iTunes Plus: Is DRM dead, finally?

Today, while I was looking through my e-mails, I realized that one from the Apple iTunes Store had been sitting unread for a couple of days in my inbox. I usually don’t pay much attention to this kind of e-mails but I was bored enough to go and give it a try.

The e-mail was the announcement on the availability of iTunes Plus for the Spanish iTunes Store. I was so curious that I saw myself firing iTunes on Mac OS X up even before I finished on reading the e-mail. I looked around a little bit but wasn’t able to find any trace of any 1,29€ songs, anywhere. I searched for Paul McCartney, Coldplay and the like, but all I could find were the traditional 0,99€ songs. I felt disappointed, but after a closer look, I could find an iTunes Plus link on the Quick Links section on the main page, so badly placed to even not realize it is there.

I decided to give it a chance, so I clicked on the link. Next, I was presented with the typical incomprehensible use license, clicked Accept and jumped in to search for some music, specifically music from Enigma. I could see that all the songs listed 1,29€ under the price column plus a “+” (plus) sign besides it. I double clicked on “Return to Innocence” in order to hear a preview but iTunes was stuck for so long trying to connect to the server that I finally gave up and clicked on Cancel. I felt lucky so I clicked on the Purchase button. In general, the purchase process is identical to the one used by DRM-protected iTunes Store, except that it took unusually longer to complete. I don’t know the exact reasons for this. It could be because of iTunes Plus Store uses different back-ends servers that are not scaled up well enough for the demand of service, could be something else. In any case, I felt really happy when I told iTunes to display the file on Finder and saw the extension was “.m4a” instead of “.m4p” (typical of DRM-protected songs). The sound quality seems pretty good at 256kbps in AAC digital format and since MPlayer, Rhythmbox and many other open source, free players can play unprotected AAC songs with no trouble at all, it means this is big step forward in the right direction towards a DRM-free world (at least in the music world).

It was about time for the music industry to realize that DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) is not the answer. Finally!

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