How iTunes Plus Gets Away With It

When Apple announced earlier this year that they would also be offering music for sale on the iTunes Music Store unencumbered by digital rights management, many folks (myself included) rejoiced. Even though the music would cost slightly more, it would be much higher quality, and you would no longer have to worry about being “authorized” by Apple to listen to it.

However, now that iTunes Plus has launched, it turns out that Apple is actually storing your name in the track! I don’t actually find this objectionable – it is presumably there to deter or help track people who turn around and post their music on the Internet for anyone and everyone to download, and the record labels are just not going to be keen on that.

But it gets more interesting. It’s not obvious where this information is stored in the file, so it’s not trivial to strip it out. Apple seems to be using steganography to hide the information in the tracks! Quite creative. Rumor has it that the liberal-minded (and friends of Needmore) EFF are taking a look at this to see if it’s in any way unethical. I suspect it isn’t. I buy e-books in PDF format all the time, and my name is visible on every page. I think that’s fair, too.

I just find it interesting that Apple still has something up their sleeve. They’re not giving away the shop yet!

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.