iTunes Tweak Mirror of American Society

Raise your hand if you were in any way surprised by Appleís minor revamp of iTunes. If I could see you, I donít imagine Iíd spy too many hands in the air. After all, the problem that Apple was gently combating with its debut of the iTunes Music Store was the fact that so many of us were content to take whatever we could without offering any compensation to those who had created the music in the first place.

Donít make the mistake of thinking that Iím on the side of the RIAA. Iím not. I despise the RIAA and most of the major music labels. My regard for them is no less than my respect and appreciation of Microsoft. My point is that the artists, the TRUE artists, are already being ripped off by the RIAA and the music labels. Those of us who are downloading music are adding insult to that injury.

In some ways, I feel like a hypocrite. After all, every time I read of yet another exploit against Microsoftís monopoly I rejoice. Given that statement, as we all know, I spend a lot of time rejoicing. On the other hand, here I sit, lamenting the same behavior perpetrated against Apple.

Iím under no illusion as to the benevolence of Apple Computer, Inc. Apple is yet another large corporation out to make a buck. Theyíve done some less than savory things over the years. Things like converting iTools to an overpriced and under-featured .Mac service come to mind.

For those of us who are members of the club though, Apple is different. They create. Microsoft merely copies. You might think of Cupertino as the home of an artist, while Redmond is mimeograph central.

Politics and preferences aside, there could be no justification for the hacks that allowed streamed music to be downloaded, other than for the music to be copied when it wasnít offered up in that fashion. My editor laments the fact that Apple was compelled to tighten the screws on the service. I saw it as an inevitable reaction to news that no less than two development efforts had managed to violate Appleís licensing agreement.

Apple opened the door for all the copycats who are clamoring to run in their footsteps. They managed to open the tightfisted claws of the music industry and won for us some measure of dignity in listening to the music we legally owned. You might liken it to playing your stereo really loud. Your neighbors might be able to hear it. If youíre playing something worth listening to they might even enjoy it. But no matter how much money you pour into your sound system and no matter how big your speakers are, music played on your stereo in Denver isnít going to be heard by someone in Kansas City.

The statement released at the time iTunes 4.0.1 became available suggests that Apple was surprised and dismayed by this particular reaction to their offering. I for one very much doubt that they were. I certainly wasnít. Its a shame but not a shock. We are a society of something-for-nothings. The only thing more distressing than that simple fact is that it is ingrained in our youth. We at least know better than to take something that isnít ours. We were taught that when we were children. Todayís children, on the other hand, donít seem to have that foundation to fall back on.

My son is little more than one year old. I hope I teach him better than that. I just donít think heíll have a lot of company.