iCloud Music Library adds DRM without buying you dinner first


iCloud Music Library is almost identical to iTunes Match with one glaring issue.
Photo: Apple

Well iCloud Music Library is pissing people off already. The new service almost identical to iTunes Match has a DRM problem. Turned on, iCloud Music Library is taking the music you rightfully own and place in your iTunes library and automatically adding DRM protection to it. In essence, it’s placing a lock on music that’s already yours.

On top of iCloud Music Library problems already plaguing some users, Senior Macworld Contributor Kirk McElhearn first discovered the DRM issue and wrote about it on his blog. He’s a subscriber to iTunes Match for $24.99 per year. Previously when he would rip an album and add it to his iTunes library, the service would search through the iTunes database, match the songs, and save them for access on all devices. If he needed to save one of the files, he’d get a hassle-free, DRM-free download.

iCloud Music Library, included with an Apple Music subscription, serves the same purpose except when it comes time to download anything you find your files locked up with DRM – yes, the files you put there in the first place from the CD you possess.

Additionally, if you cancel your Apple Music subscription, you lose access to all of your music whether you ripped it and added it yourself or not. If you’re planning on ripping music from albums, adding it to iTunes, then throwing the CD out, don’t do it. If you ever lose your data or cancel your subscription, iCloud Music Library gets to keep the songs and you’re without the music you bought.

Furthermore, if you wish to continue using iTunes Match instead of iCloud Music Library, it’s still available for purchase for non-Apple Music subscribers.

  • Robert Del Junco

    It’s not yours. You do not own it. You have a license to listen to it.

    • Rob LeFebvre

      Yes, but iTunes Match does the same thing and does not stamp DRM all over music you’ve purchased on a CD and ripped to your Mac.

      • Robert Del Junco

        Regardless, this article is misleading people into believe their legal rights are being violated when they are not.

      • Robert Lewis

        Yes and no. Apple is taking the liberty of replacing the files you own with ones that you do not own. Many people are going to try the trial and have the awful discovery that the music they did own disappears when they unsubscribe and most will not have back ups. Big, big mistake on Apple’s part.

      • Robert Del Junco

        I agree that this is a bad situation for the user, no doubt. I want to make clear though what our rights our as purchasers of these tracks. The last thing anyone wants is an uninformed public getting angry over things that simply are not true.

      • Robert0

        Your legalities are lacking. You are permitted to make a protection copy of any CD you buy for personal use (not for distribution to others). Apple’s imposition of a barrier is just that; an imposition.

      • Kr00

        Digital licensing rights are completely different to the license you get when you buy a CD/DVD and are different again with iTunes Match. Because nobody reads these limited rights, they assume they own the product regardless, when in fact they don’t. You can’t even Will your digital music or movies to anyone when you die. The iTunes Match service is a subscription that allows you a digital twin of your physical song available in the cloud at best quality for all your devices. The “imposition” as you call it, is a protective right for the artist and the service provider which prevents copying or pirating. Its simple. People may not like it, but it is the way of everything digital today.

      • Evelyn2563

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      • billyricky

        “Best Quality”? Hogwash. My CDs are ripped to Apple Lossless – if I were to use iTunes Match, it would replace the songs with inferior compressed versions. As noted by others, if I have the mono versions of early Beatles songs (the way they were meant to be, and the way they sound best), iTunes Match will replace them with the hokey-sounding stereo versions (for me, this is an issue on the first 2 Beatles albums – some people prefer the mono for the first 4 or 5 albums).

        If you care about your music – the sound quality, the particular song versions you have collected, the cover art and other metadata, don’t trust them to iTunes Match.

      • Kr00

        Show me a service that does it better. That’s the best quality you’ll find for that kind of service.

      • snapshot1

        Only if they delete the originals off itunes.

      • Erique Lamont

        Just another nutty idea Apple throws at its loyal, unsophisticated, buyers, Yosemite is has been full of ‘gotch-yas’

    • Robert Lewis

      If you RIP a CD you own, it is yours via the fair use standard within copyright law. If you sign up for iTunes Music, it replaces the songs you RIP’d (the ones you own) with Apple files that have DRM on them, hence they remove the songs you do in fact own and put their locked versions in your library. If you unsubscribe from Apple Music, their locked files go away and you have reload the files you own (either re-RIP or from a backup). Does that make sense?

      • Robert Del Junco

        Again, you don’t own the song. What you own is the right to listen to the track in the form given to you. I would agree the DRM lock up is shitty, but if you lose an album (physical) does that mean you have a right to ask the artist to replace it for free because you purchased a previous copy? NO. Just because you purchase a song in one medium does not give a user the right to access the song in every medium an artist places it on. Thats why its a license. Copyright holders hold the power with which to limit their licenses by, and complete unfettered access to their music is not something they are giving you when you buy the album on CD.

