I'm not sure that it's only DRM that stymie iTunes sales, but it's possible. For me, 99 cents is too
much to pay (in fact, 1 cent is too much to pay) for less than CD quality. If they had the songs
available in Apple Lossless Format or something similar, even with a DRM wrapper on the file, I'd be
much more inclined to buy some of the out-of-print jazz and classical stuff for sale only at iTunes.
But, I'm not sure an appreciation for sound quality is what's driving the masses away from DRM.
This whole issue is a sticky wicket. Back when the Fair-Use rules were written, if you had a record
(or pre-recorded cassette) and you wanted to share with a friend, you had to go to the trouble of
making a tape for them, in real time, which often sounded inferior to the source. Sure, all of us
did it, but we also paid a fair-use tax in the price of blank tape. So Big Music (which was less big
back then and some of the companies were still run by music people as opposed to lawyers and
accountants) didn't really get crimped -- and also, of course, they were putting out more product
with a mainstream appeal and radio was somewhat functional as a marketing tool. My point is, back
when the rules on fair use of copyright material were written, it was harder to mass-share something
you had paid for. Nowadays, you can burn a copy for a friend, who can rip to MP3 and send copies to
his 1000 closest friends in less than a snow day home from school. So, even though I'm no fan of Big
Music, they have a point in all of this. If the owners of the copyright material -- descendants of
those who put up money to record the old stuff and current funders of new material -- cannot get a
return on their investment, they do not have a business model. So in that case nothing can be made
available because it's a money-losing proposition and companies are not in business to lose money.
So some new middle ground has to emerge, and I'm not sure what it is. I would argue that selling
higher-quality digital downloads at iTunes might generate less resentment about the DRM, but like I
said I might be a small niche who cares about sound quality. One mechanism might be that an owner of
an iTunes song could "share" it with 10 friends, each of whom would have to be registered with
iTunes. The "shared" song they receive via some e-mail or iTunes store/e-mail mechanism would be
unlocked for XX plays thru their iTunes account. After XX plays, they would have to buy the song.
Even that gets my resentment for paying for something twice going, but like I said, it's long past
the days where you had to spin a record in real time and record it to a cassette that you paid a
fair-use tax on. So in a sense, it's going back to how it was as far as net consumer cost and
-- Tom Fine