Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I just downloaded iTunes 4, set up my .mac account for the music shop and started browsing around the music shop. Ooo, I don't have that Orb CD, "click", I wonder if they have.... "click"... "downloading..." "hey..." "click".

Now maybe I'm not a good sample, but iTunes 4 is to music downloads what iPod was to mp3 players. Of course you have to download iPod patch to play the AAC protected music format and you are not downloading sharable mp3's.

My little foray into the DRM'ed music space is really an experiment on myself to see if a proprietary system can make the experience compelling enough to make people say, "screw it, I'm going to use DRM." So far, the experience for me is that actually quickly finding clean copies of music I'm looking for and having it seamlessly arrive in my iPod is worth the $.99/song they are charging and the fact that it's protected. THAT'S SCARY. It's the sucking sound of Hollywood you're hearing here... hmm...

Anyway, I'm going to play around with it a bit more before I decide for sure whether this is a killer service, but I just thought I'd post this urgent news so you could try it for yourself. ;-p

Update: Not nearly as many songs that I want as I initially imagined. They're like trying to get my to buy the Village People and stuff... Search seems broken -- it gives me errors. Keeps trying to tell me I can't use the service because I'm in Japan -- I keep trying to trick it into thinking I'm in the US. a good roundup on Marc Canter's site.

Update 2: BAAAAD news. So I bought a bunch of albums and songs and was happily downloading them thinking about how much money I had just spent. Then. "There was a problem with Music Store. Please try again later." I still have the songs I've downloaded and they are there, but all of the stuff that was in the queue to be downloaded. Gone. "click" "You already have a copy of this dumbass, do you want to buy it again?"... fill out bug report asking whether I can reinstate the downloads or check whether I've been billed. "thank you for your bug report. We can will not respond to this request directly, but we appreciate your dumbass suggestions..." shit... Anyway, I will make sure I check my credit card bill next month. Until then, I will and not queue up downloads.

Update 3: When I restarted iTunes it started download all of the music I bought. phew...


Can you order prints from iPhoto in Japan?

We still cannot do it in France, i don't understand why.

It would be nice to have some minimum explanation for why these services are "US only".

Eh Apple, i want to order prints, i want to order prints! :->

What's more, there's a bug in the Music Store : i cannot find my favorite band! ;->

By the way, can someone give a pointer to a webpage explaining the DRMs in iTunes4/AAC ? I can't find anything.

At the moment, i have the feeling that there's no real protection.

The official policy is that it's not supposed to work overseas. Paolo has the same problem.

No iPhoto printing service in Japan yet.

Yeah. I have a SF credit card that I'm using for a US billing address which seems to work after you are told that you can't use the service from outside Japan. ;-)

Yeah I don't see any real DRM going on (though I haven't downloaded anything myself yet, being in Canada...).

It seems Apple is "covering it's ass" purely on the application level. The fact that the songs are encoded in AAC is pretty thin "protection" since you can reconvert them to MP3 if you really want to "share them". Same for the "authorise/deauthorise" scheme... it's thin. I mean, back it up CD? "Allo Karl, here is a CD full of songs for you..."

Hats off to Apple, but I'll hate to see the day when the big 5 pull the plug when everyone realises there's no real protection going on. (Unless I am gravely mistaken... but a full-on DRM must be done on the hardware/OS level, no?)

Either way, hurray for AAC (mpeg-4)! better quality! I'm off to re-rip my entire CD collection... :D

Boris. The AAC Audio File is "(protected)". I don't know enough to convert them to mp3. I can't seem to open the AAC file with any of the sound software I have other than the new QT and iTunes. Hmm... I guess I should go surf around for how to open a protected AAC file...

Maybe you cannot open the file with other sound software because they don't recognize AAC at all.. Or is it that the file is indeed protected?

Have you noticed that iTunes 4 is a great exemple of a specialized Web browser (like Watson and Sherlock), enhanced with GUI elements that greatly facilitate the navigation threw albums, artists, and make the whole experience very pleasant and natural.

9th of May apprently for international users to be able to use the music store. i got a call from apple after i published a rather scathing piece on my blog about it... :D

Admittedly BIAS'd (I work for BIAS 8-) but Peak 3.21 (the current latest shipping version) will open and play the .m4p files you download from the Apple music store (you'll need QT 6.2 too).

In fact it looks like you could then do pretty much anything you want with them. To check I just converted one to an AIFF file. Of course since AAC is a lossy encoding format moving to an uncompressed format isn't going to 'get you anything'.

Now I'll just wait for the call from Apple suggesting we fix some bugs in Peak 8-)

Joi: But you have it open in iTunes! Just change your encoder setting (in Preferences/Importing) to Mp3 and go (or maybe it's a two step process)...

That point is moot though, since AAC is better quality. You can send me any AAC files you buy and I can listen to them as well... And store them in my Library. And burn them to CD, and send them along to anyone else... Just right click on any track and select "Show song file".. There it is in the Finder, ready to be manhandled! =)

So far, from what i can see, there's no sign of DRM...