      • William D

        Ultimately your rights depend on the country you are in.

      • Robert Lewis

        Oh, this is true, I made the assumption we were all talking US, which of course is a foolish thing to assume on my part.

      • Robert Lewis

        ahh, I see the the detail you are parsing now.

        First I think you are talking about something else. Your comment:
        “Just because you purchase a song in one medium does not give a user the right to access the song in every medium an artist places it on”

        Is 100% correct. You are right, but that is not the issue here at all.

        No one is asking for the downloaded song for free. We are concerned with keeping the digital files that we are legally allowed to create under US fair use laws.

        Apple, it appears, is taking those files off my machine and replacing them.

        As for the lost CD analogy, it is misapplied. If I lose my CD, it is my fault. I a third party comes into my home and takes it, it is their fault and I have a right to seek its return or other compensation for it.

        No one here is demanding anything from the artist or publisher. We are upset with the distributor who has taken our files and replaced them.

        Are we in agreement that if I buy a CD I have the right, under fair use, to record the contents of that CD to a cassette for personal use? Can the artist, publisher or distributor come and take that cassette from me? I in fact own that CD and I own that cassette, as

        This is what we are talking about. If I own the CD, and therefore the rights to listen to it as well as make copies to different media, I am not asking (nor demanding) for the song in other media from the artist, publisher or distributor.

      • rob_d1

        Yes, we are in agreement regarding your rights as to the CD owner. I think I made in the error in assuming most people who own music on itunes own the music through digital downloads; I threw in CD purchasers improperly.

        I do take issue with Apple’s continued ability to push music, or remove music from my computer (recall the U2 fiasco a year or two ago). My point was tangential and made as only a form of clarification regarding rights as music purchasers. My apologies on that front for not being more clear.

      • Robert Lewis

        Totally cool. I think we are on the same page then.

        I agree with your point that I don’t think Apple is doing anything illegal, just showing a lack of transparency and really bad form in trying to be cleaver.

        I do wonder if they are overstepping if they are indeed erasing non-iTunes files from my computer?

      • Erique Lamont

        Not forgetting that NOW Apple also limits the number of times you can burn a CD you own. I used to make compilations for different situations and journeys, now I can’t…I will stop using iTunes first chance I get.

      • Guy

        What? That’s nonsense. Also why would you keep reburning songs off a CD when you have either the AIFF or MP3 versions in your library from when you uploaded it the first time?

        Also, why are you burning music compilations over and over again to CDs? Just make a playlist and put it on either your phone of music player. If you insist on CDs (or don’t have an iPhone or other iDevice though if not why are you using iTunes?), each playlist you make in iTunes can be reburned to a CD up to 7 times. Why would seriously need MORE than 7 copies of any particular playlist?

      • zagatosz

        rob_d1, you must work for the music industry because the way you are defending what is another exploitation of the consumer. Your comments sound like talking points write by a public relations firm trying to spin an issue and the fact that you only had 6 comments since joining Disqus and all are in tread makes me wonder about your intent. The current copyright laws are written and practiced only produce benefit to the large music conglomerates that stiff the artists and the endusers. They are the ones that paid off politicians to pass laws that serve them and streaming services have given them the opportunity to control distribution. In this model you never own your content, you are either subjected to commercials or you endlessly rent music that you never own and are subject to the whims of the distributor.

      • rob_d1

        I completely agree with you. Copyright law needs to be written for the 21st century, not the printing press. And not having the same rights to a song after a purchase shouldnt matter whether its bought on CD on iTunes. At the end of the day, when it goes on the computer its (most of the time) all the same thing to the computer (MP3).

        To be sure, I am for the musicians and other artists that are “protected” by copyright law. But the only way we will win is if we all understand exactly what we are fighting against, as well as the laws our opponents are using to win the battles. In this day and age, the largest groups mentality is what is heard. My fight is in having an informed public, because an uniformed public has no credibility and any important debate. That issue is a common issue across the board with many things we face in this world.

        If you look at Londoner’s comments, it seems like it cannot even be reproduced. And William D seems to show that nothing is lost at all. So all that happens is people angry over something that doesn’t actually exist. All that is left is the tangential issue that I rose.

