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FrankR Wiki 3

Page history last edited by ted.coopman@... 9 years, 7 months ago

This is an example of a "A" Wiki Expert Page. Please note that some assignment rules have changed since this was submitted. While you may use iTunes as your topic, do not use materials from this wiki.

Apple's iTunes and peer-to-peer file sharing




The topic of this wiki research project is Apple’s iTunes and file-sharing sites such as Napster and Kazaa.  It will include discussion of iTunes and the controversy over illegal downloading of music.  In particular, it will consider how record companies responded to illegal file-sharing sites.  It also will examine how Apple’s iTunes provided a convenient, legal way for consumers to download music. 


What is iTunes?


On its website, Apple (2010) pitches iTunes as a convenient site for “all your digital media, all in one place.”  It described iTunes as “a free application for your Mac or PC.  It organizes and plays your digital music and video on your computer.  It keeps all your content in sync.  And it’s a store on your computer, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV that has everything you need to be entertained.”


This screen grab from Apple's website details the features of iTunes.



The introduction of Napster, file sharing, and MP3 music downloads


File-sharing and peer-to-peer networks had a “formative impact” on the digital distribution of music, Madden (2009) noted.  “Distributed networks of socially-driven music sharing” such as Napster “helped lay the foundation for mainstream engagement with participatory media applications,” she wrote.  Until the introduction of Napster, Bakker (2005) noted, it was possible “in theory” to transfer music files over the Internet.  “But because of the size of CD-tracks (30 Mb or more) and low bandwidth,” he wrote, “transfer of these files was next to impossible for the average user” (p. 43).  In the late 1990s, though, technological developments such as the MP3 format led to the introduction of Napster in 1999, followed by Kazaa, Gnutella, and other peer-to-peer networks (Bakker, 2005).


Several factors led to the popularity of file sharing and Napster, Coopman (2010) noted, among them “the availability of broadband at major U.S. universities” and “the unwillingness of the music industry to embrace digital distribution” (Keynote presentation, slide 6).  As Coopman noted, “digital media is highly disruptive of traditional media” (Keynote presentation, slide 4).  “The internet and digital technology break the control over production (perfect, limitless copies) and distribution,” he wrote.  “So you no longer need factories to burn CDs.  . . .  The effects of this process was first seen in the creation of Napster and the rise of file sharing” (Keynote presentation, slide 5).


File sharing as a substitute for radio


Napster arrived in an era of mass media consolidation that resulted in a homogenization of radio formats, Madden (2009) wrote.  Napster, on the other hand, allowed music listeners to share their entire collection with others on the network.  After Napster’s launch in June 1999, Madden wrote, “the music ecology radically changed.”  By July 2000, one in four U.S. adult Internet users had downloaded music; of those, 54% had used Napster, Madden wrote.  According to Lessig (2004), Napster had more than 10 million users within nine months of its launch, the grew to 80 million registered users within 18 months (p. 67).


While some music listeners, Lessig (2004) noted, “use sharing networks as substitutes for purchasing content” (p. 68), others are sampling music before buying, downloading music that is no longer available or subject to copyright law, or gaining access to music with the permission of the copyright owner.  Before legal services such as iTunes,  Bakker (2005) noted, “because there were no real alternatives, many users were more or less ‘forced’ to turn to ‘illegal’ services” (p. 42). 


Furthermore, Ferguson, Greer, and Reardon (2007) found evidence to support the idea that college students listen to downloaded MP3 tracks as a substitute for listening to the radio.  In particular, they found, students use MP3 players “not just for entertainment, but in connection with boredom, stimulation, loneliness, and as a means of relaxation or escape” (p. 116).  For college students, according to Kinnally et al. (2008), “downloading technology is attractive partly because it offers risk-free sampling of music” (p. 906), as well as contributing to social interactions among other music fans.


The fight against peer-to-peer networks


According to Madden (2009), the music industry—represented by the Recording Industry Association of America—waged a five-year battle in the courts against illegal downloading, targeting more than 35,000 individual consumers on allegations of violating copyright law.  According to Freedman (2003), the music industry fought illegal downloading by “lobbying for sympathetic copyright legislation” (p. 176), developing copy-protection technology, and by attempting “to hack into unlicensed music files in what it calls ‘spoofing’ ” (p. 176).  According to its website, the RIAA (n.d.) even today contends that illegal downloading is theft.  “Across the board, this theft has hurt the music community, with thousands of layoffs, songwriters out of work and new artists having a harder time getting signed and breaking into the business,” the website stated.


