With great power comes great responsibility, and apparently with DRM-free music comes files embedded with identifying information. Such is the situation with Apple's new DRM-free music: songs sold without DRM still have a user's full name and account e-mail embedded in them, which means that dropping that new DRM-free song on your favorite P2P network could come back to bite you.The ars technica article goes on to recommend a trivial way to keep the music and ditch the identifiers, and points out that the presence of such an identifier on somebody else's disk doesn't necessarily prove copyright infringement. But maybe that's not what Apple is really after. Maybe it's so people will know that Apple could know, and other people could know, where you got your music. Like French chefs know where other chefs got certain recipes. Norms-based iTunes?
We started examining the files this morning and noticed our names and e-mail addresses in the files, and we've found corroboration of the find at TUAW, as well. But there's more to the story: Apple embeds your account information in all songs sold on the store, not just DRM-free songs. Previously it wasn't much of a big deal, since no one could imagine users sharing encrypted, DRMed content. But now that DRM-free music from Apple is on the loose, the hidden data is more significant since it could theoretically be used to trace shared tunes back to the original owner. It must also be kept in mind that this kind of information could be spoofed.
— Apple hides account info in DRM-free music, too, By Ken Fisher, ars technica, May 30, 2007 - 01:39PM CT