The cult of Mac

The cult of Mac: Dave Winer has noticed that some some people don’t quite understand my earlier post.

Strange thing, we Mac users are. As I’ve said here before, I purchased my first Mac in April, 1984, and have purchased hundreds since then. Everyone who works at Hammock Publishing (except for one) has at least one Mac they use for work and all who have been there over a year own an iPod. (I am happy for people to have iTunes on their work computers, but our backup system does not include backing up their personal files.)

Mac people, listen up: Don’t blame the customer when something Apple does screws up. Apple has decided to go into the consumer electronics business with the iPod/iTunes line. The 27 million iPods out there aren’t all owned by people who know what the word “backup” means, so don’t call someone stupid because they don’t have a disaster recovery plan for their iPod. If they purchase music that must be played on one of five devices that Apple “authorizes,” then the relationship between Apple and the listener does not end at the time of purchase. As long as I can only play that music on a device Apple controls via authorization, Apple should be responsible for enabling me to continue enjoying it if a device they own “eats” it.

How hard is it to understand that Apple added DRM and the whole “authorization” gimmick to convince the record labels that it’s okay to distribute music through the iTunes distribution channel? My advice (and that’s all it is) was for those who choose to purchase music from the iTunes Store to do that thing which Apple makes it easy for you to do: Burn the music to a CD that will strip out both the DRM and the requirement to play the tune on an Apple-authorized device.

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  • Phil Aaronson

    It would be GREAT if Apple *could* issue an additional copy if it’s lost. I totally agree, it would be the right thing for the consumer. Unfortunately Apple cannot. At least not now. This isn’t about blind Apple luv. We as consumers, have, with very few exceptions, never been able to purchase the rights to the music. When we bought a CD, or an iTunes track, or a vinyl album all we were purchasing was a license for that copy, and that copy only. Break it, lose it, CD player eats it, your dog chews on it and the expectation has always been: buy another one. Except apparently with iTunes as you point out.

    And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe Cringley’s prediction of an Apple “media storage locker” will come true in large part because they see this need. But to work around the license limitations, Apple would need to store a personal copy of all your songs for you, and that’s not a trivial amount of disk space. But it is a good idea, and heck I’d use it. Not sure how much I’d want to pay for it, but for free, I’d definitely use it.

  • Scott McNulty

    Rex,

    I didn’t call anyone stupid in my post on TUAW, I was merely pointing out that the problem your friend encountered wouldn’t have been a problem if they backed up their data. And if they don’t back up their music, I imagine they don’t back anything else up… so what happens to all their other documents when a hard drive fails? I would wager they have stuff on their drives that is more important to them than AAC’s, but that is conjecture on my part.

    Oh, and if your friend had her music in her iPod, the iPod acted as a backup, though Apple doesn’t make it easy to get your music OFF of the iPod. Perhaps it would be wise of Apple to incorporate a feature into iTunes that would allow you to sync your library from your iPod TO an iTMS authorized Mac (or PC). That would be a win, win for everyone (well, not for people who don’t own iPods) in that you would still be forced to use the iPod, but if your machine’s hard drive failed you need not worry because it is on your ‘back up hard drive,’ (your iPod).

    Anyway, feel free to get in contact with me if your friend’s AAC’s are locked on her iPod and you need instructions on how to get at them.

  • rex

    Thanks, Scott.

  • rex

    Also, Scott. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean you said someone was stupid. However, this guy did.

  • Scott

    Damn straight I called her stupid. Mean of me huh? I must be in the holiday spirit. Thank god for 4 day weekends. 🙂 I should probably apologize for that, she’s probably a nice person and probably feels bad enough over losing her music.

    Oddly enough we have the same advice for people buying music from iTunes, or any other music store (well, unless you are just renting the music I guess).

    If you have data you care about on your computer, you should find some way to back it up. If my hard disk fails tomorrow and I lose my purchased music, or my source code, or my email, or my documents, it’s not Apples fault, it’s not Microsofts fault. It’s my own stupid fault. iTunes provides a means for backing up a large number of your purchased songs, you can burn them to a data CD. It’s not anymore complicated than burning an audio cd. If they don’t all fit on one, do two.

    More than a few of my friends have had the same kinds of vanishing music problems with their iPods that DW had. That sucks, and Apple should fix that or provide a means for recovering the music. (of course if you’ve burned them to a data CD you can just copy them back to your HD). I haven’t had those problems with my Shuffle, but it’s a horse of a different color. The way the Shuffle works, IMO, is a much better way for iTunes to deal with an iPod.

  • Alfredo Octavio

    part of the problem is that what Dave and you are saying is quite different. Dave refuses to admit iTunes has any merit, while you criticize what is wrong with it (the DRM) and point out what you should do about it. Could Apple do more? Yes, but so could the other stores and none of them do this… Why? My bet is in the music industry.

  • Alfredo Octavio

    By the way, if you buy a CD and it gets destroyed… Would you expect the store to give you another one? This is a trick of the music industry where they change whether they are selling you the medium or the music at their convenience…

  • Stewart

    You’re not buying the file, you’re buying a license to the content of the file, as the file is not transferable and the license is perpetual and as Apple manages the contract between the licensee and the user through an interface that shows a transaction for the license, i.e proof of purchase, and as Apple can recind the license for any track downloaded and used via iTunes, I believe Apple has a duty to allow you to access any of the content previously licensed.

  • Histrionic

    Not to be a fanboy or anything, I would point out that Apple does provide a way to do backups, but it requires a .Mac subscription for complete functionality. I’m not sure what it’ll do without the subscription. Apple Backup is provided as part of .Mac membership(see <http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/apple/backup.html> for more details), but you’d still need to install and use it.

    Anyway, Backup does apparently provide a way to automagically back up your purchased music.

    That said, in my — what, 5-6 years? — iTunes use, even with two different main computers and three iPod models, I’ve not had occasion to need this. (Knock on wood.) However, I also am a computer user and know to back up my data, and have my iTunes data (along with a lot of other important stuff) on a mirrored RAID for safety to begin with.