Reflections on Online Music Stores

Lately we’ve been seeing online music purchasing services such as iTunes, Real Music Store, etc. Such services are a good thing as they allow Media companies to make money off selling music files, while allowing users to buy and download their favourite songs without too much hassle.

Some of these stores attempt to use one of the so-called “Digital Rights Management” (or “DRM”) systems, to prevent the users from making use of the files as is. However, since players to play the files are present on the users’ computers and these players can be reverse engineered, then this offers only fig leaf protection, and is just an annoyance. Online stores would do better to avoid such schemes altogether and just provide the plain, non-scrambled, music files.

While online music stores are a good thing, it still doesn’t imply that file-swapping services like Peer-to-Peer network are illegitimate. There is room and legitimacy for both.