Enjoy DRM-free music on your mobile – but don’t enable the ringtone…

Today, Apple started selling the ‘DRM-free’ EMI catalog of music on the iTunes store, which allows you to use music you have purchased for “personal, non commercial use”. At Mobicious, we’ve been brainstorming on how to make it really easy to get music onto your cell phone. Using a Mobicious-style user experience for discovery of music (and also video), you could easily download songs from your PC to your handset. Our initial idea was to make these downloads “personal” – so you could use them on your own phone, but not be able to download to friends’ or other phones. You could download by Bluetooth, USB, onto memory stick, or over the air – whichever you preferred. So now (assuming your phone plays AAC or MP3 formatted songs) your music is on your phone (whether using Mobicious or “doing it yourself”).

itunes.jpg  So you could then choose which of your ‘personal use’ songs you make your ringtone, right? Um – no. Sorry. Definitely not. That’s not allowed. Not if you purchased it from iTunes. To be precise, “You may not use Products as a musical ‘ringer’ in connection with phone calls.” So you are able to download the music to your phone and play it as much as you like, but you are not permitted to select the option on your phone to use this piece of music as a ringtone! At first blush, you might blame Apple, but I suspect that this is a caveat of the DRM-free license between Apple and the music publishers. Ironically, this is the kind of nonsense that “DRM-free” is supposed to avoid….. if you have paid for the track and you can listen to it on your phone, then why on earth (assuming your phone has the feature) can you not (legally) play it as a ringtone?

Tell us what you think…. We plan to implement the feature, but we will have to adhere to the restriction of telling you not to use that option on your phone. I’m reminded of a board game that poses various ethical questions about whether you would take certain actions (a classic one being “Would you leave a note if you accidentally made a tiny but visible dent in someone’s car as you opened your door?”). How would you answer the question “Would you break the law and enable a piece of legally playable music on your phone as a ringtone?”


1 Response to “Enjoy DRM-free music on your mobile – but don’t enable the ringtone…”

  1. 1 prilosec and sulpha Trackback on August 26, 2007 at 4:33 am

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