Technology is changing almost every facet of what we do in our lives. Personal computers (PC) have invaded our homes and offices in a big way. Gone are the days when the PC was relegated to word processing, technical software code writing, mathematical calculations and such. These days, the PC has become ubiquitous to the modern day home and office. Coupled with the advent of the internet, one innovative use of the PC, brought about by the end-users itself, is the Peer to Peer (P2P) networking service. P2P networks are wide area networks of different users connected via the internet. This facilitated the exchange of files between different peers in the network.
One such service, namely Napster, became extremely popular as it allowed members to exchange MP3 files (Compressed music files) that were stored on their hard drives with each other. Such was the popularity of this service that it affected the revenues of the traditional format music sales. Napster was eventually shut down in the wake of the suit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The RIAA contended that the service offered by Napster amounted to outright piracy. The courts agreed and eventually Napster was shut down. iTunes was one of the first online music distribution service to make use of its own proprietary Digital Rights Management (DRM) system, and as such can be regarded as the first legal music distribution service.
Apple's iTunes Music Store (iTMS) lets customers search a catalog of over 700,000 tracks, including music from all five major labels (AOL/Time-Warner, EMI, Sony, Vivendi-Universal, and BMG) and several other smaller and independent record labels. With one click, users can purchase the songs and download them into their iTunes music library for $0.99 per song and $9.99 per album, without any subscription fees. Songs are downloaded in digital quality and can be burned onto CDs for personal use, played on up to three computers, and listened to on an unlimited number of portable players such as Apple's iPod. Access to the iTunes Music Store and its song catalog is embedded in Apple's iTunes software, which includes a music player, CD ripping and burning tools, an interface to the iPod, free Internet radio stations, and a limited streaming audio feature called Rendezvous.
In October 2003, Apple released similar software for Windows. Sixteen days and two million downloads after the launch, Apple's iTMS had become the pacesetter in the digital music marketplace. Finally, there was a simple, inexpensive music service that could satisfy consumers. With over 70 million downloads since its launch, the Store has elicited renewed interest in the online music market (Fisher et al, 2004).
[...] Seattle's Loudeye Expands Online Music Role. San Jose Mercury News. Article retrieved June from EBSCO Newspaper Source database. DeLuca, D. (2004). Burning Issue: Industry's future depends on make-your- own discs. Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA). Article retrieved June from EBSCO Newspaper Source database. Digital music protection plan Fizzles (2002). Retrieved June from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/04/29/tech/main507516.shtml Electronic Frontier Foundation. Digital rights management: The skeptic's view. Retrieved June from http://ww.eff.org/IP/DRM/20030401_drm_skeptics_view.php. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Fair use and digital rights management: Preliminary thoughts on the (Irreconcilable?) tension between them. [...]
[...] This remains one of the most pressing IT related issue concerning iTMS today (Fisher et al., 2004). If the Four Step management Analysis tool were to be used for a solution, then it would entail the following: Diagnosis. In this step, the current situation will be assessed and the information needs will be arrived at. In this situation, the issue at hand is the DRM system employed by iTMS. Evaluation. This step involves the assessment of the existing DRM system and comparison with the competition's DRM systems. [...]
[...] Therefore, substitute products do exist and pose quite a fair amount of threat to online music distribution. For a person really devoted to his music, the intangible nature of music downloads may be a detriment. People who are technology averse still prefer the sound of a good old long playing vinyl record to a compact disc or a digital download. Another substitute to commercial online music distribution is the use of various P2P file sharing networks such as Morpheus, Kaaza, and Gnutella. These networks still provide free music downloads. [...]
[...] Let us not forget that the whole concept of online music distribution was brought about by the explosion of the number of users in the P2P domain. However, another new concept emerging is the make-your-own CD (Custom CD) concept, where you can sit in a store, point and click and have your custom CD delivered to you right there. Bargaining Power of Suppliers The main suppliers of content (In this case music) to iTMS are the five major record labels; AOL/Time-Warner, EMI, Sony, Vivendi-Universal, and BMG and hundreds of other independents. [...]
[...] Sony has also launched its own online music store called Connect. Connect also uses its own proprietary form of DRM. Sony's MiniDisc player could become more popular because of the removal nature of its storage media. In comparison, the iPods are hard drive based devices whose capacity is fixed as per the different models iTMS's DRM system ‘Fairplay' is proprietary in nature i.e. digital music content encoded with the Fairplay rights management code can be played only on the Apple's own device, the iPod. [...]
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