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Thursday, 13 September 2007


Funny because here in Europe Adobe automatically gives you both license keys, Mac & Windows. All you have to do is buy a second DVD box (without license key), costs about 25$.

A way to defeat DRM... at what cost? AAC/MP3 are the JPEGs of audio!

Let me put that in photography terms: Yes, you can remove the digital watermark from that stock-photo you just bought, just save the 10 mega pixel RAW file as 1 megapixel JPG at 30% quality and then open it in Photoshop. That way, the watermark is gone...

When you copy the iTunes songs to CDR, are you burning them as an Audio CD or simply a data CD with the files?

Presuming the former, won't the "reload" (burn?) take a (negligable) hit on the quality during re-compression?

First, I'd love to know where you're from, Hans. Because in Finland Adobe certainly doesn't give you both licenses. Can you confirm your claim? I've recently talked about this with Adobe rep as I was thinking about changing platform and she said that it's only possible to change platform if I bought an upgrade to my CreativeSuite2 and called them when installing. I might have to check this with Adobe again though....

And about burning those MP3s on a CD. Chris, I believe that when you burn them on a CD as data, you're only burning the data as zeros and ones. No compression happening here...they're excactly as they were on the drive. DRM and all. And Pascal, if you burn them as an audio CD, you won't be getting rid of any data either. As audio CD can contain a higher dynamic range than average mp3 or whatever compressed audio, you can burn the files as an audio CD without worries of losing quality. And after burning it, you can also recompress it again without sacrificing any quality. You just need to make sure you're not compressing it any more than it was compressed before burning. And nobody is saying you should compress your audio to bitrate of 96kb/s. Most people can't hear any difference between original CD and compressed audio after the bitrate gets high enough (I think around 192) So the comparision with 10MP RAW -> 1MP jpg @ 30% quality is WAY out of proportion....

You burn them as audio cd, so you decompress them and then you need to recompress them....

This is the all-digital version of the so-called 'analog-hole.'

Well, actually, you do not need to recompress them, if you don't mind lugging uncompressed audio or Apple-lossless around then the audio quality remains the same as the original: crappy, 128Kbit AAC file. 128Kbit AAC compares nicely with JPEG 60% or somewhere in that ballpark. At first glance you don't really notice it, but your brain is working harder to compensate for lost information.

Just buy a CD and rip it. No DRM, much higher quality.

In my experience, AAC recompresses pretty well (better than MP3 did)...use a slightly higher than 128 kbit bitrate and you probably won't be able to tell the difference.

You can also leave the tracks lossless when you re-rip them.

i recently started a photoblog on the life of animals that live on the street,i want to link exchange with you(pleeeeeeease!),it's called stray and is located at:

please visit,see you there

My experience with CS2 is that Adobe allowed me to purchase, for a nominal "cost of goods" fee, a second set of CDs for the other (in my case, Mac) platform. This was because my license allowed simultaneous installation (not use) on several machines. I had to probe a bit, and ask for this, but it didn't seem all that difficult at the time.

As an audio CD, Apple's DRM protected files are MPEG-4. The audio on a CDR is uncompressed AIFF. There is no re-compression. Any quality loss happens when the "master" sound file is rendered to protected MP4 by Apple. If quality is one's ultimate goal, you don't buy compressed audio in the first place. In fact there are many who will argue that the standard, 16 bit 44,000 khz recording, for Compact Disc audio is inadequate for true High Fidelity reproduction. Ask Mike, the audio crowd makes the most serious pixel peepers pale. If your store-bought CDs sound good enough to you...so will CDs made from iTunes downloads.

Apple uses AAC, or Advanced Audio Codec, to encode DRM'd iTunes files. AAC is a brand name for "MPEG-4 Audio". The files sometimes also have the extensions ".mp4" or ".m4a". The MPEG folks are trying to recommend that people use ".m4a" to distinguish audio files from MPEG-4 video files. AAC is, in many ways, the pair of AVC, the Advanced Video Codec, which is used on HD-DVD/Blue-Ray discs and is coming to your cable or satellite provider for HD content.

