When they said that this would be impractical, they weren’t kidding. Thanks to Dr. Davis for pointing out that transfering an iTunes song is probably legal. Also, thanks to everyone who had something nice to say about me. I read every comment on this site, but because I was worried about possible legal ramifications I hesitated to respond. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my earlier attempt to rid me of this song.
The short version is that you need to give someone your account. I’ve disassociated my credit card info with my account by using a prepaid credit card, changed the email address and password, and emailed the Apple ID, password and file to Keith Elder, the buyer and deauthorized my computer.
The Long Version
I started by trying to get Apple to help me out. I wasn’t expecting much, so I didn’t press the issue too far. I called AppleCare and waited 8 minutes, just like the recording said. Neil answers and says that he can answer iTMS questions. My lucky day!
We try to get the iTunes serial number, and discover there isn’t one. I give him my OS X serial number and he calls me by name, which creeps me out slightly less than when Pizza Hut asked if I’d like to order another pepperoni, onion and pepper pizza. I know you have scary demographic info in your CRM database, you don’t need to rub my nose in it.
Our paraphrased conversation:
Me: “I bought a song with one account and want to give it to a friend”
Him: “No, you can’t do that. Can you give him the mp3?”
Me: “Actually it’s an AAC and it won’t play on his system”
Him: “There’s no way you can transfer a song from one account to another.”
Jean Luc: “Sounds like a design flaw” (I have Star Trek playing on the TiVo in the background. He seriously said that just after Neil said I couldn’t do the transfer.)
So my next method of transfer involves giving Keith my account. The first step is to change the email address to something at hotelling.net and the password to something other than mine. Having your own domainname makes this fairly easy, although it’s not exactly hard to come up with a free email address these days.
I then try to delete my credit card number. This proves tricky, because you can’t delete your credit card number, you can only replace it with a valid and active number. I try the standby Visa number 4111 1111 1111 1111 (it works with the Luhn formula but it’s not a real card) and Apple won’t take that for an answer.
At this point I figure the only way to give Keith my account without giving him my card is to call my credit card company and have them change the number. I call them up, but get cold feet before I reach a live human being.
I start googling for something that I heard about a few years ago, prepaid credit cards at 7-11. Emboldened by the success, I start to find prepaid credit cards are still around, even available locally. I guess the credit part of the term credit card, the company refers to them as “Prepaid MasterCard Cards.”
I run to CVS and buy my first prepaid MasterCard, paying for it with my real credit card. The price of pseudo-anonymity is steep though, $9.95 for the card with a minimum initial balance for $20, turning my $1.05 iTunes investment into a pricey $31 expenditure. I should be able to get the $20 back out of the card assuming Keith doesn’t buy 20 iTunes the moment he gets my email. [Update 2003-09-10 8:23 AM – I was able to spend $19 of the $20 on a gift to the EFF, not sure what happened to that other $1]
In order to use the card right away I need to put a bunch of information into their website. Name, address, phone number. I give them a fake last name and the street address 123 Fake St. (from the Simpsons). For my phone number I give them 212-479-7990. They then tell me to call up a toll free number to get my activated card number.
I call, and they have me verify all my information. I’m not sure if you realize this, but Fake St. is pronounced “Fah-kee.” It’s a good thing I put some thought into my fake information, otherwise they would have tripped me up. The company did want to know my social security number – you know, the thing that is legally never supposed to be used for identification. I’m pretty sure they don’t verify the information anyway.
They say that my card will be delivered in 10 business days, though I highly doubt that.
They also say that I will have to wait an hour before I can use it for online purchases, due to some system maintenance. After hanging up the phone I immediately go into iTunes and get told my card is invalid. So I wait an hour (more or less) and try putting it into iTunes again, resulting in the same message. I feel a vague sense of $29.95 being wasted, but give it another 10 minutes (to finish up Law & Order on the TiVo). I try again and success!
So now I have an account that doesn’t put my credit card at risk, not that I don’t trust Keith or anything.
I’ve deauthorized my computer, sent Keith the information and file. He can play the Double Dutch Bus as well as the other songs that he purchased from the iTunes Music Store. His computer is now authorized on his old account and the new account that he received from me.
How might this be useful? After all, the song only cost 99 cents. One example I saw listed was if someone had spent an enormous amount of money on iTunes, and needed to recoup some of that expense. Another example is if someone inherited a collection. While the process was impractical, I can certainly see someone doing it for a collection of several thousand songs. If digital distribution is the future of music it needs to start acting like it.
I think that the iTunes Music Store is the best legal download service so far. Judging from the comments I’ve seen, most people want to own their music, just like Jobs said. Apartment dwellers know that they won’t get any money out of their monthly payments, it’s important for iTunes users to know where they stand.
The irony here is that the main advantage of the iTunes Music Store is that you can pick and choose the exact songs that you want, while the used market would consist entirely entire collections. Imagine a used CD store where you had to sell your entire collection just to rid yourself of that MC Hammer CD that seemed like such a good idea at the time. You can’t sell your song but you can sell your account.
I’m amazed that so many people were interested in this issue, and I hope that people “buying” iTunes Music now know where they stand. If you don’t like the way Apple is doing things, let them know.