When you buy a track on iTunes, it syncs to the specific account you used to buy it. Apple provides no means to allow you to transfer ownership of anything you bought in the iTunes Store. However, when I go to Best Buy, I can buy a CD, and after I’m done listening to it, I can resell that CD to anyone I choose for any price I want, as long as the buyer is willing to buy it. The same thing goes for clothes, books, shoes, TVs, computers, beds, cars, Nerf Guns, yo-yos, 16th-century Spanish Art, etc.
So what most people don’t realize is when you buy a song on iTunes, you are essentially renting the song from Apple. Your “purchase” does not actually mean you have ownership of it. This process is similar to BlockBuster.
So why does iTunes only allow you to rent songs, and not charge a little bit more money for outright ownership?
iTunes wants more money.
Nowadays, the music industry is no longer about music — it’s about distribution.
If the music industry was actually interested in music, there would be no legal battles over ownership because all music created under any label would be made easily available to all music services. You would not have artists making exclusive contracts to only sell music on Rhapsody, Microsoft Marketplace, or iTunes. You would have labels releasing all music in one format to all music services.
This is the last thing the music industry wants to happen, however. Record companies would be much happier, and get much more money, if things continued the way they do. A consumer “buys” an MP3 song from a music service, then technology advances and the consumer has to re-buy that same song in a new format.
The best solution for consumers, would be actually buying songs, not renting them. It might be more costly; however, we would be able to do whatever we want with them after buying them.
Unfortunately, because there is no legal precedent in America for the redistribution of digital goods, record companies are able to do whatever they want. This is why people like Bruce Willis — a.k.a. people with enough money to battle record companies — need to bring litigation against corporations like Apple, so questions of user ownership can be answered in court.
Regrettably, Bruce Willis is not suing Apple, so all of these questions of ownership and digital goods will be swept under the rug of money by the broom of the music industry.