July 6th, 2007 • 4:01 pm
The other day, I wrote a post about the record industry and online music sales in which I mentioned, as an example, that the latest release by British artist Paul Weller was being sold by Apple’s iTunes, but only the U.K. store, which means that people outside the U.K. cannot buy it.
Well, today I got another e-mail from the official Paul Weller mailing list indicating that the new EP was available not only from the U.K. iTunes store, but also from a store called 7digital.
That other store is also U.K.-based and sells its wares in British pounds (the three-track EP costs £1.77), but the big difference is, of course, that the store is not limited to U.K. customers and that anyone from elsewhere can purchase the tracks sold by the store. In addition, this particular EP is available in 192 kbps MP3 format, which means that it is DRM-free and fully Mac-compatible.
So I am able to get this online-only release from where I live in Canada after all—but no thanks to Apple. To me, the fact that this release is available from 7digital also indicates that the restrictions placed by Apple’s iTunes, which limits the sale to U.K. customers, do not result from label demands and are simply not justified for this particular release (unless 7digital is wrong to allow me to buy these).
Of course, the reality is that the U.K. iTunes store is reserved for U.K. customers by default, probably due to the distribution rights of many of the tracks it sells. But it means that, even for those tracks where no restrictions apply, the iTunes store still applies its geographic restrictions—and that is simply very wrong.
What we really need is a world-wide iTunes store that sells tracks with no geographic restrictions to anyone anywhere in the world. This store would only be able to sell tracks with the appropriate distribution rights, but it would be a start—until the record labels and their armies of lawyers sort out their own mess and finally decide to join us in the 21st century.