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Apple Negotiates For Unlimited iTunes Downloads 133

Posted by timothy
from the download-at-will dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Bloomberg reports that Apple is in talks with record companies including Vivendi SA (VIV)'s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) and EMI Group Ltd. to give iTunes music buyers easier access to their songs on multiple devices. The deal would provide iTunes customers with a permanent backup of music purchases if the originals are damaged or lost and would allow downloads to iPad, iPod and iPhone devices linked to the same iTunes account. The negotiations come as iTunes is facing competition from new Web-based services such as Spotify Ltd., Rdio Inc. and MOG Inc. that focus on letting customers listen to songs from anywhere with an online connection, instead of downloading tracks to a hard drive. 'Long-time iTunes users know that one of the more obnoxious differences between music and app downloads on the iTunes Store is the fact that apps can be re-downloaded a seemingly infinite number of times,' writes Jacqui Cheng. 'In contrast, users can only download music tracks once — if you find yourself without backups and your music disappears, you must beseech the iTunes gods to let you re-download all your music—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, should they hear your prayers.""
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Apple Negotiates For Unlimited iTunes Downloads

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  • I just got an iPhone 4. I really don't know why I waited so long. I suppose I was just happy with my previous phone.

    But one of the key reasons I bought the iPhone was because of its MP3 capabilities. I have a lot of CDs and wanted to listen to them on the road, so I decided to burn all the CDs to the iTunes.

    Anyway, what I'm getting at is that buying the CD gives me something that iTunes music downloaders don't get. That is unlimited access to my music without DRM and without having to pay some online servic

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nice try, bad analogy guy, but neither article mentioned DRM or in any way alluded to DRM.
    • Anyway, what I'm getting at is that buying the CD gives me something that iTunes music downloaders don't get. That is unlimited access to my music without DRM and without having to pay some online service for it.

      Erm, you seem to think iTunes has DRM. It doesn't.
      And unless you're stealing your CDs from Walmart, one would assume you paid something for them.

      What you are getting with your CDs is the full chunk of data that you can compress to the level of your choice before putting it on your portable player. And of course a physical "backup". I used to buy used CDs for this reason, but for the most part I now am willing to trade that for convenience and lower cost in most cases, so I buy from iTunes and Amazon.

      • Erm, you seem to think iTunes has DRM. It doesn't.

        You are correct about CD rips, Amazon MP3 purchases, and newer iTunes Store music purchases. But older iTunes Store music has DRM, and the iTunes Plus deal with the record labels doesn't include converting existing m4p files to m4a. Movies on iTunes Store still have DRM because of the six major movie distributors' wishes. Applications on iTunes Store still have DRM despite some developers' wishes.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Did they finally eliminate the DRM tracks? Last I'd heard about that was that DRM free tracks were introduced alongside the DRM encumbered ones and could be had for a small premium. I could be wrong, but I think you had to pay an upgrade fee to trade up the DRM encumbered ones for the DRM free tracks if you'd already purchased them with DRM.

        • They introduced the DRM free tracks alongside the protected ones and then some time later they stopped offering the DRM protected ones. Music sold with drm will still have it unless the user upgrades it and while the price for upgrading was fairly reasonable (IIRC it was the same as the price difference at the time they were selling both) they made upgrading an all or nothing thing (I can see credit card fees would make them not want to upgrade one track at a time but still all or nothing seems over the top

        • You had to pay an upgrade fee, yes, but every track sold NOW has no DRM. And there are plenty of tools which will remove that legacy DRM for you on your old files, if you so desire. Those files were also 128kpbs AAC, now all files are 256kpbs AAC... so they sound better too. So the upgrade fee isn't really just for removing DRM, you're also getting a better quality file with that no DRM. Still, early adopters got bit, and people who bought CDs didn't, and are still better off.
          • It's even worse than you suggest for those early adopters. If you bought itunes music back when the tracks had DRM, and you lose it, it's gone forever- itunes won't let you download re-download albums that have been changed in the interim, under any circumstances.
          • by SeaFox (739806)

            You had to pay an upgrade fee, yes, but every track sold NOW has no DRM. And there are plenty of tools which will remove that legacy DRM for you on your old files, if you so desire.

