iTunes users sue Apple
January 6, 2005 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Wanna join a class action suit? Is Fair Play fair? Guess the courts will decide this one. I know my iPod changes my life ;-)
posted by fixedgear (51 comments total)

 
My thoughts - sure, you pay more to have the cachet of an iPod. But, if that's so important to you then you deserve to pay more.

If you don't want to use an iPod and have the fancy earbuds then by all means go to the Wal-Mart online music store (it's real) and buy your tunes for $0.89 and use them on your el-cheapo MP3 player.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2005


I somehow doubt the Plaintiff's REAL interest in this case is about what's fair.
posted by basicchannel at 3:37 PM on January 6, 2005


First, nobody forces anyone to buy Apple. Second, you can burn a FairPlay-encoded AAC file to a CD then re-rip the file as a "clean" MP3 and play it wherever you want if you absolutely do not want an iPod. Hell, the only gripe I have about iTMS is that you can't re-download a song if you suffer a crash. I dunno, people said for years that "if only they'd introduce a music store with quick, inexpensive, per-song downloads and non-intrusive DRM, I'd be all over it!"

On preview - I don't think an iPod has so much cachet any more. If anything, it's the opposite. People are, however, willing to pay for a staggeringly easy to use interface (passed the 6-year-old nephew test when he got hold of mine last week) and a painless music store/storage experience.
posted by socratic at 3:38 PM on January 6, 2005


I still laugh at people who resist buying an iPod.

Want portable music?
Don't buy it on iTunes.
There is a choice.
posted by cinderful at 3:38 PM on January 6, 2005


If only there was a way to burn those songs onto a CD and play them in a very inexpensive portable CD player...

Oh, right. Yeah, never mind. Sorry your honor.
posted by eperker at 3:41 PM on January 6, 2005


Forgot to mention my pending court action against Microsoft on behalf of the "Friends of Sony Foundation". Microsoft is monopolizing the Xbox game market! I should be allowed to play Xbox games on my PS2! :mad:
posted by basicchannel at 3:42 PM on January 6, 2005


Aren't there other mp3 player companies (like Sony), who package certain software with it where you can buy music from an online music store, which you can only play in that player?
posted by jasonspaceman at 3:55 PM on January 6, 2005


My other thing about the case... if the iPod monopoly is so bad then why are iPods flying off the shelves STILL (long after they've apprently lost their cahet)? People know what they're getting into - $300 for the iPod plus a buck-a-song. Part of the deal.

It's like complaining that a Glade Plug-Ins refill only fits a Glad Plug-In WarmerThing(tm). Of course it does. But you knew that when you bought it.

On the other hand, the Lexmark v. Static Controls case held that other firms are basically allowed to hack printer cartridges, so I'm suprised that Real put up with the C&D from Apple.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 3:55 PM on January 6, 2005


I won't buy one, mostly because of the gap between tracks on playback (think "China Cat Sunflower" (into) "I know you Rider", or any other set of tracks where you don't want a gap in the middle). Also lack of support for SHN and FLAC seem very short sighted.

Also, I am waiting for the Newton II anyway.
posted by Gankmore at 4:11 PM on January 6, 2005


I still laugh at people who resist buying an iPod.

i still laugh at people with iPods, so i guess we're even.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:14 PM on January 6, 2005


From what I've read, apple operates iTMS at a loss or break-even to help generate sales for the iPod. So it's definitely not in their interest to license FairPlay to other players. It would seem to be in their interest to license to other online music stores, though.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:16 PM on January 6, 2005


I won't buy one, mostly because of the gap between tracks on playback (think "China Cat Sunflower" (into) "I know you Rider", or any other set of tracks where you don't want a gap in the middle). Also lack of support for SHN and FLAC seem very short sighted.

Also, I am waiting for the Newton II anyway.
posted by Gankmore at 4:11 PM PST on January 6


All MP3 players have glitches and gaps between tracks, this is an artifact inherent in the lossy-encoding process. Also if you must be one of those nerdshoes who insist on storing massive lossless files on a portable music device either get a cd player or use Apple's Lossless codec.

For easy conversion from flac or shn use xACT or some Wintel-based analog (of which I am sure there are heaps).
posted by basicchannel at 4:30 PM on January 6, 2005


I'm on my second iPod and have never bought a song from iTunes so I don't worry about any issues with DRM.

