DRM-Free Doesn't Equal License Free

Last week Apple released iTunes Plus. Which is a higher quality download with no DRM for $1.29 US. However many people in the blogo-sphere have interpreted DRM-Free as being privacy in your purchase. However this is totally wrong way of looking at DRM:

Digital rights management (DRM) is an umbrella term referring to technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to or usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures, which refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design.

In fact DRM-Free is exactly what it means you are free to do with the song what you like but your purchase is still registered as being your purchase. A better way to think of Apple iTunes Plus program is the same way you think of the DMV, you are free to use your car however you want, no body is restricting you from loaning your car to your friend or where you can drive it and how far. Even though your car is your property free and clear of any rules, you still have to license the car, and register the VIN with the DMV. Also the license plate on the car is only checked if you are committing a crime. In the same respects Apple is no longer telling you how many times you can burn your song, or how many iPods it can be placed on, or who you can lend the song too, but the registration of the song still needs to be licensed with iTunes. They are only going to check the license if you are committing a crime with the song such as violating the EULA, which I am pretty sure includes posting to a P2P site.

So before everybody starts getting hot under the collar about your information showing up in the song you licensed from iTunes and EMI, just sit back and think for a second, about how much this doesn't effect you. Essentially the song is there for you to share with all your friends just like a CD or anything else, however if you start posting the song publicly which is the same as playing a CD in a large venue you have violated the license agreement of your purchase and you should pay the price.

I personally congratulate Apple for taking this critical step for having a DRM free world.

Nick Berardi

Entrepreneur, Microsoft MVP, ASPInsider, co-founder and CTO of @CaddioApp, Father, and @SeriouslyOpen host