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Music Pirates Won't Rush To iCloud For Forgiveness 391

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the forgive-me-steve-for-i-have-sinned dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Lots of people have suggested there's a loophole in Apple's new iCloud that will allow people who illegally download music to somehow 'launder' their dirty music files, getting a nice clean, and legal, license to the music stored on iCloud. This argument is flawed for two main reasons. The first has to do with how the laws of copyright work and the second is to do with why people share or download music (and movies) in the first place."
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Music Pirates Won't Rush To iCloud For Forgiveness

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  • by winterphoenix (1246434) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:00AM (#36449000)
    One thing the article missed was the fact that iTunes match will allows users to download 256kbps versions of the music in their libraries, regardless of the bitrate the user originally had. I know a lot of people who would be willing to pay $25 to upgrade their entire music collection to that bitrate, regardless of whether their collection was obtained legitimately or not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lunaritian (2018246)

      True audiophiles listen to lossless though.

      • true, but as a percentage of the population there aren't too many "true audiophiles". There are, however, plenty of people who claim to be audiophiles (meaning that they rip their music at the best bitrate of the day).
      • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:13AM (#36449146) Journal

        Correct. True audiophiles use $100 speaker cables too. There's unfortunately no word that means "normal person who wants his music to sound good without buying into the woo" [skepdic.com].

        • There are practical reasons for lossless, however. Where lossy media hurt is a generational loss -- maybe on my desktop or on devices which support it, I'd prefer Ogg Vorbis. Maybe if I had an iPod, AAC would be better. My feature phone likes MP3, and that's also useful if I want to share it with people. And maybe someone wants me to burn a CD, and maybe they will then rip that CD into their own lossy format.

          AAC 256k sounds fine. But generational losses do eventually add up, and disk space is cheap, so ther

          • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:46AM (#36449564) Homepage Journal

            The nice thing about digital sound is that you no longer need such expensive equipment (except your speakers/headphones). That's good for us normal folks who don't have mountains of cash, bad for audiophiles. In the analog world, the more you spent, the better it sounded. A $500 turntable sounded far more lifelike than a $50 turntable. With digital, there's no audible difference between a $500 CD changer and a $20 CD player. High quality amplifiers have gotten so cheap that what used to be a $2,000 amp now is more like $50 (like all electronics; an IBM PC with no hard drive, 4 mz chip and 64k memory was $5,000. A twenty five inch TV cost $600 in 1976, these days you can get a 42 inch high definition flat screen for less).

            An LP on a high end turntable through an amp with less than 1 db of distortion or noise played through a pair of four-way enclosures with eighteen inch woofers, a pair of different sized squawkers, a tweeter and a supertweeter will fool you into thinking it's a live performance; that's what hifi (high fidelity) means. It will sound better than the same record in CD format (provided the original studio tapes were analog).

            However, with a low end (more affordable) system, the CD will always sound better than an LP. The low end turntable will lack bass, since it will be attenuated to reduce rumble, and will lack treble to make up for the lack of bass. It may also have speed slightly off and may even have a tiny bit of flutter (but you usually only get flutter from tape). It will also introduce distortion and may not have very good separation. Cheap CD players, on the other hand, send the same numbers to the DAC as as an expensive one, and until it reaches the analog DAC the cable the signal runs through doesn't matter at all; it either works or doesn't.

            • by woolpert (1442969)

              An LP on a high end turntable through an amp with less than 1 db of distortion or noise

              Yea, because the amp is the weakest link in that chain. LOL

              It will sound better than the same record in CD format

              This is nothing more than an unsubstantiated claim that LPs are capable of fidelity beyond what 16bits @ 44.1 kHz PCM can deliver.

              Where, exactly, do LPs have the advantage?

            • by ydrol (626558)

              Dont even need expensive headphones to get audiophile quality (assuming headphones Less that 40 euros delivered.
              http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=hd+688b [google.co.uk]

            • Generally I would advise people to get decent cables for anything analog like speaker wire. No need for $100 Monster cables but look for build quality. You can always get cheaper cables but they may not last. For digital there is far less reason to have the high end stuff but quality matters.