And if my system crashes, I can just rerip my CD's and barely loose a step.

mrgrimm, why? What's funny about an iPod? I'm truly curious. I love mine and don't give the first damn about status, I like having nearly 5000 songs in my pocket whenever I want them.
posted by fenriq at 4:49 PM on January 6, 2005


Maybe 5% of the songs on my iPod are from iTMS, mainly because I wanted certain songs and not whole CDs and iTMS had them.

For the songs that I have bought from iTMS, I share them with folks who might be interested by burning them onto a CD. That person can then do as they please with the song.

Really, and I mean really, what is the issue?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2005


if only they'd introduce a music store with quick, inexpensive, per-song downloads and non-intrusive DRM

That's not what we wanted. We want no restrictions on how we use the music we buy.

What's funny about an iPod?

What's funny is the users suggesting that iTunes is a reason to buy the iPod. Ooh, look, it catalogs your music for you. Nobody's ever done that before. And look how it bogs down with my thousand-song strong collection! That's such a cool feature! Heck, I can't even do that with folders! And, what's this? I can buy music from one proprietary source? Sign me up!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:03 PM on January 6, 2005


basicchannel, why should there be a gap between playback because of the lossiness of the file format?

I'm resisting an iPod because of the lack of ogg support, which a hefty proportion of my music is in.
posted by kenko at 5:03 PM on January 6, 2005


Civil_Disobedient - No property comes with no restrictions on the things you buy.

You can't do whatever you want on your land if it pollutes your neighbors, even though you bought the land. Or if it kills tiger salamanders (endangered), even though nobody has seen or cares about the little buggers.

Or, closer to the point, if you walk into a bookstore and buy a book, you aren't allowed to copy it all and sell the copies.

Or if you go to Blockbuster and check out a movie they can tell you the terms under which you can watch it (back in three days or they'd tase you, not sure what they do with the caddle-prods now).

So, nothing comes with "no restrictions."

I know that by "no restrictions" you mean "no restrictions on use within the realm of what an average consumer would want", but that's a contract issue to work out with Apple through negotiation or through voting with your wallet. If Apple wanted to say "you can only listen to Britney once a week" then that's fair - if you don't like their terms you can go somewhere else. You are by no means the outright owner of the song, so we're not talking about copyright issues, we're talking about contract. If you want to listen to Ooops, I Did it Again more than once a week (I'd think that Apple was trying to protect you from yourself) then you can walk on down to Wal-Mart and buy the CD. Or buy the track from WalMart.com. Or from Real. Or...
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 5:58 PM on January 6, 2005


Civil_Disobedient - Even with CDs, tapes, 8-tracks, and (probably) vinyl, there were restrictions. You couldn't buy a machine that pressed exact copies of that old vinyl single and sell it (for profit or for costs). You couldn't record dupes onto audio tape and give them away at concerts. The sort of libertarian ideal of zero restrictions does not and has not existed in this country. It doesn't even apply to real property -- a homeowner may be restricted to particular colors, layouts, and grass types on a piece of property that he or she has paid several hundred thousand dollars for.

No, legal restrictions on use and copying are a real (and perfectly valid) form of protection of property rights (if you don't believe in legal rights in intangible property then we have a more fundamental barrier). And many people back in the Napster days recognized this and would have been content to have sensible use restrictions. However, the ease of "sharing" combined (maybe ironically) with the increased ease of tracking down the sharers thanks to logging has given the RIAA the impetus and the means to pursue its rights more effectively.

Have they done it the best way? I don't think so. It's disgraceful how little of the money we spend on music goes to artists, and it's disgraceful how expensive music is as compared to the cost of production and distribution (a fact all the more galling when applied in the digital media space, where the distribution costs are laughably small). But people are content to pay a buck a song on iTMS for the convenience of not having to buy a whole album.

Anyway, there's a simple way out of this that is repeated all the time around here: support indie music. Don't buy, borrow, or steal that Avril Lavigne CD. Or vote for congresspeople who will modify the laws of intellectual property. Or go to court and convince a judge that the law as applied is inequitable, illegal, or unconstitutional. Each of these three will be more effective than hoping for a utopian zero-restriction fair use policy that will never exist.

