Post Date: April 1, 2004

Though iTunes has offered a promising model for selling music online, the service could face obstacles as it considers expanding beyond U.S. markets, according to a new study from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The case study, iTunes: How Copyright, Contract, and Technology Shape the Business of Digital Media, explains how a combination of copyright, contract law and technology form the foundation of Apple’s online music store and how this foundation will be challenged as Apple–and other online music services–seeks to expand its market. The case study explains that, even though recent legal trends have caused harmonization of international copyright laws, a number of differences in detail are likely to pose challenges for online distribution services.

“Apple’s iTunes is the undisputed pace-setter in what are still the very early days of digital music services,” said John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center. “Our case study takes a hard look at what sets iTunes apart, how it’s competing with the free services, and what it means for consumers, artists, and others. It’s clear that the implications of iTunes are substantial for how we think about the interplay of the law, new technology, evolving markets, and social norms at this moment of transition from analog to digital.”

The iTunes Green Paper is an initial step in future research on this issue as the Berkman Center continues pursuing the broader research objectives of the Digital Media Project. The goal of the multi-year project is to help inform government officials, the media, artists, businesspeople and the public at large about the choices, values and decisions which will shape the future of digital media for the years ahead.

The Berkman Center is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Our research includes initiatives in digital media, blogging, Internet and policy, intellectual property, open source software, filtering and international development.