              I had to buy a TOSlink cable recently. I had a choice between a cheap $6 one, a $12 one, or a $40 Monster. Having used the cheap optical cables before, they are flimsy; they may snap if you bend them accidentally

        • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:31AM (#36449378)

          Audiophiles get a bad rap for spending money on things that nobody can really tell a difference between, but really it's all a sliding scale of how much "better" (or "different") do you want to get vs. how much money do you not care if you spend.

          I bought the $200 headphone cable for my $400 headphones back when I had money to burn (ah the good ole days). Was it noticeably better than the $12 cable that comes with the headphones? yes. was it $188 better? Hell fucking no. not in my opinion anyway.

          Are my $400 headphones better than my $250 headphones? maybe. probably. not by very much though. Are both of them better than my $100 headphones? yes. Are $1200 headphones better than anything I own? Probably... but also likely not by very much.

          Just like any given hobby, the first small/medium sized chunk of money into gets you 90% of the ultimate potential quality, and then you can spend hundreds more to get to 95%, then thousands to get to 99%, and then possibly never get to 100% no matter how much you spend.

          When you hear audiophiles rave over "how much product X is than product Y", what they're generally doing is disregarding that first 90% of quality that everybody has, and talking about the differences, the remaining 10% or so. Because that's not clear to the casual reader, they look like idiots for spending $100 on a cable that makes almost no difference. Perhaps they are spending irresponsibly if that money should be going elsewhere to bills, etc... but if they have the money to spend, who is to say that whatever enjoyment they're getting out of their super low oxygen, quadruple shielded, magnesium tipped, fluorescent purple cables isn't worth every penny they spent, to them at least?

          Note, I'm not talking about the people who are off the scientific deep end and debating which brand SATA cable attached to their hard drive produces the best sounding mp3s.

          • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:49AM (#36449616)

            I have a PhD in Digital Music Conservation from the University of Florida. I have to stress that the phenomenon known as "digital dust" is the real problem regarding conservation of music, and any other type of digital file. Digital files are stored in digital filing cabinets called "directories" which are prone to "digital dust" - slight bit alterations that happen now or then. Now, admittedly, in its ideal, pristine condition, a piece of musical work encoded in FLAC format contains more information than the same piece encoded in MP3, however, as the FLAC file is bigger, it accumulates, in fact, MORE digital dust than the MP3 file. Now you might say that the density of dust is the same. That would be a naive view. Since MP3 files are smaller, they can be much more easily stacked together and held in "drawers" called archive files (Zip, Rar, Lha, etc.) ; in such a configuration, their surface-to-volume ratio is minimized. Thus, they accumulate LESS digital dust and thus decay at a much slower rate than FLACs. All this is well-known in academia, alas the ignorant hordes just think that because it's bigger, it must be better.

            So over the past months there's been some discussion about the merits of lossy compression and the rotational velocidensity issue. I'm an audiophile myself and posses a vast collection of uncompressed audio files, but I do want to assure the casual low-bitrate users that their music library is quite safe.

            Being an audio engineer for over 21 years, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. While rotational velocidensity is indeed responsible for some deterioration of an unanchored file, there's a simple way of preventing this. Better still, there have been some reported cases of damaged files repairing themselves, although marginally so (about 1.7 percent for the .ogg format).

            The procedure is, although effective, rather unorthodox. Rotational velocidensity, as known only affects compressed files, i.e. files who's anchoring has been damaged during compression procedures. Simply mounting your hard disk upside down enables centripetal forces to cancel out the rotational ruptures in the disk. As I said, unorthodox, and mainstream manufactures will not approve as it hurts sales (less rotational velocidensity damage means a slighter chance of disk failure.)

            I'd still go with uncompressed .wav myself, but there's nothing wrong with compressed formats like flac or mp3 when you treat your hardware right

            --
            BMO

            • *golf clap

              I was going to give you a "cool story bro", but that's actually a rather impressive piece there, I award you one internet.