PS. C_D, I totally sympathize with wanting the ideal, btw, I just don't believe it exists.

PPS (on preview). Ogg support would be nice, as would a more active plugin community for iTunes, but this is still an industry in its infancy.
posted by socratic at 5:59 PM on January 6, 2005


Damnit thedevildancedlightly, I previewed twice. Heh. And I think we even managed to say exactly the same thing in roughly the same order. :)
posted by socratic at 6:00 PM on January 6, 2005


Fuck you Apple and your iPod! So if I want to play your music I have to download your program and install it? That means I'll have to have a computer! Oh yeah, and a monitor for it! And I'll need electricity to run them, plus a net connection to download! Now I need a house to put the machine in! I'm also gonna need food to stay alive, and water, plus like a chair to rest my ass on! Look at what you've forced me to do!

Or : What a fucking idiot. I suppose I should sue Warner Bros because they make DVD's, which forces me to get a DVD player if I want to watch their movies?
posted by Vaska at 6:22 PM on January 6, 2005


I didn't read this guy's suit, but is he wholly unaware that the iPod plays mp3 files? What precludes him from being able to rip an mp3 from a CD he already owns and playing it on his iPod?

And does the lawyer handling this case not have anyone under 40 working at the firm? Or is the office still using WordPerfect 5.1 on DOS 6.22?
posted by bugmuncher at 6:41 PM on January 6, 2005


is he wholly unaware that the iPod plays mp3 files?

A lot of people are, even though the iPod predates AAC files by a year.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:50 PM on January 6, 2005


" I'm on my second iPod"
Just curious, did your first one die already?
posted by 2sheets at 7:16 PM on January 6, 2005


People pay for mp3s?

Someone's gotta let these kids know about bitTorrent...
posted by SweetJesus at 7:19 PM on January 6, 2005


4,000 class action cases you can search
posted by growabrain at 7:28 PM on January 6, 2005


socratic - Totally weird! Beat ya by like 30 seconds. :) Maybe if you hadn't previewed you'd have beat me?

We'll have to work on this next time... I'll take posts with even numbers, you take the odds?

But, yeah, totally agreed.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2005


if you walk into a bookstore and buy a book, you aren't allowed to copy it all and sell the copies.

False analogy. I can, at the very least, read the book where I like, when I like, and later sell the book to someone. It's the wet-dream of content providers (be it music, books or software) to completely eliminate the First Sale Doctrine; any policy that broaches on this very basic property right gets ix-nay'ed in my ooks-bay. But you're right, it's not like anyone is under any misaprehensions when they buy an iPod. Which is precisely the reason why I'd never get one.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:19 PM on January 6, 2005


kenko: It's not exactly the lossiness that creates the gaps. It's specifically the mp3 format which lengthens the source sound a fraction of a second to the next multiple of the frame length. It's usually quite small. I don't know the exact number, but it will almost always be noticable.
posted by recursive at 8:34 PM on January 6, 2005


Civil_Disobedient - I'm familiar with that doctrine. But BY CONTRACT Apple has chosen to not "sell" you the content, but rather to rent you a license to use it. The analogy is closer to Blockbuster - you've got a license to use the product, but you have not completed a sale.

Agreed that it's their wet dream to eliminate the first sale doctrine, but it'll never happen for tangible goods. Remember the controversy when Amazon added the "buy it used!" feature (that I love, incidentally?) The book industry complained and Amazon cited to it. Maybe one day there will be an Amazon "buy it used!" for DRM products? It's a tough analogy to make.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:04 PM on January 6, 2005


Kenko - aah the gap comes from you not having the foresight to have itunes rip your seamless album as a single file (which it does quite well). Gap or no gap, albums that mix tracks together would have a just-as-annoying glitch so you're really splitting hairs in your raging against the Apple machine.
posted by basicchannel at 9:42 PM on January 6, 2005


You shouldn't have to rip it as a single file. There are better formats than MP3 that are gapless. I believe ogg (Vorbis) and MPC are, I'm not sure about AAC. (I believe you can get gapless playback with AAC if you encode with Nero.) However very few portables support Vorbis (aside from iRiver) and none support MPC. The reason why portables don't support all formats is licensing reasons and also some formats are harder on the processor than others.

