Amazon MP3

Remember all the fuss a while back about DRM-protected MP3 files, and how the industry was (thankfully!) moving away from them?  Well, it appears that not everyone really has abandoned the practice, even if they claim to have done so. It looks like some companies are still placing personal information inside the music files you buy and download.  Hit the break for the details [via TechCrunch] and some visual evidence.

Watermarked DRM free digital music

This is a screen shot from TechCrunch that shows a downloaded song opened in a text editor.  Notice the area circled in red.  Yep, that's the name of the fellow who bought the file.  Now I can't be certain where the file was bought, but I am certain it wasn't bought at Amazon's MP3 store.

Why?

Because Amazon has resisted the record companies urging to watermark songs with user information.  Unlike iTunes and others, Amazon is one of the companies that is not putting your name (or any other private info) into each and every song you buy. Take a peek HERE  to see who is selling you out and who isn't.

Have a look at this quote from TechCrunch by an anonymous music industry insider:

Hidden in purchased music files from popular stores such as Apple and Walmart is information to identify the buyer and/or the transaction. You won’t find it disclosed in their published terms of use. It’s nowhere in their support documentation. There’s no mention in the digital receipt. Consumers are largely oblivious to this, but it could have future ramifications as the music industry takes another stab at locking down music files.

This is a 180 degree turn from DRM free songs, and something that was supposed to have been abandoned.  Sneaky.

Amazon's MP3 store is supported by Google and included in most Android devices.  Mark this as another area where the consumer's best interests are being looked out for by big G.  Open source mixes well with freedom to use what you paid for as you like, and Google's choice to support the Amazon MP3 store fits right in.  Don't be evil. Thanks Amazon and Google, e-hugs all around.

Unfortunately for our friends whose only solution is iTunes, they are at the mercy of a different kind of corporate giant - one who appears to want control over where and how you can listen to your music.  What's next?  Muzak getting piped into the walled garden?  Save me before they play a duet of Shatner and Jobs signing Beatles remakes, please.