Apple iTunes DRM Free Tracks Contain User Data

It’s great that Apple is starting to sell DRM free music, right? Well, you might want to think again, because, apparently, the tracks contain data embedded data that contains the full name and account information, including e-mail address, of who bought them. That’s right, full name and account information of who bought them. This data has always been there, but before, no one could share the DRM tunes, now they can share the tunes with anyone, and that data could be tracked back to the person, or persons, who bought it, and, it could also be spoofed by someone on the internet. Your data could be embedded in a music file and dropped on a peer to peer network for the whole world to share, and for the suit happy music labels to see. Playlistmag.com referred to it as Watermarked iTunes files.

The big question, of course, is what might Apple do with this information? Because it can be spoofed, it’s not exactly the best way to determine who is sharing music, and in any case, tracing a link back such as this would leave a copyright holder in a gray area. Embedded data or not, the mere presence of the data in a file found on a share is not an unassailable indicator of copyright infringement.

That said, it would be trivial for iTunes to report back to Apple, indicating that “Joe User” has M4As on this hard drive belonging to “Jane Userette,” or even “two other users.” This is not to say that Apple is going to get into the copyright enforcement business. What Apple and indeed the record labels want to watch closely is: will one user buy music for his five close friends? The entertainment industry is obsessed with the idea of “casual piracy,” or the occasional sharing of content between friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if some data was being analyzed in aggregate, although Apple’s current privacy policy does not appear to allow for this. As with the dust-up over the mini-store, Apple should clarify what this embedded data is used for. Source: Apple hides account info in DRM-free music, too

While I don’t think iTunes users would buy music from the iTunes store to share on P2P networks, someone could, and that someone could change the data to anyone they wanted to. I bet there are files with Steve Jobs email address in them online right now. I also bet there will be cleaners created soon to clean the data, but, this does make you wonder what Apple will and could do with it.

In other Apple news, it was reported that iTunes version 7.2 had broken the ability to play Mp3′s that had been ripped from music purchased from the iTunes store. Most users had figured out that you could buy songs from the iTunes store, burn them to CD and then rip them to MP3 to get rid of the Fairplay DRM. The EFF had reported that the upgrade to version 7.2 of iTunes had broken this, but now, according to a post on Playlistmag.com, it appears it is merely a bug and you can bypass it by recreating your iTunes music library.

Yesterday, I noted that iTunes 7.2 had trouble syncing certain MP3 files to an iPod. It appears that this is a bug.

Specifically, if you burn a playlist of iTunes? protected music to a CD in iTunes 7.2 and then rip that CD in the MP3 format (a trick people often use to remove the tracks? copy protection), those MP3 tracks won?t copy to an [tag]iPod[/tag]. Try, and you?ll be told that the tracks are incompatible with the iPod.

The bug appears to take the form of some problem with the iTunes music library, causing these specific tracks to be deemed incompatible with the iPod. You can put things right by recreating your iTunes library. Source: More on iTunes 7.2 and MP3s

This knowledge base article from Apple will walk you through recreating your iTunes library, and this one, iTunes: How to backup and restore playlists, will show you how to backup and restore your playlists.