While, as Lessig (2004) noted, “courts quickly shut Napster down” (p. 67), Kazaa and other peer-to-peer music services emerged to take its place, prompting more legal battles.  For the record industry, Madden wrote, “At the end of that costly campaign, the challenge of plugging the P2P hole proved to be insurmountable, and critics largely viewed the litigation as ineffective.” 


Radiohead had a successful "pay what you can" model for the release of its In Rainbows album.  Today, Radiohead invites fans to not only watch the video for House of Cards, but to "download it," "play with it," "manipulate it," and "watch it being made" at the band's website.



While Metallica famously campaigned against Napster, other bands embraced the free distribution of music.  Independent rock band Wilco, for example, released its Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album for free online after the band was dropped by its record label in 2001, Madden (2009) wrote.  Fans embraced the album, and the label in 2002 released a CD version that sold more than 5,000 copies.  In 2007, Madden noted, Radiohead released its In Rainbows album online in a successful “pay what you can” model.


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This YouTube video from Wired magazine offers advice from the CEO of Internet startup Topspin on how bands can make money in a world dominated by digital downloads.



Apple’s iTunes and music downloads


Apple’s iTunes store was launched in 2003, first for the Mac and later for Windows, with the mission of competing directly with illegal file-sharing services (Bakker, 2005).  According to Bakker, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in 2003:  “We’re gonna fight downloading by competing with it. We’re not gonna sue it, we’re not gonna pretend that it doesn’t exist, we’re gonna compete with it” (p. 45).  According to Helft (2010a), Jobs had returned to Apple in the previous decade, when the Silicon Valley computer maker “was on the verge of extinction.”  The popularity of the iPod and iTunes contributed to Apple’s resurgence in the past decade (Helft, 2010a).


With iTunes, Coopman (2010) noted, Apple “provided the only reasonable alternative for recording companies.  Without the threat of file sharing, it is doubtful that Jobs would have gotten industry cooperation” (Keynote presentation, slide 7).  Indeed, Bakker (2005) wrote, “Paid services like iTunes have some features that P2P-services lack: streaming audio, exclusive tracks and celebrity play lists.  And, they provide users with more reliable and faster downloads” (p. 52).  In addition, Bakker noted, legal services such as iTunes are not as likely as peer-to-peer services to infect computers with spyware and other malware. 


Five factors influence digital downloading by music listeners: cost, portability, mobility, choice, and remixability (Madden, 2009).  With iTunes, Lessig (2004) noted, Apple embraced the ideas of consumer choice and remixability of music.  “Indeed,” he wrote, Apple “went so far as to suggest that ‘freedom’ was a right:  In a series of commercials, Apple endorsed the ‘Rip, Mix, Burn’ capacities of digital technologies” (p. 203).  While Madden (2009) suggested that consumers would prefer free downloads, Lessig (2004) noted that Apple’s iTunes was intended to “beat ‘free’ by being easier than free is.  This has proven correct: Apple has sold millions of songs at even the very high price of 99 cents a song” (p. 302).


By 2006, Apple customers had bought 1 billion downloaded songs from iTunes (Ferguson, Greer, & Reardon, 2007; Kinnally et al., 2008).  By 2009, Madden (2009) wrote, iTunes dominated the market among the 13% of music consumers who pay for legal music downloads.  However, she noted, iTunes’ reach is limited: “Popular artists such as AC/DC still do not have licensing deals with Apple, and many older albums from independent artists like Silver Sun have never made it to iTunes’ digital shelves.  Music fans in search of these recordings are still more likely to find them on peer-to-peer networks, torrent trackers, and eBay.”


Apple’s iTunes, Madden (2009) wrote, “pioneered the widespread use of DRM” or digital rights management technology, that put limits on the number of computers and devices on which downloaded music could be played.  “These restrictions and assurances that the files would not be widely redistributed online were necessary for Apple to acquire the licensing they needed from the record labels,” she noted.  By 2008, however, the major music labels allowed the sale of DRM-free downloads on iTunes, giving consumers more flexibility, Madden (2009) wrote.  In 2008, Sisario (2008) reported, the music industry sold more than 1 billion downloaded tracks, an increase of 27% from the year before, while total U.S. sales of physical albums dropped 14% to 428 million.  


