Apple Music has been accused of deleting music from users' computers in order to force them to use its streaming service. One disgruntled customer claims that Apple Music stripped his hard drive of 20 years and 122GB worth of music without permission and replaced his tracks with mismatched alternatives, which he was only able to access through the cloud.
For composer James Pinkstone, the problem started when he signed up to Apple Music and began transferring his files over from iTunes. Pinkstone claims that after scanning his music collection, the service began matching his tracks with those on its database and transferring them over. In the process, Apple began removing the original copies from his computer, including his own compositions. At the same time, rare versions of tracks that Pinkstone had collected over time were substituted for inferior, more widely available alternatives.
"If Apple Music saw a file it didn't recognise—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," Pinkstone said. "What Apple considers a 'match' often isn't."
The composer was advised by Apple representatives that this is the norm, partly done in order to help users save storage space. "I never could have dreamed that the content holders, like Apple, would also reach into your computer and take away what you already owned," he said. "If Taxi Driver is on Netflix, Netflix doesn't come to your house and steal your Taxi Driver DVD. But that's where we're headed. When it comes to music, Apple is already there."
Fortunately, Pinkstone was able to recover his music collection through a system restore – and if you ever needed a lesson in the importance of backing up your files, this is it. However, the musician was told that the only way he could prevent the same thing happening again was to stop using the service altogether – meaning millions of users are potentially at risk of finding themselves in the same situation.
"For about ten years, I've been warning people, hang onto your media," he said. "One day, you won't buy a movie. You'll buy the right to watch a movie, and that movie will be served to you. If the companies serving the movie don't want you to see it, or they want to change something, they will have the power to do so.
"I would love for Apple to face a public backlash and financial ramifications for having taken advantage of its customers in such a brazen and unethical way, but Apple seems beyond reproach at this point."
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