AAC, like Ogg Vorbis, does a much better job of encoding music than MP3. But any lossy format will lose audio data. You can create a high quality MP3 with a large bitrate, but you end up with a very large file. AAC and Ogg Vorbis, have two advantages over MP3. First, they compress to smaller files for the same bitrate. Thus, you can use a higher bitrate than MP3 and retain the same file size. Second, they do a better job of selecting what to "lose" in the lossy encoding. That is, MP3 removes more things you can hear, and AAC/Vorbis remove more things you can't.

Even though AAC is better than MP3, you're still losing data. You're at the mercy of the person encoding for iTunes. Whatever encoding options they choose, that data is lost before you even buy the song.

When you burn the AAC file to an audio CD, you lose no additional data. The uncompressed AIFF audio on the CD is exactly what your AAC player would decode on your computer.

However, when you re-import the audio CD to your computer, you are going through another compression step. Whether you use AAC again, Ogg Vorbis, or MP3, the encoder is going to make guesses about what part of the audio to "lose". In a perfect world, it would be identical to the first encoding. The world is not perfect. Thus, you lose some more audio quality on this re-encoding step. To be fair, it's nowhere near as bad as the first encoding from master song to AAC.

It's not negligible, though. Think of JPEG. If you open a JPEG, then re-save it to a new file, you will *not* get the exact same file. The new file will have a slightly lower quality as the JPEG encoder tries to throw out the data. This is one reason why people doing work on JPEGs often open them once, save as TIFF/PSD/XCF, then do all their work on the lossless file. They save the final product in JPEG, with only one step of degradation.

As photographers many of us are concerned about image copyright and fair use (read appropriate compensation) of our photographs. Should we not extend this right to musicians. If you really need more than the 7-9 copies of a song you get from i-tunes then buy the CD.

William, piracy is piracy and fair use is fair use. When I buy a photograph to put in the bedroom, I can later decide to put it in the living room instead without the photographer caring or having any influence over it. This is fair use.

Apple's (and others) DRM, however does prevent me from moving the work to another venue without their express consent even though copyright restrictions as defined by law do not. DRM clearly tramples on our rights and yet in more and more countries circumventing DRM to exercise our rights is now a crime. (DMCA, EUCD, etc)

People like to make the distinction between "subscription" music services (Rhapsody, Napster) and "to own" services, like iTunes. The sad fact is that even though Apple says you own the music, you do not. Though I doubt this will happen any time soon, chances are Apple will switch off their service at some point in the future. Then you will find you were a subscriber after all because without Apple's servers to authorize your new computer, the files are the digital equivalent of paper weights.

Circumventing DRM on music files you purchased for your own use has nothing to do with piracy and nothing to do with the copyright violations photographers care about.

My personal way of dealing with this is simply to not buy DRM protected music, not to mention wanting something more than a 128kbit file when I pay for it. I have bought some tracks from the iTunes store now that some 256kbit non-DRM files are available, but for albums I still buy the CDs; it is cheaper, has no DRM and is higher quality. It is unfortunate, because I would no doubt have bought hundreds of tracks off them by now if all music was high quality non-DRM.

Bas, thank you for your thoughtful reply. Let me explain my view more clearly. Before the digital age, if I purchased a record or cassette tape, it was against the law for me to make a copy of that for someone else. If I bought an LP and wanted a cassette copy to play in my car tapedeck, I could make a copy. In essence, by copying I was depriving the copyright holder be it the artist or record company of more revenue from their work. Of course most of us did that, anyway. Though with each copy the sound quality tended to decrease. In the digital age it is even easier to make copies and those copies do not suffer the same degredation. If I buy a photograph of course I can do what I want with it, hang it wherever I want. But do I have the right, moral and legal, to scan that one copyrighted photograph made by another photographer and reproduce it myself so I have one for the office, one for each room in my house, and several to email to friends who might want one? Maybe I want different sizes of the photo, too. The photos from my wedding, pre digital photography, had copyright notices on the back in the hopes that I could not take them to the photolab around the corner for cheap copies. My wedding photographer wanted to insure she got compensated for her efforts.
My view is the way we treat a copyrighted song should be similar to how we would want our photographs treated. "Not a sermon, just a thought."

