the full version. I contacted the company via email from their website tunebite.com and they said they were the real deal and the freemymp3.com website was an associate sponsor and is not doing anything illegal.

  48. warren says:

    I use mp3sugar .With music downloads of all popular artists at only USD 0.10 a song, this can be the final step for most people to buy music online and not download it using peer to peer software.

  49. warren says:

    Price per song $0.10. Price per album about $0.99

  50. fjb says:

    Mike – bless you. You have released my previously ransomed tunes. Gotta love your work (aussie phrase that means you rock!)

  51. peter says:

    thatnk you so much for the insight…i have sat here thinking forever on how to “beat” the system and convert files and if it werent for you, i wouldnt have figured it out…lol thanks

  52. Mike M says:

    You could always use QtFairuse6 to unprotect your iTunes purchased music.

  53. Larry says:

    Hey All
    My 2 cents,
    I just bought a rare song that I could only buy on itunes. Suffice to say I was pissed when it could not be played by windows media player(which is far superior to itunes) because it was protected. i think most of you are missing the point however. the main reason music/dvd/gaming companies are upset is because THERE ARE PEEPS (jackasses)OUT THERE TRYING TO MAKE MONEY USING “FREE SOFTWARE” whether it be music, movies or programs. ONLY WHEN YOU TRY TO SELL COPYRIGHTED INFORMATION IS IT ILLEGAL. When I was young, I didn’t even have a CD player. I copied all of my friends CD’s to a CASSETTE TAPE…..lol…I didn’t hear the media outlet complaining then. While I agree that I don’t want anyone stealing the music I paid for, if i share it it is my business…..tell me what u guys think!!!

  54. Blair says:

    Does anyone know how you can unprotect a movie after you purchase it on itunes. I just paid 14.99 for the prestige but i want to watch it on my tv and i have a DVD RW drive on my computer but it wont let me burn the movie. im soooooo pissed. can anyone help me :(

  55. Josh Dye says:

    I am on a Mac, so this is how I un-DRM music.

    1. Once I have it playing in iTunes, I open iMove
    2. I drag the song into a new project
    3. I import a pictur into the movie, qany pic will work
    4. I choose file–>export
    5. 1uicktime->expert->share
    6. Sound to AIFF
    7. Save

    with this method, I don’t waste a CD

  56. ditto says:

    Let’s all be honest with ourselves… It doesn’t matter at all how easy it is to break the copy protection on any store! If someone is stupid enough to take the time to go through a music store to steal music and feel like they’ve accomplished something, let them wasts their time. It is far easier to just use a p2p network to obtain illegal music. All the music you could want is available through the various p2p networks! The idea of drm is crap and it makes people not want to pay for the music, especially for those on iTunes that pay for each song then are somewhat locked to the options of playback that apple gives them. I personally just use Napster because of the subscription, but if I was going to pay for an individual song or album I wouldn’t let it be touched by all of this drm crap because it strips away our rights as consumers. This is what pisses people off and until the record company acknowledges the flaw in the plan that them and steve jobs came up with, then piracy will not slow down. People choose the past of least resistence. It is only natural for unscrupulous people to get their music without drm for free rather than get tangled in nets with pay services.

  57. john says:

    I have a Macbook with OS X operating on it and I want to know how to if at all to unprotect movies that I purchased through iTunes and also one movie my brother downloaded via Limewire and is now protected after transferring to my new computer. I want to unprotect these files so that I can stream them to my xbox 360. The streaming of video to the 360 from the mac supports MP4 files; however, it does not support the protected mp4 files which really gets to me. If anyone has any idea how to unprotect these files so that I may view them on my 32″ lcd tv and not my 13″ screen please email me at socalstud10@hotmail.com.

    P.S. I have no probelm buying all my movies and not downloading them but if I can’t enjoy what I buy on my own tv I do not see a problem downloading movies. In fact, I am downloading 15+ movies right now and then I will proceed to convert them to a !@#$%$# unprotected mpeg4 VF format and maybe I will even burn them and give them to my friends out of disgust towards these individuals.

  58. Kyle Blanks says:

    I would agree with a lot of people who make the argument that owning music is no longer necessary or even the most practical way… I’m all for signing up for a subscription service such as Napster or Yahoo! Music Unlimited and paying the $15 or so subscription fee. But i want to be able to play that music on my iPod.

    As of now, for as much as I know, the only service that is iPod compatible as the iTunes Music Store. I would prefer not to pay 99 cents for every song, and just pay a monthly fee.

    Am i correct in saying that iTunes is the only iPod compatible service? And if thats true, would it be legal to use Tunebite to free that music so i could put it on my iPod?

  59. Seth says:

    i thank you for this. i have a samsung mp3 player that itunes does not recognize as a device. meaning i cannot put protected itunes music on it. this will help me be able to listen to that stuff on my mp3 player! :D

  60. Janet A says:

    I like iTunes, and their catalog has more “obscurities” than Napster. I also use Ruckus. The problem for me is that I have a non-Apple (Sansa) MP3 player, which is fine for what I need. But I can’t use my iTunes, paid-for downloads on it unless I go through the CD burn and then upload to Napster, which does recognize Sansa. I’ve paid for the music and I have a problem with not being able to legally use it as my circumstances dictate.


    p.s. Yes, analog is better. Has anyone used a digital turntable to turn analog into digital? Does it trim the highs and lows the way commercial digital music seems to?

  61. Mark says:

    I use i-tunes. I bought an i-pod and started downloading not realizing initially that they were protected. I’ve downloaded tons of albums (paid for of course) and truly wish that there was a way to unprotect them ethically and legally. I read above things that certain people wrote concerning illegally obtaining music without paying. I just want to say that I have a friend who is a professional musician in Nashville, making his living in the music industry. If you are a deadbeat downloading illegal music, shame on you. You are part of the reason why very few record companies are signing new artists and why some professional musicians who have spent a huge amount of time, dedication, and money to perfecting their talents, are having to get a part-time job. In my book, you’re low-life, deadbeat, worm dung.

  62. Aaron says:

    Who cares people in the music business are much more well-off than all of us anyway, I say in this economy we shouldn’t care about stealing music from them. Its like these people drive $50K cars and complaining about we are stealing from them. F Off!

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