It seems every new version of iTunes removes some feature in the interest of Apple’s suppliers. Are Apple’s customers filing bug reports saying “please make your program not work with my other programs” and “please let me do less with my music”? Is DRM a dealbreaker for the music industry? If people demanded that their music work with every music player, would the music industry respond by stopping production and sales of music?
Here’s my list of features that have been removed from iTunes:
- Removes support for people who browse their music across subnets. (Workaround)
- Lowered the number of times you can burn a playlist with iTMS music from 10 to 7. They did this post facto, which is a snobby way of saying that Apple changed the deal after they got your money. People paid them for a song that could be burned 10 times, and Apple changed that to 7 after they had people’s money. Not to get too geeky (in a post on DRM and copyright? OK, too late) but this Star Wars quote seems appropriate:
I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.
- Removes Hymn 0.6.1 compatibility. Hymn 0.6.1 left the Apple ID in songs downloaded from the iTunes Music Store to encourage people not to share music (since it could be traced back to them).
Apple had a choice to make: they could ignore this and let people de-cripple their music onymously or they could lock out music that had been de-crippled but could be tracked back to the owner. If they chose the latter there were two possible outcomes. The first was that the people who had broken every bit of DRM to date wouldn’t be able to remove an ID they were purposefully leaving in and Hymn would stop being able to de-cripple music, or people would start sharing de-crippled iTMS songs anonymously. Guess which Apple chose and guess what happened.
- Removes iPod Download compatibility. (More on this and a workaround)
- Limit to the number of people who can access iTunes shared music each day.
- Removes JHymn 0.6.3 compatibility.
As a slight aside, I no longer have faith that people will recognize that DRM is harming them. I made a post over at PVRblog about TiVo Desktop 2.1, which goes to great lengths to tell people how they should watch their TiVoToGo files. If you look through the comments you’ll see lots of people who buy the line that they need to be protected from themselves, and that the media companies would walk away from a US$660 million market if it weren’t for DRM.
Not that DRM was ever a market issue, but I don’t believe consumers will stand up and ask why the music they pay for won’t play in an iPod and a Rio. I haven’t given up the copyfight, but the general public believes the lie that Big Copyright gets to tell companies and people what they can and can’t do. It depresses me when I think about all the great works that will be lost or never created. Anyway, leave any features lost in iTunes upgrades that I missed in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.