      • Kr00

        Simple fact. Buyer beware. Never assume you have rights to anything unless you know it as a fact. This has all come about because of the old Napster days, so blame all those who illegally shared and downloaded back then. The laws had to change, simple. You can’t argue for pirating. No need to attack the commenter, they’re only pointing out the reality of it all. People getting upset about any of this is just a waste of everybody’s time. You don’t have to buy into anything you don’t want to, but don’t complain when you do, then don’t agree with the attached rights. There are plenty of independent music production houses that don’t use large music conglomerates to sell artists works online. They too are protected by the same copyright laws. What, you want you music for free now?

      • Brandon Martin

        The issue comes down to the fact they are changing old files.

        For example I am a producer/dj for a living, and under this current setting any music I got strictly to use for my career would instantly become useless because the dm restricts the music to be opened in third party software….Like dj software. Just to show you how ridiculous it is it would also change the dm for any music I made MYSELF

      • Erique Lamont

        I’ve had this happen, I am leaving iTunes.

      • Erique Lamont

        Rob, you are a buffoon, I’ve uploaded songs I have written, produced, performed on, sang and OWN under any interpretation of the law, what right does Apple have to force DRM on me -the legal song and performance owner?

        I could almost excuse them for applying DRM to music that they identify through servers as belonging to some publishing company/musician et,,,but not music WE OWN.

        There is a case out there of someone who has had the early words of their children “Goo-gah–bah-” etc uploaded with their library, and Apple, in its infinite wisdom and dictatorial style have now applied DRM.

        You don’t think this an issue?

        You fanboys are drinking too much Apple Kool-Aid…you’ll defend anything as long a it has an eaten Apple on display…

        Apple are going to shit…and all empires fall…the people WILL rebel…

      • rob_d1

        You are the buffoon Mr. Lamont. Apple isn’t forcing anything onto you. You agreed to the terms on your own free will. Thats why its called an agreement.

        And how am I a fan boy when I statement that such an agreement, which is a similar agreement made with every other digital download platform, is utter garbage. I think the real problem is people like you who think because I post on an apple website that I’m immediately a fan.

        By the way, when you give something to someone else, you don’t OWN it. Quit sitting behind your desk trying to bully with words like these. Read the law. If you don’t like it, say that you don’t like it just like I have. My point was that this article gives people the wrong impression as to what the law is. Because people like you begin to believe when you give something to someone BY AGREEMENT that you can disregard the terms.

        Do you have a Facebook? You probably believe all those photos you took and posted are yours too don’t you….

      • tpoccu

        You do realize that this can only even possibly apply to something they matched on their servers right? Not something that got uploaded because it doesn’t have a match in iTunes. These tracks have DRM applied to them because you are paying for streaming, not iTunes Match. You have two options if you don’t want to deal with the DRM, turn icloud music library off and don’t use the feature, or pay for iTunes match in addition to Apple Music. Also, you should never do any kind of cloud syncing of your data (pictures, videos, music) before making a back up of some kind, this goes without even getting into the copyright discussion.

      • Kr00

        As with anything you buy in to, buyer beware. Understanding your limited rights is more important today than it ever has been, as all these products and services all have differing limited rights attached. What you use to believe about your rights, dont exist in the digital world.

      • Erique Lamont

        The trouble with Apple is a kind of mission creep. You took that first step years ago, when iTunes was friendly for its users, then each update -notice the udates with Yosemite are getting more and more frequent and Draconian- people click the usually Agreement, and eventually you get to the situation where they restrict access to music YOU OWN. I have songs I have performed uploaded that Apple now put DRM on…that is wrong.

      • Kr00

        The DRM thing has been debunked, so read here on what the situation is.

        Calm down and rock on; Apple isn’t adding DRM to your music

        Either way, Apple would rather have its music DRM free, but they have to deal with the music industry who are renowned for gouging the customer.

    • zeekfizz

      Wrong.  said with iTunes Match even if you cancel the service those higher rate copies of songs you ripped are yours for life. Now they’re not.

    • Robert0

      Perhaps you won’t mind if they change the locks on your front door, either, fanboy! My stuff is my stuff, and the great god Apple shouldn’t be messing with it at all. Storage is storage. Who are they to be imposing DRM on music not theirs? This is OK with you?

    • Not quite, because with iTunes Match, I can upload my music, delete it from my computer and download the DRM-free AAC matched files to my computer, then unsubscribe from iTunes Match and I can still play the files, load them on a CD, reproduce them on non-Apple devices, etc.

      With iCloud Music Library, if I do the same (upload, delete, download AAC) what I get is a DRM protected file, so if I unsubscribe from Apple Music, I won’t be able to do anything with the file, except occupy space in my drive.

      So, there’s a BIG-BIG difference.

