Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Mental note: never subscribe to any Apple Service

Well, this is really quite disturbing: Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

I don’t subscribe to all that many things, because my internet connection is rather poor at the best of times (bright sunny winter mornings) and absolutely terrible at other times (all summer).

And I have generally not worried too much about, say, Amazon stealing my Kindle books, because I figure the public outcry would stop them if they tried.

But listen to this:

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber.

“Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?”

“Yes,” she replied.

….

When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.

This is exactly as horrible as you would expect. This composer found that Apple had deleted his own music and destroyed those files completely. It converted his WAV files to Mp3 files and destroyed the original files.

This guy had backed up his files, so he’s okay. I guess that’s the equivalent of putting your Kindle books on your hard drive via Calibre. Of course, this problem concerns Apple reaching into your computer and deleting files off your actual hard drive.

Unbelievable. Appalling.

People can’t sue because of the terms of use for Apple Music.

For about ten years, I’ve been warning people, “Hang onto your media. One day, you won’t buy a movie. You’ll buy the right to watch a movie, and that movie will be served to you. If the companies serving the movie don’t want you to see it, or they want to change something, they will have the power to do so. They can alter history, and they can make you keep paying for things that you formerly could have bought. Information will be a utility rather than a possession. Even information that you yourself have created will require unending, recurring payments just to access.”

I would have thought this guy was a little too paranoid. But this Apple Music thing makes me reassess my optimism.

So if any of you are using this Apple Music thing, well, you really may want to click through and read the whole post.

I know I’ll be keeping a closer eye on this kind of issue than I have in the past. And I resent having to. I sure hope that some kind of legal protection is put in place to utterly forbid corporations from playing fast and loose with people’s property the way Apple Music is doing.

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6 Comments Mental note: never subscribe to any Apple Service

  1. Mike S.

    I don’t use Apple Music, but for what it’s worth there are a number of articles that say that it doesn’t work that way. E.g., http://www.imore.com/no-apple-music-not-deleting-tracks-your-hard-drive-unless-you-tell-it

    Obviously I can’t be sure of what happened to James Pinkstone’s files. But the person he spoke to at Apple being confidently and comprehensively wrong matches a lot of my phone support experience. (“It’s supposed to work that way!” Sure it is, Amber.)

    I really doubt the fine print in their user agreement would protect Apple from a PR nightmare and possible legal action if they’re really mass-wiping people’s files without getting explicit and knowing consent.

    For the most part, I only buy electronic media that can be practically backed up in a way I control. (E.g., mp3 tracks from iTunes or Amazon.) Or else I’ll subscribe to services like Netflix where I’m temporarily renting access to a huge wodge of stuff.

    If a service does manage to start deleting stuff out of my directories as is being suggested here (and I don’t catch it before it’s cycled off my backups) that’ll be a problem. But I’m hopeful that’s unlikely to happen without my hearing about it.

  2. Rachel Neumeier

    Well, that’s reassuring. Thanks for allowing me to go cautiously back ti being an optimist!

  3. Mike S.

    Though (possibly only after the shaming they’ve gotten for it) Google is offering a refund on the Revolv hub purchase price.

    Google’s habit of unceremoniously dropping support for things does worry me given how much of my life is in their products by now. Especially since I use things like Google Voice and Google+ that aren’t exactly current hotbeds of activity.

  4. SarahZ

    It’s one thing to drop support, but intentionally breaking a product is different. The erosion of ownership is very worrisome across the board. There’s a lot of weird legal questions raised by business practices like that.

  5. mona

    This (the erosion of ownership part) is what’s happening with software too. At the moment, you can still buy products like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop etc, but they’ve also got a subscription, with monthly or yearly fees. I get why they do it, and why it might make sense from a consumer’s perspective, but it still irritates me.

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