            • Digital dust? Please explain why my word-processing files sit there unchanged and usable. I have files that I've opened and read after sitting unattended for years. These aren't ASCII, they're structured files for specific programs. Not conducive to any alteration at all.
            • by rjforster (2130)

              I have had good success with a Turboencabulator. I needed to tighten the differential girdlespring but digital dust has been significantly below the measureable threshold.

          • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @10:11AM (#36449910) Homepage

            I bought the $200 headphone cable for my $400 headphones back when I had money to burn (ah the good ole days). Was it noticeably better than the $12 cable that comes with the headphones? yes. was it $188 better? Hell fucking no. not in my opinion anyway.

            No. Headphone cables have no effect on sound (as long as they are not torn or shorted).

        • by ifrag (984323)

          Speaker wire is so low impedance and the signal so strong that even something from monoprice is plenty fine. The "true audiophiles" you are talking about are the brain dead kind. There actually are a breed of informed audiophiles who do the math and don't blow money on magic pixie dust components (several people over at head-fi [head-fi.org] seem to have their heads on straight). The place to really focus on cable is analog interconnects (if any). Replacing my cable from DAC -> Amp actually did make a very obvious

        • by Plammox (717738)
          No, no, no, no, no. True audiophiles use $500 audiophile ethernet cables [slashdot.org] ! (sound of toes cringing).

          Denon, I hate you.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        And we all know audiophiles are experts when it comes to sound quality.
        http://boingboing.net/2005/11/07/astronomically-overp.html [boingboing.net]

      • by kimvette (919543)

        So they listen only to live music?

        Let's review formats:

        CD: encoded at 16 bits, so you have 65,536 possible volume levels, so you are losing some sound there plus as with all electronics you encounter signal losses every step along the analog path. You use S/PDIF? Guess what? That signal eventually is converted to analog - so you are eliminating only one analog stage of the process. The receiver's on-board D/A converter still has to feed its output through the preamp and on into the power amplifier, introduc

      • by berwiki (989827)
        a CD isn't lossless. It peaks at a crappy 44khz and some other numbers. anything digital is broken down into a set of 1's and 0's which eventually, if zoomed in enough, looks like big lego blocks and is missing the smooth curves of reality.

        Saying 'lossless' is akin to saying something is 'infinite'.

        If you can quickly pick out the difference between 256kbps and 320kbps, I feel bad for you, it'd be a curse because everything would sound shitty. But lossless? comeon, just like Unlimited internet, eh Comc
    • (1) "iTunes Match, which, at a cost of $24.99, matches a userâ(TM)s existing music library against the 18 million tracks held in iTunes store, will work on the basis of assuming that you have a legal version of the music on your disk. It will have to do this to stay in keeping with the copyright laws in the US which are similar to that in Australia. "

      I don't see how Apple will know whether my MP3 rip is legal or not. The author's reasoning is flawed, because I suspect iTunes will treat copied songs

  • Forgiveness? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:01AM (#36449008) Journal

    Exactly how many pirates really care about "forgiveness"? While greater than 0, /me thinks they are overestimating the crushing guilt caused by pirating music from Sony and others.

    • I don't see how doing this would relieve the guilt in the first place. You still haven't payed for the music. And people who pirate don't fear lawsuits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      Exactly how many pirates really care about "forgiveness"? While greater than 0, /me thinks they are overestimating the crushing guilt caused by pirating music from Sony and others.

      I'd pay, but not for forgiveness. I download music illegally because that is the only way to get music where I live. The stores don't stock non-mainstream stuff, so if I want Pantera I need to go online for it. Amazon now sells MP3 files that will run on my Linux computer and I buy them, but before Amazon I had to download illegally. I have in fact purchased albums that I once downloaded illegally, now that I can. But I'm doing it slowly, one a month or so. I still have quite a bit to catch up.

