Sunday, December 24, 2006


iTunes turns out to be a really cool little company.

My computer crashed recently. Went out. Gone. Couldn’t even boot. I had to use the restore discs and completely reformat it, sending it all back to its original specifications. This problem, which we still don’t exactly know what happened, caused us to lose any and all files that were on the computer that weren’t backed up.

This also meant all our music files. While I do have a great portion of my CDs backed up onto five DVD-ROM discs, and was able to burn a few of the iTunes songs onto CD-Rs, we bought roughly 125 songs (and albums) over the past couple of years that simply were not backed up. I bought the new Bob Dylan album this year and unfortunately never backed it up. I bought a bunch of singles that we have heard off and on that were never backed up. While it definitely was my fault for not backing up, this raised a question to me about buying songs.

When I bought from iTunes, was I buying a one-time mp3 download, or was I buying the rights to the song?

As I looked through the Apple iTunes faqs, I began to feel downtrodden. It appeared, from everything that I read, that I was buying a one-time download. Darn, I thought to myself. I’m out 125 songs. I thought I would have to re-purchase songs like “Evil” by Interpol that I never burned but listened to as I typed out my comic reviews.

I emailed iTunes support anyway. I explained the situation, wondering if there was anything I could do. No harm in asking, right?

Turns out, iTunes emailed me back. They asked first if I had already synced the songs into an iPod and then I could just reverse-sync them back to the computer. No, I explained. I don’t even have an iPod. My daughter has an iPod Shuffle but I really don’t care whether she gets her Crazy Frog or Disney songs back. I wanted my copy of “Almost” by Bowling for Soup, “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” by Del Amitri, and “Remind Me” by Royksopp (that Geico caveman commercial).

Being super cool, and admitting that this was a one-time only exception, they put the 125 songs back into my account for re-download. They expressly told me to make sure to back up and continue to do so on a regular basis.

Oh, I will! Even though by all respects, accounts, and agreements that I checked off as I used the iTunes software, the company permitted me a second chance after my foul up.

I still want to debate the ethical conundrum of downloading songs or downloading the rights to songs, though.

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