hymnIt seems every new version of iTunes removes some feature in the interest of Apple’s suppliers. Are Apple’s customers filing bug reports saying “please make your program not work with my other programs” and “please let me do less with my music”? Is DRM a dealbreaker for the music industry? If people demanded that their music work with every music player, would the music industry respond by stopping production and sales of music?

Here’s my list of features that have been removed from iTunes:

Removes support for people who browse their music across subnets. (Workaround)
Lowered the number of times you can burn a playlist with iTMS music from 10 to 7. They did this post facto, which is a snobby way of saying that Apple changed the deal after they got your money. People paid them for a song that could be burned 10 times, and Apple changed that to 7 after they had people’s money. Not to get too geeky (in a post on DRM and copyright? OK, too late) but this Star Wars quote seems appropriate: I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.
Removes Hymn 0.6.1 compatibility. Hymn 0.6.1 left the Apple ID in songs downloaded from the iTunes Music Store to encourage people not to share music (since it could be traced back to them).

Apple had a choice to make: they could ignore this and let people de-cripple their music onymously or they could lock out music that had been de-crippled but could be tracked back to the owner. If they chose the latter there were two possible outcomes. The first was that the people who had broken every bit of DRM to date wouldn’t be able to remove an ID they were purposefully leaving in and Hymn would stop being able to de-cripple music, or people would start sharing de-crippled iTMS songs anonymously. Guess which Apple chose and guess what happened.

Removes iPod Download compatibility. (More on this and a workaround)
Limit to the number of people who can access iTunes shared music each day.
Removes JHymn 0.6.3 compatibility.

As a slight aside, I no longer have faith that people will recognize that DRM is harming them. I made a post over at PVRblog about TiVo Desktop 2.1, which goes to great lengths to tell people how they should watch their TiVoToGo files. If you look through the comments you’ll see lots of people who buy the line that they need to be protected from themselves, and that the media companies would walk away from a US$660 million market if it weren’t for DRM.

Not that DRM was ever a market issue, but I don’t believe consumers will stand up and ask why the music they pay for won’t play in an iPod and a Rio. I haven’t given up the copyfight, but the general public believes the lie that Big Copyright gets to tell companies and people what they can and can’t do. It depresses me when I think about all the great works that will be lost or never created. Anyway, leave any features lost in iTunes upgrades that I missed in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

16 responses to “Features lost in iTunes upgrades”

  1. The incredible shrinking iTunes

    Once upon a time, someone pointed out that Steve Jobs appears to be surrounded by a reality distortion field that makes it impossible for independent observers to see his actions clearly. George Hotelling has been following the remarkable disappearance…

  2. I’d rather not be an apologist for Apple DRM, but they have upped the limit on authorized computers from 3 to 5.

  3. They have added a lot of features to iTunes over the versions, which is generally what happens when companies release new versions. I’m trying to catalog the stuff they removed from iTunes, which falls under the category of “dog bites man.”
    Also, according to WikiMac, lowering the 10 playlists to 7 and upping the 3 authorized computers to 5 was “the result of the renegotiation Apple had with major labels.” I’m not saying Apple is solely at fault here; you’re their customer and they are the labels’ customer so you have to walk up the food chain.

  4. pdtar says:

    “As a slight aside, I no longer have faith that people will recognize that DRM is harming them.”
    Yep. I hope neighborhood wizards (geeks) stir the discussion as happened with firewalls, evil BHO’s, spyware/adware. Took several years before we gained the offensive and it’s not over yet.
    This battle seems more difficult.

  5. tf says:

    4 out of 6 are NOT “features.” They were ways of crcumventing iTune’s true features.
    1 was accompanied by an equal, if not greater improvement: burns from 10 to 7 (how many people need to burn 10 copies of the same mix? Are people still burning with mp3 players and streaming abilities now?) accompanied by increasing number of computers authorized from 3 to 5.
    That leaves one legitimate complaint: restricting Rendezvous sharing to 5 users per day… Boo Hoo.

  6. Tod Sandberg says:

    DRM doesn’t work. Read about it here (then click on ‘Download This’ to view the article).

  7. Anonymous Coward says:

    JHymn is working again, BTW, just so you know.

  8. Music sharing limits in iTunes 4.7.1

    [or: Dear Apple, don’t be sneaky] This news isn’t new, but I just found out about it this morning: The latest iTunes upgrade (version 4.7.1) severely limits your ability to share your music library over a local network. Previously, up to five users cou…

  9. Don Marti says:

    There has been a practical experiment to resolve the “do the copyright holders care” question — DVDs. Hollywood really didn’t change its behavior when DVD DRM was circumvented. The reason for DRM is locking in customers, not making copyright holders happy.

  10. Anonymous says:

    When I “Get Info” on my purchased iTMS tracks, the FairPlay version for each track is displayed. I’ve got a handful of FairPlay version 1 tracks, and several FairPlay version 2 tracks. Is there any reason to think that the Version 1 tracks wouldn’t fall under the original TOS?

  11. What if music was free (Part 2)…

    Why we need to ask what happens if music is free… I’m not a DRM expert, but I think the general understanding is that DRM doesn’t apperar to be working. Even supposed fair DRM technologies are getting more restrictive. So…

  12. LudoBlog says:

    Apple “améliore” un logiciel en enlevant des fonctions !!!

    En essayant de rattraper mes lectures en retard suite à une semaine bien chargé je suis tombé sur un lien en vrac sur le Standblog. “Chérie j’ai rétrecie iTunes”, ou comment “améliorer” un logiciel en enlevant des fonctions dans “l’interêt”…

  13. Anonymous says:

    They also removed drag/drop-ing files from explorer to itunes. wtf are they doing!

  14. iTunes 6.0 is out

    iTunes version 6.0 is out, adding support for Video Syncing. No other features appear to have been removed, which is a refreshing change for an iTunes release. Anyone else remember the plug-in for copying songs FROM your iPod, killed in…

  15. tigital says:

    iTunes 3.0 is the last version that will load in gdb, which is awful useful for debugging visualizer plugins…maybe that’s why there aren’t very many available?

  16. Meg says:

    “I haven’t given up the copyfight, but the general public believes the lie that Big Copyright gets to tell companies and people what they can and can’t do.”
    Is it really the case that consumers are buying into the lie, or is it that the majority of consumers have NO IDEA about this? I can only speak for myself, of course, but I bought an iPod almost a year ago and didn’t hear about DMS until, well, ten miutes ago. The only reason I heard about it now is because I looked it up after hearing a guy at work mention that you can’t play iTunes songs on other players. I honestly didn’t do much (any) research before buying an iPod, and I know that is the root of my problem. But what I don’t understand is why this issue doesn’t have more mainstream attention. It’s hard for me to believe that people don’t care about it. Personally I’m pissed and feel like I’ve bought myself into a lifetime of slavery to Apple just to hear my music. I’ve never heard anything at all about this before. I never knew there was any vague sense of controversy about the iPod (because there’s not). Why not? What does it take to get something like this off the pages that people interested in technical things read and onto pages for people that just want to buy something and use it? Or are those days over, and those people fools?

Leave a Reply