            Which is good because upgrading wasn't such a cut and dried affair. The track generally had to be from the same album as the original, and must be a track you paid for, and the collection of music on iTunes isn't static. I have an entire "sampler" album I got on iTunes free of charge and was never able to upgrade it to iTunes+, I imagine because it was a sampler album. I also have a couple tracks from an artist who I guess had a change of licensing deals with their record label or iTunes. I have the track i

            • It was a pretty ridiculous mess for a while - for instance, I had the Complete U2 pack - and even though for the LONGEST time, all of the components of that pack were avaliable for upgrade, the U2 pack as is was not... which was a gigantic portion of my audio library. Of course by then, I had stripped the DRM off of most of my files... so for me the upgrades were much more about the increase in audio quality than stripping DRM.
      • by morari (1080535)

        Who would steal their CDs from Wal-Mart? All of their discs are censored.

    • I just got an iPhone 4. [...] one of the key reasons I bought the iPhone was because of its MP3 capabilities. [...] I really like the Genius automatic playlist generator. I use it to all the time.

      I was under the impression that all Android-powered phones could play MP3 music as well. So of all the advantages that Android has over iOS, it appears you gave them up for Genius playlists. I acknowledge that you may have found it worth it, but my priorities happen to differ.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grapeape (137008)

        Even if you dismiss the app store as being completely due to the iphones head start, Androids advantages are all subjective and nearly all are trade offs. Androids interface can be very nice and very configurable but isn't nearly as simple to use for the non technical. With iOS you dont have to depend on the phone manufacturer to feel generous and give updates, unless the hardware simply cannot support the new features with apple you just get them. With an apple device you know exactly what your going to

        • My wife who is very non-technical finds Android easier to use than the iPhone. I can't really get her to explain it though. A pity that, I'm truly interested in why. That knowledge could help me and others when making interfaces on phones.
          • by node 3 (115640)

            No matter what the interface, as long as it's sufficiently reasonable, there will always be some people from each broad category (like "geeks" and "non-technical", etc.) who like each interface. The question isn't whether there is one non-techie who finds Android easier. What matters is that category in aggregate.

            I do trust you don't think that your wife is representative of this category as a whole. Simple observation of society outside of your immediate household does tend to show that your household is t

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Essentially any modern phone can play mp3s. Even nokia's S40 "dumbphones" that go for 50-ish without contract can play it. Often in better quality then iphone due to specialized DSP on board for cases when they're branded as "music phones".

        • by node 3 (115640)

          What is this fascination with the cheapest possible device that can do some specific function? BadAnalogyGuy didn't say he bought an iPhone because it's the only phone that can play music, he said it bought it because it can. No matter which phone he chose (including a $50-ish Nokia), he would have had the same reasoning. It's not that he bought an iPhone specifically, but that he got a new phone in order to play music.

          What bothers you so much about him buying an iPhone anyway? I never give people shit for

          • by tepples (727027)

            What is this fascination with the cheapest possible device that can do some specific function?

            I think it might have something to do with the fact that some of us prefer to have money left over to buy other toys. For example, that's why I stick with a dumbphone + PDA instead of a smartphone: cheaper service for the few calls I do make means an extra $50+ per month in my pocket.

            • by SeaFox (739806)

              I think it might have something to do with the fact that some of us prefer to have money left over to buy other toys.

              But the experience counts for something, too. I owned a factory refurbished Sansa Clip I got for $20. It's 1 GB of storage is enough for me for the most part and I liked that it had a screen and got good battery life. But it was a pain to deal with as far as transferring files because I had to use Windows Media Player. I already had my entire music collection up and running in iTunes and WMP didn't recognize things like compilation albums correctly. I also had all my purchased CDs ripped to AAC, which the C

            • by node 3 (115640)

              I still don't understand why someone would want to live the cheapest life that money can buy. You only get one shot at life. You get no credit in the end for having saved money. What good is a life if one doesn't splurge now and then? I understand there are times when splurging is either irresponsible, or perhaps even outright impossible, but that's obviously not the situation the OP finds himself in. Clearly he can afford the iPhone.