Gankmore: There are portables that support FLAC, but I can't think of any names off the top of my head.

At Hydrogenaudio you can talk to the audio codec freaks who know the ins and outs of every single compression scheme out there.

Today people use MP3 only because everything supports it and it is "good enough". (LAME, the open-source MP3 encoder, is considered the best.) The people at Hydrogenaudio conduct double-blind listening tests every so often and MPC, Vorbis, AAC handily beat MP3 across the broad. MPC is supposed to be transparent at higher bitrates (i.e., you can't distinguish it from the source.) Vorbis and AAC dominate at low bitrates, and even WMA/Real do better than standard MP3 in that range. Mp3pro is good for low bitrates but nobody seems to be using it.

AAC has dozens of different implementations, most of which are proprietary. Supporting Vorbis doesn't incur licensing fees so we might see more of those in the future. AAC seems to be the only format with a future as there are dozens of developers at Apple, Nero, etc. working full-time on it. There are maybe less than three people working on Vorbis or MPC at any given time.
posted by aerify at 10:40 PM on January 6, 2005


AWESOME!!! more litigation!
posted by virga at 11:23 PM on January 6, 2005


"Good enough" is precisely the point. You don't see too many folks with portable SACD players.

The hand-wringing over ogg, matroska, flac, shorten, blah, blah and blah are typical of the open source, alterna-browser, lunix-loving, sweaty-palmed nerd crowd who have lost all touch with reasonable folk who (gasp!) just want to listen to music rather than thinking about transcoding to the right version of the proper mpeg1l3id3v2.983a.23 codec which is compatible with their given portable media device**.

**only available in the Continental United States***

***Especially not Finland.
posted by basicchannel at 11:46 PM on January 6, 2005


I'm a happy Neuros user (I started ripping to vorbis long before the iPod came out, hopefully flac support comes soon). My roomate is a happy iPod user. We are all happy.

iPod clearly doesn't have a monopoly, even in the Microsoft sense, so I don't see the point of this lawsuit.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:01 AM on January 7, 2005


iTunes seems to be running just as fast with my 26,455 songs (144GB) as with 100. If you have a LOT of smart playlists that have wide scope it will take longer to start up, but I think that you accidentally recycled some iPhoto complaints to manufacture your iTunes BS, Civil_D. Glad to see that you're preaching the truth.
posted by n9 at 5:31 AM on January 7, 2005


Glad to see that you're preaching the truth.

Oh yes, please tell me all about the BS, n9. [cue whining: "Oh yeah, well it's fine on my computer!"]
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:32 AM on January 7, 2005


That article is from two years ago... I don't see how it's relevant.
posted by Jart at 7:22 AM on January 7, 2005


That guy notes that iTunes slows at 15,000+ songs, not 1,000 (which is what you said) That was a while back, too, at least one major version of iTunes and before there was a Windows version at all. Also, it is well known that iTunes doesn't slow down unless you have lots of wide-scope smart playlists, and even then the slowdown is at startup only. Like I said. Color me unconvinced that you have any experience with your copy slowing with 1000 songs, oh wait, cue whining "it doesn't work right on MY computer."

But please feel free to spout off some more, CD, maybe you'll eventually win and reality will come around to your POV.
posted by n9 at 8:11 AM on January 7, 2005


a homeowner may be restricted to particular colors, layouts, and grass types on a piece of property that he or she has paid several hundred thousand dollars for.

Blows me away that:
1) anyone is actually foolish enough to buy a house in a community that dictates what colour you can paint your house, what kind of car you can park in the drive way, and what kind of flowers you can plant
2) this is actually considered a selling feature which can command a premium.

I guess these are the same people buying music they can't back up or freely redistribute ala First Sale and TV feeds they can't time shift.
posted by Mitheral at 8:33 AM on January 7, 2005


maybe you'll eventually win and reality will come around to your POV

No, you're right, iTunes is perfect.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2005


And for those of you whose reality differs from the zealots like n9, I recommend you try EphPod as an alternative. It doesn't have the rather irritating default tendency to rename your entire MP3 collection.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2005


basicchannel: The hand-wringing over ogg, matroska, flac, shorten, blah, blah and blah are typical of the open source, alterna-browser, lunix-loving, sweaty-palmed nerd crowd who have lost all touch with reasonable folk who (gasp!) just want to listen to music rather than thinking about transcoding to the right version of the proper mpeg1l3id3v2.983a.23 codec which is compatible with their given portable media device**.

