Monday, September 08, 2008

iTunes 8: what really matters is the household library – and its DRM

iTunes 8 is coming out sometime soon, maybe tomorrow.

When it does, there will be the usual array of obvious improvements, and probably a few regressions.

The interesting parts, as always, will involve digital rights management in general, and iTunes approach to household media repositories in particular. Consider the setup described by a reader of my tech blog …

Gordon's Tech: The ultimate AirTunes, iPhone Remote, iTunes setup

From Jan ...

It looks like Remote with iPhones/iPod Touch and AirTunes is the solution for for the multi-room audio setup I was waiting for years to come.

I installed several AirPort Express boxes with AirTunes in the rooms and installed 3 users on a mac mini with fast user switching on. All users have their own iTunes setup and have access to a central NAS Server with all the MP3 files. This won´t work with Windows because Windows won´t allow fast user switching running iTunes !

With this setup every family member is able to hear their music independently on different AirTunes outlets….

Yes, and every family member can have their own media preferences and their own iTunes 8 recommendation profiles. They can’t, of course, sync DRMd music or iPhone/iTouch apps to their user profiles; currently only one account owns the DRMd media and only one account can add music.

Let’s see how iTunes 8 behaves. Apple can either continue to (very, very) quietly support this arrangement, or they can make things more restrictive, or they could validate household media libraries by allowing multiple accounts to add music and supporting multiple DRM accounts in a single media library.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Apple were to ship a revision of the AirPort Extreme that supported putting the media library on the 1TB AirPort drive …

Update 8/8/08: Adam Engst (tidbits) has the same thoughts about the household library, but he says he'd be shocked if Apple announced a fix. Either way, we agree -- what matters now is the management of the media library in the multi-device multi-user household.

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