Apple has a new patent which will allow you to distribute music between friends and family, but also may restrict which devices you can play the files on.
Apple has just obtained a new patent which may come to change how iTunes distributes it’s content. Currently, when you buy a song from iTunes, you are purchasing a file, but with the new patent you would instead be purchasing a license for that file. Once you have the license, you are free to distribute the song between your devices, to friends and family, and perhaps even to strangers. In essence, you are purchasing the right to distribute the file yourself.
According to Apple, the system, which is called “decoupling rights in a digital content unit from download”, has several benefits compared with traditional file distribution. For example, it would require less bandwidth from the distribution platform, and lower overhead costs.
“This reduction in operating expenses may facilitate a two-tier pricing structure. For example, the digital content store may charge a first price to users who download a digital content unit from the store and a second price to users who authorize a digital content unit without downloading the unit,” the patent reads. In other words, if you and your friends all plan on buying the same album, only one of you actually need to purchase the full download – that person could then distribute the content to the rest of the group, who only need to buy a discounted license to gain access.
Apple’s new patent will allow users to distribute files instead of Apple’s servers
“This may encourage users to trade or copy digital content units as well as authorize these copies. Such sharing may, in turn, reduce piracy or illegal copying..,” suggests Apple.
It isn’t all a bed of roses though, and this is an important point: In order to make the licensing system work, Apple has to introduce a new type of content protection, which in turn restricts your usage of the files. They will have to be played only on “trusted client software”, which means transferring files between devices will only be possible if both devices use Apple’s licensing software. Unlike most of the music sold today, you will likely no longer be able to stick a few songs on your usb stick or make a cd for your car.