  • Robert Lewis

    Uh oh. Well I guess I’ll be canceling the service. Glad I have a backup of my iTunes Library before turning this mistake on.

    • Mr. Winterpottom

      Your original files will remain untouched. Only if a song can be found in the Apple Music Libary and you download it on another device, the downloaded file will be DRMd.
      If a song cannot be found in the Apple Music Libary a copy of it will be uploaded to iCloud and if you download it, the downloaded file will be DRM-free.

      So as long as you don’t delete the original files, everything will be fine, also after you have cancelled the membership.

      (And yes, I tested it myself.)
      (With three different songs.)

  • Shameful discovery, I hope it’s a mistake on Apple’s part.

    • Erique Lamont

      Nah, it’s just the way Apple are going, it is an experiment to see how far they can go before pissing off all their customers.

      They have definitely gone to shit since Steve Jobs died.

      • Guy

        Apple does not change the original file by adding DRM to it on the original computer it was located on. IF you delete it from THAT computer and then redownload it from Apple through this new service it will have DRM. If you download it to another device other than the original computer, it will have DRM.

        Just admit you don’t understand how services like this work or that you’re trolling

      • It does indeed seem to be a mix of misunderstanding & a bug but as anything-Apple related it turns into a PR sh*tstorm very fast. :-P

  • William D

    It says here that if you cancel Apple Music subscription you lose access to all those Match songs that became DRMd. Are we actually CERTAIN this is what will happen? Has anybody actually asked Apple?

  • Devon Michael Dundee

    If I have a Match subscription but I try the Apple Music trial, do my files still get DRM added?

    • tpoccu

      No, what actually happens is all your songs get matched/uploaded to icloud and then if you try to download them on a different device than where they originally existed those files will have DRM. Your original music remains untouched unless you delete from your computer yourself.

  • William D

    Ive just read Kirk’s blog. It’s actually very simple and perfectly reasonable when you think about it

    1) There are two services – Match and then  Music which comes with the iCloud Music Library.

    2) If you pay for Match and then you turn on iCloud Music Library, your library effectively shows the latter. **for the duration of your Music subscription**

    If you cancelled Music the iTunes Match music library reappears in its place (the Music overlay goes away – you’e subscription has ended and the benefits of which have gone). And those tracks are DRM free.

    So , frankly i don’t know what the fuss is all about.

    • rob_d1

      Seriously?! Haha that’s hilarious! I don’t have either service, but I’m glad you let us know whats going on.

  • londoner

    I couldn’t reproduce this.. I’ve downloaded my iTunes Match tracks and emailed them to a different computer and they played there…
    But there’s an interesting take to Apple Music, basically you have to do it FOREVER or never at all… so if I build a collection and one month I decide not to renew, from what the article implies, I’ll lose everything and will have to start again ?

  • sdf

    Yet another reason to switch to android or only use amazon music. Every time I think about going back, they do Sh*T like this. i’m out.

    • Disney Mike

      No, it’s not a reason to switch. I can use my iMac, iPhone, iPad, and iTunes exactly the way I’ve always used it. I don’t have to subscribe to Apple Music. I rip almost everything I listen to, because I want lossless quality, so I’ve never cared about downloads from Apple anyway.

  • AnthonyHandley

    As far as I can tell, Apple hasn’t added any DRM to my ripped and Matched tracks after updating and subscribing to iCloud Music Library with Apple Music. Last week I ripped a CD to iTunes 128 mbps .mp3 files. The songs were matched and I deleted the mp3s and then downloaded the ‘matched’ 256 mbps .aac files. After upgrading to Apple Music and turning iCloud Music Library on this week, the songs are still DRM free. I have deleted them and re-downloaded the files a few times without any DRM.

  • bibulb

    And on top of that, there’s still the 25,000 song limit. GREAT.

  • Shawn

    Misleading article. The originals on your computer in the existing iTunes library are not overwritten and will still be there if you cancel your subscription. If you want a backup of your Music in its original non-DRM form, don’t rely on Apple music.

    • Mac

      Ding ding ding. If people don’t back up their music outside of Apple music, and then lose it all, lets call it an “idiot tax” that requires them to pay $9.99 in perpetuity to listen to their music that was so important to them, that they couldn’t properly back it up.

  • Hildebrand

    My originals are not there anymore. After several hardware updates, I’ve relied on the functionality of iTunes Match, which I payed for. If downloaded copies now have DRM, we probably have #drmgate. But I think this only applies to copies of songs downloaded during the time you have an Apple Music subscription.

