Sunday, June 12, 2011

What is a "match" in iTunes Match?

iTunes Match is the first service of its kind. Slated to be released later this year, it will take your iTunes library, which is likely full of music ripped from CDs, and match those tracks to copies you can then download from the cloud to all your devices--for $24.99 per year.

That's all well and good, but seeing as how the battle between music label and pirate still wages, I wonder what in iTunes Match will be restricted once they actually flip the switch.

Obviously, the music industry doesn't want to make things any easier for thieves, and clearly, if you have tens of thousands of pirated songs in your library, no company in its right mind should ever give you legitimate copies of those songs for 25 bucks. So, it stands to ask, will there be any type of limitations on this new service?

Consider this: when you click "get info" on a song in your iTunes library, the summary tab shows what type of software was used to encode that track. Many pirated versions of songs will use third-party software and codecs that spit out numerous audio filetypes (LAME, FLAC, etc). But if you have used iTunes to rip a CD, it clearly states that iTunes took care of your cd-ripping duties and even shows which version of QuickTime was used in the process. So, iTunes Match--what exactly will qualify as a legitimate match? Only iTunes-encoded tracks? Or any ol' file type that gets stuck in your library?

As it stands, most people see iTunes Match as a way for pirates to legitimize stolen music—a way to convert anything downloaded from the Internet into pure and true, music label-endorsed tracks, all for about 7 cents a day. I personally hope that's not the case. And given that this seems like a perfectly reasonable and easy way to do so, we'll just have to see how Apple handles this. Above all, I'm just amazed that Apple has been given the green light for this service in the first place.

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