Wow, what's with all the hatred? And the fact that you even knew the names shorten, matroska, etc. shows you have a passing familiarity with the subject.

While there are "zealots" like you say everywhere (Linux, open-source, Mac) - most of those "sweaty-palmed nerd crowd" you speak of work with the stuff because it's fun. You shouldn't criticize others just because they like to do things you don't. I certainly wouldn't FORCE anybody to use an alternative browser, alternative audio codec, etc., but if they are interested in it, I would be glad to show them the ropes.
posted by aerify at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2005


aerify: Just good-natured ribbing... of course I'm familiar with those things, I'm one those types (I'm using Firefox on a Mac)... which leaves me in a place to point out the absurdities that exist in the aforementioned cults of technology.
posted by basicchannel at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2005


bah i got a archos gemini 400 for christmas. It plays mp3's and divx files, has a built in 3d game engine, gets longer battery life, rips photos and mp3's off compact flash cards. Is almost the same size, lets me output my movies to a tv with a standard cable, 20 gig drive, AND its only 30 - 40 bucks more than an ipod.... that is why i laugh at ipod users.
posted by sourbrew at 4:40 PM on January 8, 2005


- although i will admit that it took me like 3 days to figure out that i had to rencode divx files as CBR instead of VBR for audio in order to prevent audio lag..... although i didn't copy my divx files using their provided software which would have done it automatically..... furthermore the archos lets you plug it up with a usb cable and windows treats it just like an expansion drive.... when i said its only 30 or 40 bucks more i meant the ipod mini too... ipod's suck, overpriced, shady features... and technologically passe.... their new photo ipod isn't even half what my archos is.....
posted by sourbrew at 4:43 PM on January 8, 2005


"isn't even half wht my archos is"

I test drove a coworkers gemini 400 and I'll tell you, you're right, the iPod is less than half as complex, less than half as frustrating and it takes less than half the amount of time to get music onto it, listen to it and to manage what is there as the Archos. I mean if you want all those features at the expense of having a quality UI and good design, then by all means (and I can certainly understand the reasoning.) My bike doesn't have full suspenstion, knobby tires or 21 gears like this huffy I saw at ToysRUs did and my bike's saddle cost as much as the whole Huffy, but my bike is a better bike by all measures: faster, sturdier and more of a joy to use and I couldn't feel better about owning it instead of the huffy.
posted by n9 at 4:54 PM on January 8, 2005


and, froogle shows that the gemini 400 bottoms out at $357, which is $100 more than the mini.
posted by n9 at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2005


Yes i can't deny that the UI on the archos is frustrating at first, toms hardware points that out in the link above.... I've had it 2 weeks now, used it maybe 9 hours... the learning curve is about 2 hours of use.... and that includes listening time so not really 2 hours more like 15 minutes.... further more im not really sure how you had problems copying files on to it. On a windows machine when you plug in the usb cable it pops up as an expansion drive, you drag your files to the music folder and voila. Now if you don't know where your mp3's are and rely on media player/i tunes to keep track of them then i can see why you might have had an issue, but they include plugins for such technodolts on the player.
posted by sourbrew at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2005


yeah i was wrong about the mini price too.... still i <3 my archos and everyone i know who sees it thinks its cooler than sliced bread.
posted by sourbrew at 5:04 PM on January 8, 2005


you should read the toms hardware link they do an excellent job of tooting the archo's horn
posted by sourbrew at 5:05 PM on January 8, 2005


The unit does not come with a driver, because it's recognized by Windows as an external hard disk. The interface is close to that of Windows, complete with icons, a tree structure and menus. Classifying and storing files is easy using the two-panel browser for copying, moving and renaming. The controls have simple ergonomics, with specific actions assigned to the three bottom buttons. There's a slight learning curve, but once you are used to the controls, navigation is quite a bit easier than on a standard player. The menu is organized very logically using icons representing possible activities: music, photos, video, recording and games.

- from the tom's hardware review
posted by sourbrew at 5:06 PM on January 8, 2005


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