      If the *AA's

      • Where do you live that you can get Internet access but can't get CDs delivered? In most of the world, the roads are built before the network cables...
    • How many of us have receipts for the music we purchased years ago? I've given/thrown/sold away most of my CDs I could once I ripped my CD collection. Once my collection goes in the cloud, and the powers that be match some of my songs to be EXACTLY the same as some other people, I'm sure there is a chance I get a knock on the door asking me to produce the receipt for the song(s) in question, as well as all the other songs in my collection. If I can't, then BOOM, I"m getting sued.

      This is going to a

      • Great conspiracy and all, but just not going to happen. Apple has paid the labels in order to do the matching. I'm guessing the contract with the labels has some terms that specifically prevents the labels from attempting to use any of this data to go after people. Think about it. If Apple lets the labels go after users then their iCloud is dead hours after the first lawsuit.

        This isn't about Apple being altruistic, it's about Apple wanting to do whatever it takes to move people into the iCloud (and of c

    • Once in a while maybe you will feel the urge [google.com]
      To break international copyright law
      By downloading MP3s from file-sharing sites
      Like Morpheus or Grokster or Limewire or KaZaA

      But deep in your heart you know the guilt would drive you mad
      And the shame would leave a permanent scar
      'Cause you start out stealing songs and then you're robbing liquor stores
      And sellin' crack and runnin' over school kids with your car

      So don't download this song
      The record store's where you belong
      Go and buy the CD like you know
  • Launder? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:03AM (#36449032)
    Have I missed something? Why would someone who downloaded their music want to "launder" it? Maybe in world where we are forced to prove that our music was legally obtained, but I have not heard of anyone being put in that situation.
    • by gutnor (872759)
      Agree, and I would like to add, if you downloaded you music, you can still be sued for that regardless if you "legalized" it somehow. Except than now, you can also be sued to falsely claim that you owned the music when uploading it.

      All you have with iCloud, is a little bit more chance than some copyright holder will want to have a closer look at your collection.

  • This iCloud thing (haven't heard much about it, I don't follow apple products) just sounds like a way for Apple to legally collect information on stupid music pirates (and probably who has ripped back-ups on their computer) that they can sell to record companies. It's like Steve Jobs saw the South Park episode "Human CentiPad" and figured it would be a good idea to coax people into unknowingly agreeing to let Apple screw over. This program is going to scan your files with the pretense that everything is leg
    • by jessecurry (820286) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:13AM (#36449148) Homepage Journal
      I'd be shocked if that were the case. I think that this is really just a way for Apple to reduce storage costs. They've got this great new data center, but they don't want to fill it up with 500 copies of every song in their music library, encoded in all different formats and bitrates.
    • That's exactly what I thought. Apple most likely has already made a deal with MAFIAA et. al. that whenever Apple runs into tags like "riPpeD by AsTROturF" it's a definite proof that it's an unlicensed copy and they'll submit the tags, filename and the person the files belong to to MAFIAA. Most people don't realize that these rippers almost always leave a tag of their own behind for some unfathomable reason, and thus when these people upload their files somewhere they're just exposing themselves to legal pro

      • step 1. get foobar2000, load up any music you own, open file properties, delete extraneous meta tags. (hell empty out the comments tag if you're really paranoid).

        step 2. save.

        step 3. breathe a sigh of relief. nobody can prove where anything you own came from as it no longer has any identifying tags and the file size is now different than any existing pirated copy.

        you can even do it on every file at once if you're careful about which tags you modify.

      • Yes, that makes complete sense for Apple to kill iCould day 1.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      The computer can't see the difference between a tune that you downloaded from some random website/via P2P/torrent , a tune you bought from a competing service, a tune one ripped from a CD you borrowed and a tune ripped from a CD you bought.

      And since users can mess with the metadata, you can't use those to detect anything either.

    • by gumbi west (610122) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:55AM (#36449700) Journal

      This will not happen.

      News flash: Steve Jobs is very, very good at business.

      Getting your clients sued for 100 times their net worth is very, very, very bad for business.