It was never against the law to make someone a copy at least in the US. In fact, the courts specifically allowed you to make copies off of radio broadcasts unto cassettes.

What William is stating is moral rights as it applies to copyright law. Ironically this applies to European countries, in the US there is moral rights provision to copyright law. Copyright law as originally intended was to encourage artistry not to protect their works which was why US copyright was specifically limited to 17 years, it was created to rip off European works.

Joel's description is right on.

But one thing to keep in mind is that the AAC codec is far more sophisticated than that in the fairly old JPEG format. It probably deals with multiple compression cycles much better than JPEG.

[Speaking of which; here's a very good article on exactly how JPEG compression works: http://www.ams.org/featurecolumn/archive/image-compression.html]

Bas' concern about iTMS going away and causing your purchased music to become non-functional is a very real and valid concern. In the past year this happened to DRM content from stable companies like google (for purchased videos) and Microsoft (the MSN pre-Zune music store).

While Apple looks stable now, it really wasn't that long ago that Michael Dell suggested the best thing for Apple to do was to shut down and give the stock holders their money back (ironically, Apple's market cap now exceeds Dell, who ain't doing too good). So who knows what the future will bring.

For this reason I rip all my iTMS purchased music to audio CDs and back again into non-DRM MP3. Sure, I lose quality but they sound good enough for me (and they're just backups at this point anyway).

Besides, if I were that much of an audiophile I wouldn't be buying compressed DRM music in the first place!

we don't need itunes tips ! we need Zeiss Ikon review !

I've noticed a trend lately. I buy new vinyl and it includes either a CD or access codes. The codes allow me to enter the band's website and download the mp3 files for free (usually includes bonus cuts). I wish all labels would do this. It allows me to enjoy hi fi sound when I want and just plain ol' crappy sound while exercising or at work.


I just completed my platform exchange. The process took about 30 minutes and all I paid was shipping (about $6.00). You’ll need to complete a Letter of Software Destruction which you can find on Adobe’s website at http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=tn_15327&sliceId=2. Overall, the process was pretty painless.

Christopher Lane

William, I understand your analogy, but it is not quite correct. I just bought myself a new Mac. The old one will soon be completely wiped, including all music that was on it. But without Apple's permission I can NOT play any DRM crippled songs on my new Mac. This isn't about creating an extra copy, it is about moving the physical song to a new place. Like moving the photograph from the bedroom to the living room.

On top of that, it has long been established by the courts of most nations, including the US, that making a tape or any other copy of a record you bought to listen to yourself in a different location (car, walkman, etc) is perfectly legal and nothing has been put forward that indicates it is any less legal for music stored as files on a computer system.

Just because I am not supposed to make a copy and give it to someone else doesn't mean they should take away any other rights, yet DRM does and is in turn protected by the DMCA.

As for photography, I am not sure you would be allowed to make a copy for your office. I would not be surprised of that is actually legal, but don't quote me on that!

The wedding photographer situation is less of a copyright issue than it is a contract issue. many wedding photographers are like Gillette; they do the work on the day at a loss and make up the difference by selling prints and this is set in an actual contract you sign with them. If you have signed that contract you would certainly be in violation of that if you did copy them yourself.

I personally think that it is an old fashioned way to work in the age of mini labs and digital photography anyway. Even five years ago some of my friends hired a rather good wedding photographer, but one that didn't want to be bothered with printing beyond the proofs. So he asked just about $3000 at the time (five years and several awards later that has gone up a bit, I hear) and they ended up with the proofs, 1000 negs and lab-scanned CDs. (and references on good labs to order prints from) He still has copyright, but they have a very generous license for them to print as many copies as they like for themselves and others. They only thing they can't do is sell them.

He makes good money, they can make all the copies they want and still didn't pay over the odds - everyone is happy.

Mike, maybe you should specify that just copying to a CD-R will not do the trick, you need to burn it to Music-CD format. Copying to a CD-R is the same as copying to another hard disk, it does not change the files at all, so far as I know.

Yes you have to burn them as Audio CDs and not data cds.

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