Saturday, January 19, 2013

how to create piracy: an open letter to itunes

dear itunes,

i have been a happy itunes user for a number of years now. i love my ipod. i love the spiffy way i can organize my media.

but recently i had to replace my hard drive and when i restored all my data my computer was no longer authorized to play my itunes library.

no problem; you have procedures for that very thing. so i deauthorized and reauthorized. i went to your website to read directions on how to do it to make sure i was doing it right.

i needed to check because i kept getting an error message that said my machine was already authorized. but then when i tried to use my ipod, i got error messages that said my machine wasn't authorized and needed to be.

your website told me that i needed to update to the latest version of itunes (which i did not want) in order to fix the problem.

so i updated itunes, and the problem was not fixed.

so i sent off a note to customer support, since both of those things can't possibly be true.

each time i connect my ipod to my computer (new hard drive just installed and data restored) it tells me that my computer is no longer authorized to play certain songs.
so i deauthorized/reauthorized, rinse/lather/repeat and the outcome is still this computer is nto authorized, but then when i attempt to authorize, i am told the computer is already authorized.
which is it?
'coz either it IS authorized and it's fine, or it's NOT authorized and i need to authorize it.
it is not ok for me to keep getting the "not authorized message' and go through reauthorization every day only to get the message that the compter is already authorized.
any brilliant ideas?
and i got back a very prompt response:

Greetings from iTunes Store Customer Support! My name is (redacted) and I am glad to assist you today.
I'm sorry to hear that you have been unable to authorize your computer to play your iTunes Store purchases, even though you enter the correct account name and password. I know how eager you are to have this issue resolved at the earliest. I will be glad to help you.
(flask), I have some suggestions that should resolve this issue for you.
The first suggestion is to update to the latest version of iTunes, if you haven't already. You may obtain it here:
If installing the latest version of iTunes doesn't resolve the issue, please try removing the "SC Info" folder as described in this article:
iTunes repeatedly prompts to authorize computer to play iTunes Store purchases
If you follow these steps and still are unable to authorize your computer to play your purchases, please reply to let me know. I will be glad to assist you further.
Thank you for contacting iTunes Store Customer Support.
Have a nice day!

of course i had already READ those articles. that's why i was writing to you.  i realize that not everyone who writes to you has read the instructions, but i was still annoyed.

it then came out that maybe the problem is that i appear to have two accounts (what? i thought you guys consolidated them for me five years ago!)

so you asked me to deauthorize my machine entirely (a thing i could now do in my sleep from sheer repetition) and then reauthorize BOTH accounts, using up two authorizations on one machine.

you also asked me to determine which songs were purchased on which accounts:

 if you aren't sure which account you used to purchase an item, you can find out by following these steps:
1) Control-click (or right-click) the item in your iTunes Library.
2) Choose Get Info from the menu that appears.
3) Click the Summary tab.
You’ll see the account used to purchase the item. If you have changed your account name, the item's Summary will still show the original account name.
You can also review your entire purchase history. For more information, see this article:

which seemed like an awful lot of extra steps for me.

and i said so:
that seems like a LOT of steps to have to go through.

i only need one account and i do not have anything at all attached to the (redacted) address except itunes, which for some reason simply won't let me use any other account name without losing what i have.

i'm also only using the one computer, so it doesn't make sense to have two accounts and (now) three authorizations in order to connect one ipod and the music i purchased to ONE computer.

and just for the record, everything worked fine until i downloaded this much-ballyhooed lastest version of itunes. ever since i downloaded THAT, nothing has worked properly.

i will appreciate it very much if you can remedy this.

well, it turns out that the nice young man at the other end actually CAN use his back end wizardry to tell exactly which thing comes from which account and he only needs me to do this for one song to verify that it's really my account.


and then it turns out, itunes, that the whole problem is that there are about a hundred songs that simply aren't available through your store anymore even though i bought them fair and square.

and your nice young man very helpfully clears my purchase history and gives my account permission to download again all the songs i have purchased, which, by the way, ARE STILL ON MY COMPUTER.

so now if i want to be able to authorize my machine to play music i own, i have to re-download them. minus the hundred or so that still are on my machine, but the latest version of itunes won't authorize me to play.

ok, let;s recap:
i downloaded the most recent version of itunes which broke my music library.
so i had to deauthorize and reauthorize several times. and i am missing about a hundred dollars worth of music that i already purchased legally and the best you can do is to deauthorize two accounts and then allow me to re-download the music that i already have on my computer?
i am still missing a (roughly) hundred dollars worth of legally purchased music and i STILL can't authorize my computer to play what i already own.
and i STILL have two unconsolidated accounts that are using up authorizations on one computer.
and i run into problems accessing both accounts and every time i go in to the itunes store i have to try to change my password because your system appears not to like that i have two accounts.
the way i'm looking at it, all of this "assistance" has left me with a great deal less than i started with.
so here's what i did:
i restored the old version of itunes that wasn't broken.
i restored my music library as much as i could, including the music that for some reason is no longer available in the form in which i bought it.
i re-located by hand a number of files that itunes couldn't find.
this is what i expect you to do:
i expect to consolidate the two accounts so that i can get into them.
i expect to be refunded for any purchases i can no longer use because your new software severed my access to it.
i expect my account to be cleaned up and left with one authorization to play what i already own.

in the meantime i am examining other, easier to use alternative to itunes.
i tunes used to be easy to used and to organize but i am getting really sick of having the "improved" version break what i already own. i've spent a LOT of hours on this project.
i expect you to fix what you broke so that i can use the remainder of my account balance without having anything else break.
i realize you have spent some time on this, but you have done me no favors and left me a great deal worse off than i was.

did you read that part, itunes? the part about finding other  alternatives to itunes?

this is how you create piracy: you make it much more difficult to buy and maintain legally purchased material than it is to fill my library with easily obtained downloads from illegal sources. i am so sick of this struggle with you that i do not think i will ever again tell my family i want itunes giftcards.

i have downloaded an open source media player and i am learning how to use it. if i can find a way to manage my music library without you, i am done with you now.

i don't want to spend any more money in your store. i don't want to buy things ten percent of which may capriciously disappear simply because you "improved" your software.

there's no reason for me to buy things that you will only steal back.

get bent.



GDad said...

Your example is one of the couple of (what I thought were) fictional cautionary tales about digital versus physical media ownership.

JLR said...


I wish all those in the music industry (the labels, the distributors, etc.) would realize that most people will happily pay for music if it's reasonably priced and easy to download. But when you make people jump through these kinds of hoops, and you can't access the music you already paid for, it's too tempting to just go online and find it somewhere with a free and easy download. I'm not saying piracy is ok, but I'm less and less bothered by it because this kind of thing keeps happening.

That's one reason why I use amazon for most of my music downloads. It's not really that much better than iTunes, but I hate it slightly less.


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