Apple has reportedly struck a deal with recording companies that will end the inclusion of digital rights management software on songs downloaded on iTunes while allowing the companies to variably price their music on the service.
The news reminded me of a fascinating debate we had in the op-ed section recently on the broader issue of online file-sharing. Downloading a song (or a movie or a book) and E-mailing copies of it to friends is of course illegal, but the argument was over the extent to which it should be prosecuted. The law professor Lawrence Lessig argued in essence that it should be decriminalized because it is creating a generation of criminals, while Patrick Ross of the Copyright Alliance takes the position that theft is theft and should be prosecuted as such.
So far as I can tell the new rules don't make it any less illegal to E-mail copies of these songs to your buds, but it does make it easier—making the debate about how to deal with such file-sharing more salient than ever.