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In this YouTube video from The New York Times, columnist David Pogue compares Microsoft’s Zune music player and store with Apple’s iPod and iTunes store.



Music downloading today: illegal and legal


Today, according to Helft (2010a), “the iPod and iTunes lead the market for music players and online distribution of music.”  In September 2010, Helft (2010b) reported, Apple introduced its latest generation of iPods, and added a social-networking feature called Ping to iTunes.  “With it, users will be able to follow friends and see what music they have bought or enjoyed, what concerts they plan to attend and what music they have reviewed,” Helft (2010b) wrote. “They will also be able to follow bands and get updates on their new releases, concert tours and other events.”


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This YouTube video from Twitter demonstrates how the Ping social networking feature of Apple’s iTunes can interact with Twitter.



As for illegal downloading, the music industry continues to fight it with what the RIAA website (Recording Industry Association of America, n.d.) described as “a multi-faceted approach” that combines “education, innovation, and enforcement.”  “Our goal with all these anti-piracy efforts,” the RIAA stated, “is to protect the ability of the recording industry to invest in new bands and new music and, in the digital space, to give legal online services a chance to flourish.”  However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on its website (Electronic Frontier Foundation, n.d.), described the RIAA’s efforts as an “irrational war against P2P by misguided content owners and their representatives” that “is not generating a single penny for artists.  In fact, despite lawsuits and other attempts to stymie P2P providers and thousands of music and movie fans, file sharing is more popular than ever.”


In June 2010, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the inventors of the Kazaa file-sharing network, started their newest music site, a monthly subscription service known as Rdio (Stone, 2010).  Over the years, they won the support of a music industry that once fought Kazaa and other peer-to-peer networks, winning a license to songs from Warner Music Group and other record labels.  “We resolved the past,” Warner Music Group executive Michael Nash told Stone (2010).  “These guys are focused on the future.”




Bakker, P. (2005).  File-sharing—fight, ignore or compete: Paid download services vs. P2P-networks.  Telematics and Informatics, 22 (1-2), 41-55. 


Coopman, T.M. (2010).  Theory workshop #7: Entertainment (Keynote presentation).  Retrieved from http://comm181.pbworks.com/Theory-Workshop-7:-Entertainment


Ferguson, D., Greer, C., & Reardon, M. (2007).  Uses and gratifications of MP3 players by college students: Are iPods more popular than radio.  Journal of Radio Studies, 14(2), 102-121.


Freedman, D. (2003).  Managing pirate culture: Corporate responses to peer-to-peer networking.  JMM—The International Journal on Media Management, 5(3), 173-179.


Helft, M. (2010a, June 23).  Is Apple a victim of sour grapes?  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/technology/24apple.html


Helft, M. (2010b, September 1).  From Apple, a step into social media for music.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/technology/02apple.html


Kinnally, W., Lacayo, A., McClung, S., and Sapolsky, B. (2008).  Getting up on the download: college students’ motivations for acquiring music via the web.  New Media & Society, 10(6), 893-913.


Lessig, L. (2004).  Free culture: How big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity.  New York: Penguin Press.


Sisario, B. (2008, December 31).  Music sales fell in 2008, but climbed on the Web.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/01/arts/music/01indu.html


Stone, B. (2010, June 3).  Now selling music files, not sharing.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE7D7163EF930A35755C0A9669D8B63&ref=apple_computer_inc


Pew Study


Madden, M. (2009).  The state of music online: Ten years after Napster.  Pew Internet & American Life Project.  Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/9-The-State-of-Music-Online-Ten-Years-After-Napster/The-State-of-Music-Online-Ten-Years-After-Napster.aspx?view=all




Apple (2010).  What is iTunes?  Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/itunes/what-is/


Electronic Frontier Foundation (n.d.)  File sharing.  Retrieved from https://www.eff.org/issues/file-sharing


Recording Industry Association of America (n.d.)  Piracy: Online and on the street.  Retrieved from http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php


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