Apple Puts Personal Data In DRM-Free Tracks

Apple Puts Personal Data In DRM-Free TracksApple’s iTunes has made a grand fanfare of offering digital rights management (DRM) free songs from EMI, which the storesells at a premium price. But what they haven’t told you is that those tracks contain data about the person who purchases them, including e-mail address.   The first tracks, by majorartists such as Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Frank Sinatra, went on sale on Wednesday. With a higher sound quality of 256 kbps, rather than the regular 128 kbps, they retail at $1.29 each, instead of 99cents for tracks covered by DRM.   Apple uses the Fairplay technology for its digital rights management, although it can supposedly be bypassed by burning the downloaded tracks to CD thentransferring them to another format, such as mp3.   But it’s the tracks without DRM that are causing concern. New site Ars Technica discoveredthe embedded information, which includes the purchaser’s name, e-mail and account information (this information is included on tracks with DRM, too).   The speculation is that thisinformation can discourage file sharing on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, but an added worry is that this information could easily be spoofed by anyone with experience, which could lead to unfortunatelegal ramifications for innocent folk.   The story has already brought mixed comment from users. Some find no problem with it, seeing it as no problem unless people share music with friends– what the music industry calls “casual piracy” – while others are outraged. One commented,   “Isn’t that even worse than DRM? Sure, I can move it, and do what Iwant with it, but it tracks me? Thanks, but no thanks Jobs.”   However, Apple’s privacy policy would seem not to permit the sharing of this data with record companies   Applehas had no comment on the revelation, so no one yet knows what uses Apple plans for this personal data. It’s not yet known just how deeply the data is embedded in each track, whether it’spart of the metadata, the listing of album and artist, or buried further down. Some users have said that it will probably only be a few days before someone develops a program to strip out thispersonal data.

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