macOS Sierra’s “Optimize Storage” and iTunes Distribution Contracts

Apple today released macOS Sierra, the latest version of their desktop operating system for Macs.

Included in macOS Sierra is a feature called “Optimize Storage” which can help free disk space by, among other options, removing old, watched TV shows and movies from your iTunes library. It appears this feature is built into iTunes 12.5 (Preferences -> Advanced -> Automatically delete watched movies and TV shows.” From the macOS Sierra marketing materials:

When you need more space, Optimized Storage makes room by storing infrequently used files, email attachments, photos, and previously viewed iTunes movies and TV shows in the cloud

Activating the feature through the “Manage Storage” option in “About This Mac” adds (emphasis mine):

iTunes movies and TV shows that you’ve already watched will be automatically removed from this Mac. You can download them again at any time. You can change this later in iTunes preferences.

Except this does not appear to be the case: Apple occasionally loses the ability to distribute certain content, rendering a stop to any re-downloading of that content. From the Apple Media Terms and Conditions:

You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content (“Redownload”) to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID (“Associated Devices”). You can see Content types available for Redownload in your Home Country at Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services.

If you haven’t backed up a purchase and it is no longer offered by Apple, it’s gone, and presumably with no refund given that this scenario could occur years after you’ve made your original purchase.

macOS Sierra’s Optimize Storage feature complicates this problem by automatically removing content you may not have backed up. In fact, even if you use Apple’s own Time Machine, a file removed by Optimize Storage will eventually be removed from your Time Machine backup too once space runs out on your backup disk.

If you do everything Apple recommends (with the exception of what is in the Terms and Conditions, which we all read), you may end up losing some purchases.

(Hint: You can see what media may have already become unavailable for re-download by making a Smart Playlist in iTunes which includes the rules “iCloud Status is No Longer Available” and “Location is not on this computer.”)

Perhaps in the future Apple could move your purchased files to your iCloud Drive; this may not necessarily be considered a “re-download” as it’s merely a backup of one’s own files.

Hope this one gets sorted out soon.

Code Is (Not) Literature

Peter Seibel writes:

It was sometime after that presentation that I finally realized the obvious: code is not literature. We don’t read code, we decode it. We examine it. A piece of code is not literature; it is a specimen.

His essay seems to stand counter to Jeremy Ashkenas’ presentation I posted three years ago.

I disagree. Seibel misses the symmetry of reading and writing.

The act of writing English often flows and causes a reading to flow. The act of programming rarely flows and is highly analytical, so it follows that a reading will similarly lack flow and require analysis.

Code is simply an unconventional type of literature.

Furniture Music

I produced a vinyl collage radio show at KDVS over the summer of 2012. Collected below are those shows:

Pandora, Spotify, and the Internet “radio” rates

Damon Krukowski (of Galaxie 500 fame) tweeted information about his royalty rates from Pandora back in October and has followed up today with an article on Pitchfork going into detail:

… by my calculation it would take songwriting royalties for roughly 312,000 plays on Pandora to earn us the profit of one– one– LP sale. (On Spotify, one LP is equivalent to 47,680 plays.)

Curiously, he neglects to mention his terrestrial FM royalty rates in what is essentially a lament on Internet radio.

What Krukowski misses is the real danger of these services being on-demand and therefore supplanting most purchasing desire. Traditional radio also has very low royalty rates, but given its scheduled nature (off-demand) serves artists big and small as an advertising platform without cannibalizing sales.

What’s most worrisome about Krukowski’s logic are the positions drawn about the upcoming royalty rate debates in Congress:

Pandora in fact considers this additional musicians’ royalty an extraordinary financial burden, and they are aggressively lobbying for a new law– it’s now a bill before the U.S. Congress– designed to relieve them of it.

Sadly, Krukowski’s financial self-interest has him on the wrong side of this debate; if you’ve ever wondered why we’re bereft of amazing Internet radio stations — why we don’t find the same satisfying application of niche and micro-focus in Internet radio as we do on many websites — look no further than the current royalty rates.

Spotify and Pandora are not traditional radio and should not be rated as such. They’re new age rental services which should reward musicians and labels by charging rental rates. It’s not clear whether that’s a viable business model, but at least it’s honest.