iTunes Hack Just Part of a Bigger Digital Picture

News of a recent hack of Apple’s iTunes Store DRM has been doing the rounds recently. This is a big deal for Apple but these sorts of stories will always grab the headlines and they need a bit of context:

a) it doesn’t actually break the DRM as such, it bypasses it by capturing the original audio stream as the track downloads. As I’ve said before in this blog, people are always going to be able to copy stuff via audio capture. It’s how all ‘piracy’ used to work in the pre-digital days.
b) It only works on purchased tracks. So if some one has to pay for everything they want to share.
c) The DRM can also be bypassed by simply burning to CD and ripping again – admittedly with some audio quality loss due to lossy compression processes but the file sharing generation has grown up listening to sub CD quality via headphones and has a lower quality demands….especially if it’s free.

In some ways Apple should really take the hack as a complement: it’s a recognition of its popularity. With the continued decline of many file sharing networks (both in usage and quality of service) legal services like Apple’s will be the key beneficiary. The bottom line is that digital music (be it paid download, free download, ripped CD, Internet radio etc) is becoming an increasingly important part of consumers’ lives and will continue to do so, with or without file sharing. But this trend is part of a larger one of the increasing digitization of the home, which is why today JupiterResearch launched a new European research service called the European Digital Home, which will look at consumer adoption of technology and how that impacts consumption of content. For a sneak peek click on the link: