Ever since computer's hard drives became large enough to hold substantial amounts of information, people have been trying to store music on their computers. Which is fine until they start "sharing" it. Since the beginning of music sharing, record companies have been trying to halt this illegal activity. Online music distribution formats have digital rights management, or DRM. The problem with this is that people's freedom to legitimately use the music is now also restricted.
The problem with this DRM scheme is, until digital music sales overtake CD sales, there is always going to be the constant problem of people ripping CDs themselves, and then sharing it willy-nilly online. And although Sony has been creating copy-protected CDs, they aren't entirely effective either. For example, these very CDs that are copy-protected will rip fine on my Macs. And if Macs (and most likely Linux) can do it, I'm sure there's Windows software that will be able to get around or remove the restrictions that these copy-protected CDs place on its ripped music.
However, there's not much else that record companies can do differently. They claim that they're losing revenue by people pirating music, and they're probably correct. But the problem is that people who are planning to pirate music most likely won't buy it from the iTunes store or some other store that sells copy-protected music. They'll buy a CD from Wal-Mart.
Some music labels are simply accepting this fact and allowing users to do what they want with it by giving them straight MP3s, which offer no copy protection scheme.
What many people don't see is simply this: When you buy an object, such as a car, you actually buy the car. You're free to do whatever you want with it. There's no driving restrictions on it, heck, if you wanted to, you could even blow it up. The vendor isn't going to care one bit. When you buy a song, you aren't actually buying the song. This composition of notes (in most cases :icon_rolleyes:) actually took the composer a lot of time and money to create this. So why is the music only around $1 per track (or $20 for a CD)? It's because you're not actually buying the song, you're merely buying a license. This is why it's relatively inexpensive to "buy" your music, and why labels want to impose so many restrictions on it. If you actually bought the song (which would cost a LOT of money, by the way), then you could do exactly that: anything. You could use it in ads/commercials, you could remake it, dement it, whatever. And the composer wouldn't care.
But if you don't technically own the rights to something, you can't just do anything with it. And that is something that a lot of people have yet to realize. And if they didn't pirate, they wouldn't spoil it for the rest of us.