      QED.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      How would they tell whather or not it "had a valid license"? (I put that in quotes becuse I don't license music, I buy CDs). It isn't illegal to rip my CDs and store them on my hard drive or play them on an MP3 player, and the numbers burned into a copied CD are exactly the same numbers as the numbers on the factory CD it was copied from.

      And I have a boatload of analog music, both LPs and CDs, that I sample and burn on CDs. There's nothing illegal or immoral about that -- I paid for the LPs and cassettes an

    • by biglig2 (89374)

      Yes, because having ideas like "lets try and get our customers sent to prison" is exactly how Steve Jobs built Apple into a $50 billion company.

  • by Zone-MR (631588) * <slashdot@NOspAm.zone-mr.net> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:07AM (#36449084) Homepage

    So let's get this straight... iTunes will allow you to replace a pirated copy of your music with an official download, presumably identifying the original track based on audio fingerprinting and/or file hashes.

    I can't think of any way in which this could be designed not to be broken. I'm expecting people will quickly figure out a way to trade hashes/fingerprints, bypassing the requirement to even bother downloading a pirated copy. Or maybe if the threshold is low enough we'll get a Shazam-like app - that records snippets of music then presents them to iTunes as a ripped track for replacing with a HQ version.

    • by sgbett (739519)

      And Apple bills each of those users $25 per year...

      Thats the whole point. The new music model is not pay per $file, it's charging by association. They (apple) don't care whether you listen to 1 tune or a million. Provided you pay your annual fee.

      Of course they run a side business in making it pretty easy/convenient to get whatever tune you want added to your 'available library' for just cents. They've priced it to the point where ill often just buy instead of going to the trouble of scouring newsgroups for

    • by alen (225700)

      i don't know how much of the cut the RIAA companies are getting but in this case it's more than $0

    • Sigh.

      Basically if you really want to go this route, bulk convert all your mp3s to 32k thus destroying any hash/watermarks/etc checks that are on your pirated music, then use apple's icloud service to get a fresh new copy.

      Why would you want to? Beats me. Who cares if it's 256k.

    • So let's get this straight... iTunes will allow you to replace a pirated copy of your music with an official download, presumably identifying the original track based on audio fingerprinting and/or file hashes.

      I can't think of any way in which this could be designed not to be broken. I'm expecting people will quickly figure out a way to trade hashes/fingerprints, bypassing the requirement to even bother downloading a pirated copy.

      Apple is not the first to offer this "feature". You can do that with dropbox already.

      http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/04/26/1645200/Dropbox-Attempts-To-Kill-Open-Source-Project [slashdot.org]

    • It can be worse. What if Apple matches your copy with the Greatest Hits version, which may have verses omitted? What if your copy has profanities intact and you get "I want to ____ you like an animal" back? Even perusing the copies of "Brimful of Asha" on iTunes, only one of Cornershop's releases available on iTunes was at the correct pitch and duration; all the others are slightly accelerated. (It is apparently quite common for songs be time-compressed to fit the media.) I doubt many would want to risk los

  • 256kbps aac is definitely higher quality than most people would ever need, and professionally ripped audio tracks are probably better quality than what most of the target demographic for this feature will have. Apple is not aiming at the few on private trackers that download flac of V0 MP3s.
    • Sadly, you are probably 100% correct.

      Most of the target demographic probably isn't even really sure what "256kbps" means only that it's higher than what they have now, and "higher means it sounds better, right"?

      Luckily, 256kbps AAC (when done right, which we have no proof apple is doing of course) sounds transparent to the vast majority of listeners on the vast majority of songs, even on good equipment. the fact that most of the target demographic is probably listening on stock civic speakers with a 500w su

    • by arth1 (260657)

      256kbps aac is definitely higher quality than most people would ever need, and professionally ripped audio tracks are probably better quality than what most of the target demographic for this feature will have

      That depends on your definition of "most". How encompassing is that, exactly? Those who like to listen to Jazz and high hats don't really like the sound of crushed glass (which is one of the most common artefacts of MP3s, and one of the hardest to avoid).

