Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm ditching iTunes

I've complained here several times in the past about DRM on purchased downloaded music. When Apple release iTunes Plus several months ago, which offered higher-quality recordings of songs and no DRM, I applauded the move and bought a number of songs to show my support. While I'm still happy with iTunes Plus, the selection is too weak, there's no way to specifically browse iTunes Plus songs, and the songs are still in the Apple proprietary AAC format.

Since then, Amazon launched it's MP3 download service, and I have to say I love it. Most songs are $0.89, the rest $0.99 (and albums can bring the per-song cost below that). All songs are MP3, with no DRM, so I don't have to worry about accidentally downloading something that won't play. Amazon automatically inserts the files into my iTunes library, so it seamlessly makes its way onto my iPod. And it is a far better experience to use than iTunes. I find myself buying several songs a week, as I hear them on the radio or remember a song I like - at less than a dollar a track, it's a perfect impulse purchase. And since it doesn't have DRM, I'm not locked in to anybody's proprietary platform - not Apple's, not Microsoft's, not Amazon's. I actually am comfortable that I'll still be able to play these tracks in 20 years.

So I decided to make a clean break. I burned all of my DRM-protected AAC songs to a CD, and then re-ripped them back into my iTunes library as un-protected MP3. (This appears to be kosher to do, since burning to a CD is allowed, and ripping CDs is allowed). I've also converted my iTunes Plus AAC songs to MP3 as well. My entire library is now 100% un-protected MP3. I can listen to songs on my iPod, or any computer in the house, or through my XBox.

I've paid for the songs and don't share them - isn't that precisely what the record companies want their customers to do? So why should I suffer the strait-jacket of DRM? I will never again willingly or knowingly buy a DRM-protected song.

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