              But more importantly, my issue is when someone chimes in giving someone st

              • It's not like he was spending *your* money. He was spending *his* money.

                The situation I fear is that so many people buy iPhones that non-Apple phones and/or non-phone media players lose their economies of scale, or so many people buy iPads that netbooks lose their economies of scale. At that point, people for whom splurging is irresponsible or who require features that Apple is known to deny end up with no options other than tough shit.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        I just got an iPhone 4. [...] one of the key reasons I bought the iPhone was because of its MP3 capabilities. [...] I really like the Genius automatic playlist generator. I use it to all the time.

        I was under the impression that all Android-powered phones could play MP3 music as well. So of all the advantages that Android has over iOS, it appears you gave them up for Genius playlists. I acknowledge that you may have found it worth it, but my priorities happen to differ.

        Any advantages you think Android has over iOS are 100% opinion, just as any advantages iOS has over Android are 100% opinion (even things that are objective, like "Android has WiFi tethering, iOS does not" (no longer true, but it was) or "iOS supports 'Retina' display resolutions, Android does not", are subjective in terms of whether they are an advantage and/or how important such an advantage is to each individual person)). What makes one thing an advantage, and to what extent, it relative. For most people

        • by tepples (727027)

          I acknowledge that you may have found it worth it, but my priorities happen to differ.

          You need to learn to realize that other people can have wildly different opinions about things

          I thought I had said that. If not, that's what I meant; how should I have worded it?

          • by node 3 (115640)

            I acknowledge that you may have found it worth it, but my priorities happen to differ.

            You need to learn to realize that other people can have wildly different opinions about things

            I thought I had said that. If not, that's what I meant; how should I have worded it?

            Maybe, but I did not get the impression that you realized his opinion could be *wildly* different than yours, and instead that he simply valued Genius so much that it overwhelmed everything else, when in reality I suspect that a lot of the things that you see as "advantages" of Android over iOS are not the same to him as they are to you.

            But my main issue is that you seemed so eager to question his choice in device/OS. It really doesn't concern you (or me). I never give anyone shit for buying Android. I unde

    • by DuctTape (101304) *

      Anyway, what I'm getting at is that buying the CD gives me something that iTunes music downloaders don't get. That is unlimited access to my music without DRM and without having to pay some online service for it.

      I think a house fire trumps physical CDs.

      DT

      • Yes house fires are nasty, lukilly they are rare and uncorrelated enough that insurance against them is affordable.

        OTOH i've never heard of anyone insuring a media collection that requires online activation based DRM (as opposed to mere copy protection) against the provider going out of buisness and given that such an event would hit a load of people at once it would be difficult to insure against on a large scale without exposing the insurers to unacceptable risk.

        • by node 3 (115640)

          Yes house fires are nasty, lukilly they are rare and uncorrelated enough that insurance against them is affordable.

          OTOH i've never heard of anyone insuring a media collection that requires online activation based DRM (as opposed to mere copy protection) against the provider going out of buisness and given that such an event would hit a load of people at once it would be difficult to insure against on a large scale without exposing the insurers to unacceptable risk.

          Which has absolutely nothing to do with iTunes music, and is a somewhat unreasonable near-term fear with regards to Apple. Specifically, what are the odds, do you think, that Apple will shut down their authorization servers any time soon? By 2030, for example, do you think people will be unable to authorize their computer with Apple (for non-music purchases, music purchases won't require this, and perhaps by then, neither will any other media).

          I expect internal optical drives to become a thing of the past,

      • I think a house fire trumps physical CDs.

        I think homeowner's insurance trumps a house fire. In any case, CDs are the least of my worries at that point.