I did not download the update since all my billing addresses are here in Japan so I'm looking forward to international availability. Its easy to whine and moan that they should have done this in the first place, but considering the royalty managment issues, I'd guess they figured its better to get it going first and figure that part out later.

As for DRM, just where is this sucking sound you speak of? Keep up the headlines and ill informed catch phrases like this and soon you'll be ready to write for slashdot. ^_^ J/K

Aha! Voila:

So there IS some kind of actual software protection going on. Gah. :\ It doesn't hinder my usage, mind you... Hmmm.

About US only: anyone tried putting country: USA in their card details? Unless a transaction screws up there's a very good chance that none of the personal card details are ever verified, neither before nor after.

About DRM: whatever happens under the hood, there's always going to be Audio Hijack grabbing the sound before it reaches the speakers. This means that any DRM system aiming to work on a general purpose computer are doomed to fail (yes, I am aware of Palladium, I would not consider it as a general purpose computer at present). I can live with a potential DA-AD conversion.

But it would be foolish to aim for unbreakable. For the record industry, anything is better than now. A platform with 3% market share is a fairly low-risk experiment.


I love Audio Hijack Pro! But it doesn't to a DA-AD conversion, it keeps it all digital (that's what's so great...). The problem here is the double encoding in lossy formats (original->AAC -> MP3). However, I bought some music, then used Audio Hijack Pro to convert it to MP3 with no problems, the sound came out just fine to my ears.


oh, well even better if there's no conversion. Thanks for clarifying.

But I believe it also does AIFF. So given that iTunes Music allows burning proper CDs which are IAFF based AFAIK, AAC->AIFF cannot be that bad.

People say ripping those CDs into MP3 aftwards creates bad sounding music files. This is probably just a "welcome" side-effect of lossy compression (AAC), expansion (AIFF), again lossy compression (MP3). Like making a JPEG a TIFF, then again making it a JPEG. You're losing at least twice in the process.


I purchased a song from itunes on a windows2000 pc at work. when i got home to my winME pc, i couldn't play the cd. i could only use it on a regular cd player UNTIL...

...i opened nero burning rom. nero was able to read the cd. IT EVEN PLAYED IT. yeah, i was excited :) i burned a copy of the cd and was able to play the copy on any of my pc's even though none of them have itunes. i could have also made a mp3, wav, or whatever cd before burning but i just chose to make an audio cd for now just see if it would work.

one thing i noticed is that my creative cd player could play the original cd that i burned from the itunes machine but my plextor could not. the plextor did play the copied cd though. go figure.

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Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: The sucking sound of DRM - iTunes 4.

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iTunes4 from ********.NET 06. BLOG
April 29, 2003 11:29 AM

 新しいiTunes4とiPodがリリースされた。新しい機能としては、Rendezvousを利用した同一ネットワーク上での音楽を共有、ACC(MPEG-4 Audio)対応、アルバムジャケット表示、DVDへライブラリをア... Read More

The iTunes Music Store from JD's New Media Musings
April 29, 2003 2:13 PM

Here's more on Apple's new iTunes Music Store. The DRM issues are interesting here. The page says: In a nutshell, you can play your music on up to three computers, enjoy unlimited synching with your iPods, burn unlimited CDs of Read More

Joi Ito's Web: "I just downloaded iTunes 4, set up my .mac account for the music shop and started browsing around the music shop... Now maybe I'm not a good sample, but iTunes 4 is to music downloads what iPod was to mp3 players... My little foray int... Read More

Re: Apple Music from Solipsism Gradient
April 29, 2003 9:25 PM

Adam Curry (who lives in Amsterdam) also wants the store to work outside the US. So does Ben Hammersley (UK). So does Dan Hon (Scotland). Joi Ito (Japan) has to trick the system every time - it seems that they didn't really consider the case of people ... Read More

There seems to be a lot of discussion, both positive and negative, in the blogging community about iTunes 4. Like many other macheads, I downloaded it yesterday, and played around with the Music Store. I can't say whether the Music Store codec is bette... Read More

Sitting at home grading web projects this morning. Gerald's got the digital cable radio playing, and this is the first Read More

音楽のためのアカルイミライ 時代は流れに流れる。母のお気に入りレコードをボロボロにして怒られたのはほんの20年前、世にコンパクト・ディスクなるものが産声を上げて間もない Read More

音楽のためのアカルイミライ 時代は流れに流れる。母のお気に入りレコードをボロボロにして怒られたのはほんの20年前、世にコンパクト・ディスクなるものが産声を上げて間もない Read More

音楽のためのアカルイミライ 時代は流れに流れる。母のお気に入りレコードをボロボロにして怒られたのはほんの20年前、世にコンパクト・ディスクなるものが産声を上げて間もない Read More