Apple Records User Info in DRM-Free Tracks

Dennis Faas's picture

Many music lovers were happy to hear that Apple would be using DRM-free music. However, smiles turned into frowns last week when it was revealed that Apple is labeling the unprotected music files with the buyer's details, including names and email addresses. If the user uploads the song to another file-sharing network, he could get into some seriously hot water.

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that Apple has remained mum about the reason for obtaining the information. However, defending their position is Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg. Gartenberg said that there are numerous reasons for tagging the music sold through iTunes. For example, the information could be used as a proof of purchase or to facilitate upgrades. (Source:

Gartenberg also added his two cents about piracy issues. "In terms of sharing files, you're not legally permitted to do that anyway," he said. "You weren't supposed to that in the first place. You've technically violated the service agreement. Just because you've taken away the locks on the doors doesn't mean you can walk into someone's house and walk away with the TV set." (Source:

Not everyone sees eye to eye with Gartenberg. Intellectual property attorney Fred von Lohmann believes that Apple should at least encrypt the information. "There's absolutely no reason that it had to be embedded, unencrypted and in the clear. 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 email address of its rightful owner." (Source:

The frustration caused by the issue has continued to build up since Apple has declined to comment. But waiting for Apple to explain themselves is probably not the best thing to do -- unless you're really looking forward to a hazy PR statement.

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