Apple iTunes has stopped including DRM in the music they sell. So now there is nothing stopping an evil pirate posting his tracks to a P2P network, allowing his music files to be downloaded and enjoyed for free by millions of people who haven’t paid the copyright holder a penny.
But isn’t quite simple: the unprotected music files contain a “watermark” that identifies who bought the track. So, if copyright investigators find in a P2P network a file with your name on it, they’ll know that you are a pirate!!
No doubt some people admire Apple for this deft handling of the piracy problem. But this system is infringing on the privacy of every iTunes customer. The Guardian newspaper reported on this:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an organization that campaigns for robust online privacy standards. They are appalled at Apple’s irresponsible behaviour. EFF spokesman Fred Lohmann said “There’s absolutely no reason that it had to be embedded, unencrypted and in the clear. Some of the privacy problems, in light of this, is that anyone who steals an iPod that includes purchased iTunes music will now have the name and email address of its rightful owner.”
And there’s another potential problem: if that thief posts your files to a P2P network and the copyright cops swoop, you will be identified as the pirate. And I’m pretty sure they hang pirates…