    • by dgilzz (1929066)
      You're so right, the best quality comes from ripped CD and very often at the cheapest price ! ;-) Most iTunes downloads are on 256kbps, ripping actual CDs in lossless will give you at least 600 kbps files, perfect for ipod, hifi, etc...
    • by node 3 (115640)

      Anyway, what I'm getting at is that buying the CD gives me something that iTunes music downloaders don't get. That is unlimited access to my music without DRM and without having to pay some online service for it.

      Unless you didn't phrase what you meant very well, iTunes downloads offer the exact same thing. Unlimited access to your music without DRM and without any further payment to an online service (you do have to pay initially, but you have to do the same thing with CDs).

      I recommend you also buy CDs so that you don't have the DRM problem mentioned in the article.

      This story is not about DRM, it's about redownloading music. This goes above and beyond the CD. If you lose your CD, you don't get a free replacement. That's what Apple is trying to get for people who buy their music online.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    a move in the right direction.
    As long as they make it harder to be legit then not, I'll never be in the basket with the other apples...

  • This is why I stopped using iTunes completely a few years ago, other than to put podcasts on my (now defunct) iPod nano.

    • by darjen (879890)

      I stopped using iTunes because it's so damn slow. Anything more than 10 songs there was major lag scrolling down. And that was on reasonably fast hardware with discrete video card.

      • My desktop's CPU was made in 2001. My laptop was made in 2006. I have roughly 2500 songs and I don't have major lag. Perhaps maybe your sample size of 1 isn't indicative of the whole iTunes experience.
  • Better service.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cortesoft (1150075) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:11PM (#35390116)

    You know who lets you download your songs as many times as you want?

    The Pirate Bay

    • Re:Better service.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by SpooForBrains (771537) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:13PM (#35390124)
      So do 7 Digital, and have done for ages. I'm not sure why this has taken Apple so long.
      • Wow, if only there was an article that explained why.
      • by imamac (1083405) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:27PM (#35390240)

        I'm not sure why this has taken Apple so long.

        Because it wasn't in their contract with the big 5 to be able to do so. (If you read the summary you would have been able to at least infer that much.) Any changes to the contract require concessions. It's give and take. I would bet they have been after this for a while but the big 5 were too greedy.

      • Re:Better service.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:11PM (#35390588) Homepage

        Because Apple's store is way too dominant for their liking and they'd rather have a bunch of stragglers fighting to sell their music at the lowest possible markup? The record companies wanted to raise prices, particularly on the one or two hits that'd otherwise sell an album but Apple refused. The only reason Amazon got to open an MP3 shop was because Apple was bullying them around.

        For them it's not getting better, it's getting worse. On the iPod, Apple needed the big labels. Now many people will get an iPhone or iPad for the apps, selling music is secondary. That and digital sales have increased massively, they can't afford not to be on iTunes anymore. They don't like that Apple is becoming the gatekeeper and is fighting it, but I don't think they'll win this one.

        This [fildelning.se] is a pretty good graph on where we're heading, the CD is dying and digital is taking over. The iTunes Store is looking to be the Wal-Mart of digital downloads and the big 5 the manufacturers being squeezed to the lowest possible margins. That's not a future they saw coming and are trying desperately to back out of.

        • by McDutchie (151611)

          The record companies wanted to raise prices, particularly on the one or two hits that'd otherwise sell an album but Apple refused.

          Actually, Apple has been allowing that since April 2009 [msn.com].

        • by grouch (134490)

          I look at the chart you linked and see significant, precipitous declines where the RIAA either ignored negative feedback or outright attacked customers:

          Late '70s - disco was pushed on radio, tv, everywhere, and audiophiles (LP buyers) rejected it (the sale of hissing cassettes stayed flat unti CDs came along)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco [wikipedia.org]

          1990s - CD sales flatten as the loudness war gets really noticeable
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war [wikipedia.org]

          2001 - CD sales take a nose-dive after the Napster decision

        • by SeaFox (739806)

          This [fildelning.se] is a pretty good graph on where we're heading, the CD is dying and digital is taking over. The iTunes Store is looking to be the Wal-Mart of digital downloads and the big 5 the manufacturers being squeezed to the lowest possible margins. That's not a future they saw coming and are trying desperately to back out of.

