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The Headline Syndrome II

They're at it again - and this time it's the celebrated BBC leading the charge.

'Anger over DRM-free iTunes tracks', reads the BBC News headline. Something's wrong with Apple's DRM-free tracks. Not Apple's tracks in general but the new tracks without DRM. That's the message. And it implies duplicity. A dirty little secret. And the always reliable BBC News are here to give you the story.

And if you believe this excuse for journalism you'll be led around by the nose again.

Almost all the facts in the story are correct. But they in themselves wouldn't grab your attention. For that one needs to inject the suspicion Apple have stopped using 'fair play' in more ways than one.

And as with all the mainstream sites they have to go into detail basically explaining what DRM stands for, what it is, what a computer is, what a file is, and so forth. It fills up pages.

It's also interesting they explain how to circumvent the DRM - not a particularly helpful explanation but nevertheless: by 'burning tracks to a CD and then converting them to another format'. Whether this really makes any sense is left as an exercise to the reader.

Fold 2

It's not until you get to the second fold - until you read so far you have to hit your scroll bar - you see a wee bit of a clarification (and a disclaimer).

But it also added that the user information was found on all the tracks that people buy on iTunes whether free of DRM or not.

It was added? By whom? Why by Ars Technica of course.


The Ars Technica headline is entirely different: 'Apple hides account info in DRM-free music, too'. There it's clear that although this may be a recent discovery it's nothing new.

Apple embeds your account information in all songs sold on the store, not just DRM-free songs.

As the AT article points out, this wasn't as much of an issue if it was difficult to make 'pirate copies' anyway. But now it can be.

But it's admittedly creepers knowing one's name and address are embedded inside each downloaded file. So until some shareware entrepreneur comes up with a single click solution iTunes fans might profit by becoming acquainted with a good binary (hex) editor such as this.

Following Suit

So although BBC News get their news from a reliable source they choose to bury the diffusing truth way down in their article and reckon with most visitors suffering from the Headline Syndrome™.

And it's hardly surprising the 'journalists' of the other major news sources mostly choose to follow suit.

[One site - The Inquirer - even goes so far as to claim Apple have a 'large amount of user details'. Computerworld claims the data is 'added' to DRM-free tracks - and then duplicates their story around the world at Computerworld Australia, PC World Australia, Computerworld New Zealand, PC World New Zealand, and so forth. There's no basis for such claims but who cares? Welcome to the new post-grad curriculum.]

PC Pro: The spy lurking in Apple's 'DRM-free' music
Slashdot: Apple Hides Account Info in DRM-Free Music
PC World: Apple Codes DRM-Free iTunes With Buyer's ID
Digital Trends: Apple Puts Personal Data In DRM-Free Tracks
Tech Digest: Your details - hidden in an Apple DRM-free download
Computerworld NZ: Apple conceals buyer data in DRM-free iTunes tracks
The Inquirer: Apple's DRM free music has poison tip (Tells everyone about you)

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