  • Why are “iCloud Music Library” and “iTunes Match” separately-branded things and not just a feature integrated into Music?! When I first used the “+” icon in Music it told me to leave the app, go to Settings and turn on iCloud Music Library… how are normal people supposed to understand what this is actually doing?! Also FWIW when I did this, there was some server issue so it told me iCloud Music Library can’t be turned on and that I need to do something else in the Music app.

  • Ncg

    Guys. It does not overwrite your original files. If you download a copy from apple’s servers using this service it’s a DRM copy which I guess is lame. But your original files you have on the computer you uploaded them from stay in place. As in, I have one PC that’s the ripper station and holds a copy of my iTunes originals. They are still there after I have subscribed, untouched.

  • Glenn Watson

    Personalluy, I have no issues with apple music. I did cancel my itunes match and also deleted all my music from itunes match since I still have those CDs and apple music basically has everything I had with itunes match. DRM is ok by me, because I use nothing but ios devices and apple tv anyway. I never burn cds for anyone anymore. So, it makes no difference to me.

  • Tom

    Any chance somebody can help me understand this? I installed 8.4 on my iPad Air to check out. I did not enable Apple Music. Opening the settings in Music shows Apple Music off but the iCloud Music Library is ON. Panic ensues! Panic because everyone even Kirk McElhearn is saying entire libraries are getting screwed up with DRM and turning off could WIPE OUT all of ones hard work over the years. I have a huge library procured over years like most of you I’m sure and I’m not interested in streaming OR DRM! I’m a throw back to the old days of FM album music. Never-the-less as you know

    Anyway, I signed out of iTunes and back in iCloud Music Library is OFF and iTunes Match is back to working. Sort of: Note, iTunes Match is MISSING from the iTunes & App Store and the Music tabs. With iTunes Match you are supposed to see your entire collection and play want you want through your device.

    Apple’s take it or leave or use the old version without warning or explanation of what will happen to your, in this case music library, in a word, sucks. I guess I need to find an alternate to iTunes, oh wait there is none being a Mac user! Time to start ripping cd’s. How many cd’s do I need for about half of a 14K library?

  • Mike

    Well the solution to this is very simple, and it is one I have employed ever since Day One: never, ever buy any of your music from iTunes, and don’t upload your owned music to iCloud. (Amazon, anyone?) I have never purchased, and will never purchase, even a single tune from iTunes specifically because of the DRM issue. And no, I don’t have any intention of doing anything nefarious with the tracks I own other than enjoy them for my own use. But until Apple’s definition of ‘ownership’ as set out in its Terms, is one that is not acceptable to me. Until and unless Apple defines ownership the way I and the majority of the civilized world do (unlimited lifetime access and usability of what I have paid for, plus the right and ability to give it away or pass it on to my heirs), they will never get a penny’s worth of my music purchasing dollars.

  • Brandon Martin

    The issue comes down to the fact they are changing old files.

    For example I am a producer/dj for a living, and under this current setting any music I got strictly to use for my career would instantly become useless because the dm restricts the music to be opened in third party software….Like dj software. Just to show you how ridiculous it is it would also change the dm for any music I made MYSELF

  • Alex

    So if I rip a CD to my iTunes and use iCloud Music Library, the files I download would be loaded with DRM yes. But I’m not downloading anything… I ripped it from a CD, the files are still on my computer…

  • snapshot1

    This is the fundamental “as designed” difference between iCloud Music Library(part of Apple Music) and iTunes Match(paid service). It’s really not that hard to understand, well I guess for some it is.

    Example #1

    I have in itunes an imported track that Apple matches

    Apple Music (iCloud Music Library) “matches” this track to it’s streaming service. the imported copy is still on my computer. I delete that copy I can still stream the match song, or I can “offline” download it (DRM).

    If you didn’t have iCloud Music Library in this case and you delete your track. You’d have to reimport it anyways.

    If you have iTunes Match, you’re paying for a service where you get to download the itunes store version of the match track. You delete it, you get to re-download it again DRM free (so long as you keep paying for the service).

    Example #2

    I have a track Apple doesn’t recognize.

    In Apple Music (iCloud Music Library) there is no matching of this track. There is no uploading of the “unknown” track to Apple servers for storage.

    In iTunes Match, the unknown track is uploaded for you to download.

  • ammortiser

    While they are legal both Digital Restrictions Management and EULAs are a long way from being moral or justified in any way that takes consumer rights into account. Apple and other such companies manipulate and maneuver those consumers who use their services into giving up the rights and privileges they ought to be able to expect to have in a normal and moral system. wWe ought to be able to rely upon and expect governments to side with consumers to prevent this immoral overreach by corporations.

  • Yet another reason to stay with Google