Moses Supposes: Google in your pocket, Apple in your mind

Moses Avalon is one of the nation’s leading music-business consultants and artists’-rights advocates and is the author of a top-selling music business reference, Confessions of a Record Producer. More of his articles can be found at

Another chapter in the double standard of music and technology. Google protects its stuff, but the music and content biz should give it up for free?

While Google is hard at work trying to make it possible for the public to steal any creative work you can cache in a browser, they are also working hard to make sure that that same public doesn’t steal from them.

The Android platform (Sprint, Verizon) that Google announced at the end of July in Tech Crunch will incorporate a security device that will make sure you don’t download bootleg copies of an app.  And there is only one trade-off — a total invasion of your privacy.

The protector works by sending a ping back to Google every time the app. is launched in a mobile phone.  This ping contains location data as well as user data that will or should correspond to the purchase data for the app.  If there is a mismatch, the app. shuts down.

Not a bad idea, except that the device requires that your phone be communicating with a mysterious cloud system that always knows when you’re using the app. and where you are.  When did you agree to let little brother into your side pocket? Answer:  when you clicked on the user agreement in the app.

Will this measure come to Apple?  It already has, sort of.  Though no Apple-based apps have this connect or shut-down feature, the App Store user agreement makes room for such devices in the future, and you can be sure of one thing: if it works for Macy’s, then Gimbels will be doing it soon.

Why doesn’t the music industry do something like this with song files to protect them from piracy?  Well, they have tried. But every time the industry comes up with a method, the “public” (and when I say “public,” I really mean the PR machine of the tech companies) cries out that music should be trade-able freely, and that the nasty record companies are invading privacy.

If you recall the Sony debacle with its copy-protected CDs back in 2005, I think it was.  The “public” cried foul because a widget was uploaded off the CD into your PC to monitor the file’s use and distribution.  MP3s cannot carry any DRM, but an AAC (iTunes-formatted song files) does. But Apple shamed EMI out of using DRM, and now EMI is on life support.  Meanwhile, other labels refused to allow DRM-free files to be sold on iTunes and were lambasted in the press and by the “public” for being douche bags.

So once again, the double standard prevails. While technology companies do whatever they can to protect their software and the “public” seems accepting of it — even encouraging of it — the music biz takes pie in the face any time they try to do the exact same thing.

The public seems to have no problem with Google or Apple knowing where you are all the time and what you’re doing with those apps you paid for, but music that people steal should be protected under the 4th Amendment (privacy)?!?

Can you imagine a user agreement for a digital record store that had a clause stating, “We can track your location when you play the song, and if you stole the song, we’ll delete it from your device”?

My god, a pack of civil-rights lawyers would crawl on their belly to file a class-action against us.

What the frack?

PS: I wonder what professor Lawrence Lessig would say about all this?

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