Feeds

Apple restricts ringtone rights

'You'll pay twice. And you'll like it'

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Yes, it seems unjust that Apple can charge you twice for an iPhone ringtone. But that's the way the fair-use cookie crumbles.

As Apple supremo Steve Jobs announced last week, iTunes is now offering roughly a million ringtones for the iPhone - a $399 handheld that debuted little more than two months ago at $599 - and purchasing these 30-second musical snippets is a two-step process. First, you pay 99 cents for a complete song, then you pay another 99 cents to turn it into a ringtone.

You'd think that, once you own a song, you'd have free rein to lop off a few seconds and slap them onto your phone without paying an extra fee. And in most cases, you do. If you purchase a song on CD, for instance, turning into a ringtone isn't a problem - as long as you don't sell your 30-second snippet to someone else.

"If you're just using the ringtone on your own, most would agree that's fair use," Daniel E. Venglarik, an intellectual property attorney with the Dallas, Texas-based law firm Munck Butrus PC, told The Reg. "Most copyright scholars say that you can rip a song from a CD into MP3 format and listen to it on an MP3 player, and ringtones are close enough to that to fall under the same penumbra."

But Apple and its music partners see this penumbra a little differently. Legally, you can't convert an iTunes song into a ringtone without paying that extra 99 cents. iTunes's end user licensing agreement forbids you from doing otherwise, and this trumps any notion of fair use.

"In this day and age, a court would side with Apple on this," Venglarik said. "They're the licensed distributor for the copyrighted work, and they can constrain use as much as they want."

Basically, Venglarik explains, Apple is free to do "whatever the market will bear" If people are willing to pay twice for ringtones, Apple can make them pay twice.

Of course, if you feel like breaking the law, there are ways around that double price-tag. Apple recently cracked down on illegal iPhone ringtones, but Engadget seems to have found a workaround. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.