          Might want to look at this [businessinsider.com] before you use that chart as a reference again.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Very nice link, I'll bookmark it. If anything it just makes it ever so much clearer that the CD is dying a rapid death though.

        • Re:Better service.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mjwx (966435) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @12:02PM (#35397422)

          The record companies wanted to raise prices

          This is how I see it. Just like with the codec changes a few years ago that heralded a 30% price increase, the record labels want to raise the price yet again but Apple want to make it look like they're resisting.

          Recording industry: We would like to raise prices for digital downloads.
          Apple: Absolutely, we agree, after all we're getting a percentage.
          Recording industry: Excellent, lets say another 30% added onto the RRP.
          Apple: We have one minor provision though.
          Recording industry: Provision?
          Apple: Well, the plebs trust us, we've got an image to maintain and raising prices like this would be seen as being "evil" and "uncool" so we want to give a token gesture that would allow us to disguise this as something for their own good.
          Recording industry: Pah, we care nothing for the sheep. What do you have in mind.
          Apple: Something trivial, something they already have access to, say the ability to redownload songs they've already paid for.
          Recording industry: Well I suppose so, we've already planned for the recordings we are releasing tomorrow to be outdated by next week, we'll be releasing the same recording with a new drum beat over the top. The sheep who does not have it will be the laughing stock of its herd.
          Apple: Excellent.

    • by lhunath (1280798)

      Ignoring the copyright issues involved, you seem to think that torrent tracker and seed availability are somehow more reliable than DRM-free corporate-backed cloud solutions.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Considering the number of these "drm free corporate back cloud solutions" going belly-up being quite significant, while essentially all posted reasonably popular bands have their full discographies in reach of a simple search on TPB, and these have been seeded for longer then most of the companies have been in existence...

        And considering how many users got a really nice finger from these companies when they went belly-up...

        Yeah. You got that one right.

    • Do you know who doesn't have to support the infrastructure for those downloads, nor has to support the creation of the content of those downloads?

      Yup, The Pirate Bay.

      Its easy to be the best at competing when you don't have the same costs...
      • Apple could have the same infrastructure cost if they use bittorrent to distribute their content. The Pirate Bay still has to pay for it's servers.

        We could argue about the cost of producing music for ages. I will bet dollars to donuts, however, that a negligible fraction of your download price from apple goes to actual production costs.

  • ...So, how come they want to negotiate with the music cartels?.... Whats in it for them, they're only after are hard earned money, with their rip off ipads/macs/music store... as we all know.

    (/sarcasm!.... I'm actually an Apple lover... but, this is directed at all the haters that seem to frequent Slashdot these days).

  • Licensed content (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xian97 (714198) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:14PM (#35390128)
    Since you only have a license for the content, then there is no reason why you should not be able to re-download it again. That license that you bought and paid for should not disappear just because you didn't perform a back up. If you have a physical copy such as a CD then there should be a replacement cost, but you can also sell and give away that CD, unlike a digital purchase which is tied to the account.
    • Obviously, the record companies disagree with you..... why else would Apple have to negotiate, rather than just flick a switch to allow multiple downloads.

      I guess, their argument is, if you damage a CD, you have to rebuy. You should have to do the same for digital downloads

      • by hedwards (940851)

        And yet, quite a few other online stores allow for multiple downloads, and have for years. I'm sorry, but was Apple really that short sighted or is this another Steve Jobs blow job incoming? Er snow job.

    • Re:Licensed content (Score:5, Informative)

      by trawg (308495) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @10:13PM (#35393674) Homepage

      There's no real COPYRIGHT LAW reason why you shouldn't be able to - but the cost of doing another download has other costs that need to be accounted for (the cost of the bandwidth, the cost of making a new connection to the download servers, etc, etc). It's easy to assume that cost is zero, but I can imagine it being something that people take seriously when it comes to capacity planning.

