The Internet changes everything and nothing. One way it
changes things is that it flattens the landscape. That is,
why have middlemen in a world where conversations are now
one-to-one? In an environment where I can speak to someone
across the globe as easily as if I were talking to a neighbor
across the backyard fence, why do I need a go between? If I
am a singer, I no longer need a record company to produce
stacks of wax. I can burn my own CDs or provide downloads and
sell them directly to the customer. In one fell swoop you
reduce your costs while increasing your profits by several
orders of magnitude (i.e., instead of pennies per album, you
are making dollars). In addition, you get instant feedback
from your customers. What is selling? What isn’t? Why (your
customers will make the connection to you whether you want
them to or not)? Further, the harder you work and the better
you are, the more you make.
What it doesn’t change is market dynamics. That is, if
there is an unmet need, someone will fill the vacuum and
become successful doing it. For the instant availability and
downloading of music, Napster; KaZaA; and Gnutella have/had
millions of people using their services.
For whatever reason, people want to be able to
conveniently and immediately listen to their
music in forms and in places that is convenient to
them. Whether it is because they don’t want to spend
the money on buying a complete album when only one song that
interests them or because they don’t want to spend money on
something they can get for free or because they are tired of
being pandered to on radio stations that treat them like cows
to be force fed through the nose. The business models that
filled those needs succeeded. Until, that is, the middlemen
The response of the music industry middlemen to this
market is to create barriers. Barriers in the form of “copy
protection” (AKA Digital Rights Management or DRM for short)
such as NetBurn
Secure and/or MediaMax (I would include a link to their
site but it is so obnoxious and clueless that I can’t, in
good conscience, do so). Barriers in the form of treating
their potential and actual customers as thieves by
prosecuting them and hoping to make examples that will
instill fear, awe, and yes shock into all who may dare
question their power.
Into this mix comes now Apple Computer and their iTunes
service (see it here). The service
provides 400,000 tunes available for immediate download at a
cost of .99 cents each (plus tax). However, all of the music
is protected by DRM. Nonetheless, there is a way to convert
the files from the proprietary formats.
The instructions below are taken from Apple themselves so
one must assume they consider this to be fair use:
If your computer has a CD-RW drive, you can make your
own audio CDs containing the songs you add to a playlist.
You can listen to the audio CDs you create in iTunes in
most consumer CD players and on your computer.
iTunes converts the songs to standard audio files before
writing them to the CD. You can fit about 74 minutes of
music, or about 20 songs, on a 650 MB CD-R disc. Some discs
allow 80 minutes (700 MB) of music.
1 Choose Edit > Preferences, then click the Burning
tab at the top of the window.
2 Choose Audio CD as the Disc Format.
3 To have all the songs on the CD play at the same
volume level, select the Sound Check checkbox.
4 Click OK.
5 Select the playlist you want to burn to the CD, then
click the Burn Disc button.
You can only burn a CD from the songs in a playlist.
If the playlist contains more songs than will fit on the
CD, iTunes will burn as many songs as will fit on one disc,
then ask you to insert another disc to continue burning the
remaining songs. (You can see the size of the selected
playlist at the bottom of the iTunes window.)
6 Insert a blank CD-R disc and click Burn Disc
If you plan to play the CD on a consumer CD player, you
need to use a blank CD-R disc. If you plan to only play the
CD using your computer, you can also use a CD-RW disc.
It takes several minutes to burn an audio CD. You can
cancel the burn by clicking the X next to the progress bar,
but if you’re burning to a CD-R disc you won’t be able to
use the CD after canceling.
If a playlist contains any songs purchased from the
iTunes Music Store, you can only burn the same playlist 10
times. If the playlist includes Audible spoken word content
with chapter markers, the chapters are burned as separate
For more information about external CD burners that work
with iTunes, visit the Apple Support website at
Note that to convert their protected files you
must burn them to CD first. Further, you
must follow the instructions above to do it. That is, you
must create an “Audio CD” (files have the standard .cda
extension) rather than trying to go directly from Apple’s
format to anything else. Once the audio CD is created, you
must then read the files using a ripper (I use AudioGrabber,
see it here.
But you can use Windows Media Player 9, if you don’t mind
converting to Microsoft’s own proprietary format. Otherwise,
you can buy plug-ins for Media Player 9 that convert to MP3).
The ripper program would then save the target file from the
CD into the format of your choice; such as wav, Ogg Vorbis or
As a side light to the above post, I did a
Google News search. While looking at the hits, I noticed
something odd. Page after page of hits with the
exact same headline: “Decision coming on
technology to prevent internet piracy…”. By page after page
I mean four pages of the exact same thing. The URLs for most
appear to be TV stations. Of the five sites I looked at, all
had the same basic layout (three columns with a banner across
the top). All had the buttons in the left column. All
formatted the AP story exactly the same way. I don’t know
what to make of this but I don’t think it is
Whatever the case, the stations are:
WKYT, KY - Oct 24, 2003 WHAG-TV, MD - Oct 24, 2003 WHNS - Oct 24, 2003 WANE, IN - Oct 24, 2003 KRON4.com, CA - Oct 24, 2003 KPLC-TV, LA - Oct 24, 2003 KAIT, AR - Oct 24, 2003 WLUC-TV, MI - Oct 24, 2003 KFOR-TV, OK - Oct 24, 2003 WHNT, AL - Oct 24, 2003 WBAY, WI - Oct 24, 2003 WLOX, MS - Oct 24, 2003 KWWL, IA - Oct 24, 2003 WSTM-TV, NY - Oct 24, 2003 WTVM, GA - Oct 24, 2003 WQAD, IL - Oct 24, 2003 KAMC, TX - Oct 24, 2003 WMC-TV, TN - Oct 24, 2003 WRIC TV, VA - Oct 24, 2003 WCAX, VT - Oct 24, 2003 KRNV, NV - Oct 24, 2003 WAVY-TV, VA - Oct 24, 2003 KSFY, SD - Oct 24, 2003 WALB-TV, GA - Oct 24, 2003 WSFA, AL - Oct 24, 2003 WAFF, AL - Oct 24, 2003 KESQ, CA - Oct 24, 2003 WTVO, IL - Oct 24, 2003 KPOM-TV, AR - Oct 24, 2003 KTVO, MO - Oct 24, 2003 KVIA, TX - Oct 24, 2003 KCAU, IA - Oct 24, 2003 WHBF, IL - Oct 24, 2003 WISH, IN - Oct 24, 2003 WHO-TV, IA - Oct 24, 2003 WOOD-TV, MI - Oct 24, 2003