The Sanity Clause iTunes Terms and Conditions
I pushed the “buy this” icon next to the Grinderman single, “Heathen Child” on Saturday and was redirected to a page that said that iTunes had changed its terms and conditions and I’d need to agree to them if I wanted to complete the sale. Am I just getting old and so time seems to fly by, or do these terms and conditions really seem to change every couple of months? Usually I just hit the agree button and get on with it. There isn’t much of a choice. Disagree and don’t buy the song. Or agree and buy it. This time I emailed the terms and conditions to myself 56 (iPhone screen size) pages, and they make fascinating reading.
First of all, I’d never really stopped to consider how a credit card and iTunes mate. Reading how a straight credit card transaction might register as a series of micro-payments, while a voucher registers as something whole, upfront, was bizarre. It reminded me of that David Attenborough series, Life in the Undergrowth, where he put a microscopic camera into an ant colony and observed how a species of butterfly ‘charmed’ ants into caring for its chrysalis.
I remember about ten years ago, seeing a contract issued by an American record company that said something like it claimed ownership of the rights for the object in question, a music video, in any format currently existing or might be invented in the future, and on this or any other planet.
“Apple is not responsible for typographic errors.”
Once I’d reached the end of the 56 pages I felt that I didn’t own the music I owned and that I should decant it in some way – onto 786 CD’s if I do it album by album – and use my computer as a CD player.
Mostly it was the territorial restrictions that caught my attention.
“This service is available to you only in Australia, its territories, and possessions. You agree not to use or attempt to use the Service from outside these locations. Apple may use technologies to verify your compliance.”
Trade restrictions have existed as long as I’ve been buying records, since the punk rock era. I remember that there was a speakeasy quality to buying import records, stores down back alleys, records under counters.
With the punk rock bands everything was refreshingly open: bands in Brisbane, Australia; Athens, Georgia; and Akron, Ohio, could make their own records that reflected their own lives and interests and send them around the world.
I don’t have any interest in joining Apple’s Ping social networking service within iTunes 10, although I am aware now – after reading the contract – that it’s my responsibility to keep upgrading iTunes in order to make sure that I’ll have access to my music library.
I’ve been reading reports on tech blogs about Ping, that it only recognises iTunes purchases as music – and so the Beatles music, which isn’t available on iTunes – doesn’t register, and that it’s already riddled by spam and scams. I just want the simple, dumb stuff. A weariness has set in and I want to take a screwdriver to my computer and remove all of the filigree detailing I won’t ever use.
I’ve now bought my favourite album – Duke Ellington’s Blues In Orbit – on vinyl, on cassette, on CD and now on iTunes.
I’m going to buy the Grinderman 2 album on CD, the deluxe version with the 56 page booklet, from Phoenix Music in Potts Point. I went in there today and it isn’t in yet. I looked at the basic CD version, which is pretty spectacular in its own right, like a graphic novel, with illustrations that Nick commissioned from an artist who’d drawn cartoons of Grinderman and sent them to him. The vinyl version isn’t in stock yet either. I asked the owner of Phoenix Music if vinyl records are selling again. They never really went away she replied. Do people still have record players I asked. Some people just want the object she said.