      And before any gamers chime in and say "well, that's bullshit, because Steam lets you download things as many times as you want" - a significant proportion of the Steam Content Server Network is paid for by companies (ISPs) that are not Valve that maintain local mirrors (I manage two in Australia; we have several others because the cost of bandwidth is relatively high, and so there are several ISPs that are voluntarily running them for Valve as a benefit for their customers and to help reduce their bandwidth costs - so Valve get all that bandwidth for free).

  • by pyalot (1197273) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @02:35PM (#35390290)
    Not gonna happen. I've seen people attempt to negotiate unlimited redownloads, the big four labels will balk at this like mad, and then they'll demand that this only be enabled on DRMed content, and only for a limited amount of redownloads (7 or so).

    The big four labels will see this as an attempt to renegotiate the royalties, and they'll fight tooth and claw to let royalties drop further.
    • It's interesting to see where the balance of the scale is. Is iTunes big enough that they can dictate terms to the labels, and that if the labels disagree they'd be hurt by non-inclusion into Apple's retail presence? Or is Apple hurt more by not having some of the labels available through their store?

      • by pyalot (1197273)
        Well Apple's not gonna drop the music business and the big four know that. It'd be perfectly clear that if Apple throws that bargaining chip on the table that it's a bluff.
        • That's not what is meant here. Apple is now the #1 vendor of Music, even more than Walmart. If Apple decided to remove one of the labels from the store, the label would take a substantial loss in profits. Remember when NBC decided to yank all their shows from iTunes, because Apple wouldn't sell more than $2 and episode, and then came back a few months later hat in hand?

          • by pyalot (1197273)
            Yeah but the situation's different. It's Apple asking for something, not the labels yanking their stuff off. So it would have to be apple who throws a label out, and that's just what's not gonna happen.
    • I dunno - most other digital content sold online can be re-downloaded these days, from what I've seen. Steam lets me re-download my games; Kindle Store lets me re-download my books; IIRC, Amazon VOD does it for videos; and all "app stores", including Apple's, do it for apps. Music has been the odd one so far (not just on iTunes; Amazon MP3 is also download-once).

  • by CFTM (513264) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:00PM (#35390500)

    My experience represents just one customer but I have never had an issue getting Apple to reissue downloads to me after losing all my data. They happily obliged after a hard drive failure and after my computer was stolen. Shame on me for not having backups, but Apple has always been very accommodating.

    • by bushing (20804)
      I think that the issue here is that Apple is required to "only allow one download per purchase, under normal circumstances" (or something to that effect). Emailing them and asking for them to make an exception and let you redownload the music may be within the terms of their license, but "automatic" redownloading apparently isn't.
  • by darjen (879890)

    I use Mog and couldn't be happer. I listen to a lot of new releases and it's a lot better to just download however much I want. I used to buy and rip CDs but that's kind of a waste of time IMO. I hate using iTunes to manage and sync files.

  • I never understood the appeal of buying one song. I'm much more comfortable with a subscription service like spotify (which i use) and wimp where you pay a sum each month and can listen to whatever song you want. I wish the movie and tv industry would go for this model as well and let you play anything as long as you subscribe on any device you want.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @05:17PM (#35391640)

    I used to have to visit MacRumors.com [slashdot.org] separately - thank you for saving me time by cross-posting all the latest Apple scuttlebutt here!

    • I used to have to visit MacRumors.com [slashdot.org] separately - thank you for saving me time by cross-posting all the latest Apple scuttlebutt here!

      I used to have to go to Engadget.com separately - thanks to your apple post, I can now get my daily dose of Apple haters in one place!

  • What do the Slashdot crowd think of how the Music industry is playing one company off against another?

    Since about Day One "The Labels" have been pure evil, while surely its understandable that they DO NOT want Apple to control the present and future of music, should they be able to severely disadvantage one player for being stronger as of the present?

    I'm curious after reading some of our other comments. That Apple shot ahead, no questions about it, and dominated the music industry with iPod, but now

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