      As for "professionally ripped", do you think that Apple hires audio engineers to do the ripping, or do you think they set up an automated ripping program and let a minimum wage slave feed it CDs?

      Anyhow, 256 kbps is just silly. The file size difference be

      • What makes you think that 320 is much better than 256? because the number is higher? hell VBR 256kbps is overkill for most music.

        -discounting codec artifacting-:
        with LAME mp3, the changeover between "this sounds lossy" and "is this the original? I can't tell" happens around 192kbps or so. (more specifically, -v2 through -v0)
        with AAC, I believe it is around 160kbps or so, although I have not spent much time with AAC.
        with Ogg Vorbis, the changeover is also around 160kbps for most people on most music, specifi

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:10AM (#36449122)

    I would bet that the studios aren't nearly as concerned with any faux legitimacy this gives to already pirated songs as they are with the possibility of users sharing username/passwords for their iCloud accounts (sharing their entire music collections en masse). Jimmy re-downloading a song he's already ripped isn't nearly as bad for business as Jimmy sharing his 8,000 song music collection with all his friends.

    • Hundreds of millions of dollars up front by Apple, and they will probably get a big chunk of that $25.

      I'm okay with it. I have a huge music library that I started ripping in the 90s from 128 kb MP3 to 160 kb AAC, and this is a perfect chance for an across-the-board upgrade to 256 kb AAC. Plus all the metadata should get cleaned up.

  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @09:27AM (#36449336) Journal
    As a non-"Audiophile", but someone who appreciates decent quality rips, I can see a simple enough use for this...

    Downloaded tracks often have questionable origins and quality - I've heard things that someone clearly recorded straight off FM radio, complete with censoring bleeps; Songs that sounded almost like they'd come from vinyl (hisses and pops); Songs that fade in and out at random; Songs with tags that look like a native speaker of 1337 just discovered the wonders of Unicode.

    Now personally, if I like a track enough to care about any of the above, I'll just buy the album (not just a CYA comment - I violate copyrights not only shamelessly, but with outright pride; I very much believe in supporting artists I like, however). But as a way of converting a crappy rip into a nice shiny clean reasonably HQ and properly tagged file? My music library contains somewhere on the order of 30k files; I'd gladly pay $25 to replace all the crap automagically.
    • by Snocone (158524)

      > My music library contains somewhere on the order of 30k files; I'd gladly pay $25 to replace all the crap automagically.

      One note here, it seems from initial reports that your $25 gets you 20k songs max. I would suspect that's probably a licensing limitation, along the lines of iTunes allowing you to only burn 5 copies of a playlist to CD back in the day.

      Still, I'm with you, $25/yr to keep more music than I can plausibly listen to in adequate for mobile quality handy in the cloud sure strikes me as a ma

    • It's true that the initial mp3 ripped more than six years ago were fairly low quality. The stuff that's available now is quite good quality (and some are ripped at rates too high to be of additional benefit).

      I occasionally re-download stuff that I notice has skips in them. They're invariably songs that I had downloaded or personally ripped 6 or 7 years ago.

  • RIAA Field Day? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you owned thousands of pirated tracks would you really want to open your computer so someone with close ties to all 3 major labels can scan each and every one?

    • Re:RIAA Field Day? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by keytoe (91531) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @01:26PM (#36452776) Homepage

      If you owned thousands of pirated tracks would you really want to open your computer so someone with close ties to all 3 major labels can scan each and every one?

      Who cares?

      Long Answer: There is nothing in copyright law that states that owning a copy of some media, no matter the origin, is illegal. There are plenty of provisions to restrict copying, distribution or alteration - but nothing about possession.

      You will note that all of the RIAA cases brought to court to date were explicitly about 'sharing music' and not about 'downloading music' or 'having music'. There is a reason.

  • I hate the music industry. I hate their unethical behavior. I hate how they bully people. I hate how they cater to the lowest common denominator. I hate how they try to shove crap down our throats. I don't want any "forgiveness" or "amnesty" bullshit. I WANT THEM DEAD.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.

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