Important UPDATE to “Apple Stole My Music”

Andy, Michael and a few other people all forwarded this blog post on disappearing music that can be blamed on Apple.

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber.

“Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?”

“Yes,” she replied.

I had just explained to Amber that 122 GB of music files were missing from my laptop. I’d already visited the online forum, I said, and they were no help. Although several people had described problems similar to mine, they were all dismissed by condescending “gurus” who simply said that we had mislocated our files (I had the free drive space to prove that wasn’t the case) or that we must have accidentally deleted the files ourselves (we hadn’t).

Amber explained that I should blow off these dismissive “solutions” offered online because Apple employees don’t officially use the forums—evidently, that honor is reserved for lost, frustrated people like me, and (at least in this case) know-it-alls who would rather believe we were incompetent, or lying, than face the ugly truth that Apple has vastly overstepped its boundaries.

What Amber explained was exactly what I’d feared: through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users’ computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.

Whoa. Keep reading.

UPDATE: Needless to say, this was a PR nightmare for Apple on a myriad of levels. Wasn’t this the company that refused to help law enforcement crack an iPhone on the principle of user privacy? And now this same company was reaching into users’ hard drives and deleting songs?

The good news is that Apple took note of the issue and is moving to fix it. They say they weren’t able to replicate the problem, but that a new iTunes update due next week should make it all better.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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