Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Music: Are you ready for that? Driving your car down a desert highway listening to the seventies and eighties rise like zombies from the rippling sand? I hope so.

The Ringtone Racket

Jerry Stratton, September 13, 2007

John Gruber adds his voice to the ringtone debate:

The whole ringtones racket is predicated on the notion that ringtones are something different than songs. This notion is bullshit. You don’t turn songs into ringtones; you treat them as ringtones. They’re not even a different file format. It’s just a different context for playing the same song on the same device.

The distinction between ringtones and songs is an artificial marketing construct. It is a misconception, albeit a widely held one, that there is any foundation in copyright law for this, i.e. that an honest consumer is obligated to pay for ringtones separately from “regular” songs for some legal reason. Not so.… If you have the right to play a song, you have the right to use it as a ringtone on your phone.

From the inception of the iTunes Store, Apple has done right by its customers. The iTunes Store was conceived and designed as something customers would enjoy. It competes fairly, both against traditional music sales on physical media such as CDs, and against illegal bootlegging. It can’t beat bootlegging on price, but it can beat it in terms of convenience and user experience.

iTunes’s new ringtone feature, though, is the first time Apple has created a feature that is only usable with iTunes Store tracks. Burning to disc, transferring to peripheral devices such as iPods and Apple TV, playing over the air to Airport Express—in all these cases, the features work with all songs in your library, wherever they came from.

For any song you already own on CD, Apple is asking you to pay three times for it in order to use it as a ringtone on your iPhone: once for the CD you’ve already purchased, again to buy a needless duplicate of the track from the iTunes Store, and a third time to generate the ringtone.

More at The Ringtones Racket.

In response to Rip, Mix, Pay: Apple has saved me $400. I’ll be renewing my Sprint contract for a year when it expires next month.