Shortly after the big Apple keynote, the folks at iTunes pressed a few buttons and boom! U2’s new album is copied to everyone’s iTunes cloud.

A free album! Brilliant marketing!

Or a massive invasion of privacy?

That’s the debate raging now online. Legally, nothing is amiss. Having an iTunes account, this move is assuredly covered in the TOC. And Apple technically didn’t force the download – just made it available.

Yet this flagrantly ignores the sense of personal and private connection we feel with our devices (even if that is just an illusion). It is a stark reminder of how we’re not fully in control, and that is NOT something the masses enjoy being reminded about. Is the outrage enough to dent Apple sales? Is it enough to prevent the upside risk of the move (i.e. EVERYONE now knows about this album, and many will love it and appreciate the free songs)?

AUX.TV seems to be in favor of the move. Not Apple’s fault that you failed to understand how the cloud works, they say. Slate’s writer jokingly warns of the potential fallout if this marketing move is left unchecked. Members of the Internet Hate Machine are… well pretty damn vocal about it as you can well imagine.

This is actually a fairly important discussion. Technology is only going to get more “invisible,” and the legality surrounding it more esoteric, grey, confusing. What side of the fence are you on?



    Its essentially the same as Jay-Z's Samsung deal, and a similar business play to Prince's newspaper album. The Samsung one is the closer analog since it forced the album to be available to people much like the U2 album is.

    On one hand its nice having freebies handed out, but on the other it does insert Apple into your library in a more direct way than we've seen in the past. When PSN was hacked I appreciated having a choice in a handful of free game downloads to choose from, but they weren't so much "Here ya go!" and more "Pick something if you want it" which seems like a better way to handle something like this. If rather than just being linked to your account, Apple had some kind of "Free Promotions" section of the store for people to check out it would address the privacy concerns while still opening a channel for promotional content that's trying to capitalize on the size of the iTunes network. I don't care one way or the other since I won't be downloading the album either way and tend to not look at my iTunes library much (Rdio FTW), but I can see how some people who have a more personal connection with their iTunes library could be upset, especially if they don't like U2.

    I think it shows an industry in its death throes to be honest. If a band like U2 or an icon like Jay-Z has to resort to this to push album sales, where does that leave the indie who doesn't have corporate connections like that? Is it because they had a dollar value in mind for the album and wanted to make sure they hit it, or has the big money bubble burst for artists signed to big labels? I've heard it said that the decline in music sales is actually more of a decentralization of music sales, with the bell curve being flattened and more money finding its way out to the working artists and less being pooled by the big label acts. If that assessment holds true, deals like these feel like we're seeing the industry stutter to try to adapt and cling to the big money of yesteryear while they still have the ability to.

    I dont think that this should be an issue at all, its not like apple got hold of some sensitive information. They were merely working within their bounds of TOC. I dont see why this should be a problem for anyone.

    Update: Apple's created a dedicated link that removes the album from your library. (MY link is to an article, not the killswitch link.)

    It is good to know that they're listening. And all things considered, a decent turnaround time.

    Thx for sharing a note about this @jordy ....funny enough I was sitting here with itunes open as it always is....but I didn't even notice this in my library until just now while I was sorting loads of new stuff for my upcoming gigs....well baM! there it is in the recently added folder. Hmmmm, not quite sure what to think of this....although I tend to agree with @nathanafi in that I'm not keen on anything being 'forced' on me -- period. That includes any new music to my library that I haven't authorized...especially if it's music that I'm not really a fan of (not saying that I'm not or wasn't a U2 listener at one point in my music 'career' as I was...but honestly, I haven't listened to them - as I haven't many bands - in years....and if I wanted to again, i would choose to buy or download of my own accord). So that said, i'll probably take a quick listen just because it's there (and of course, that's what they're hoping for) and I'd like to see how they've evolved since I last heard them...but other than that, the album will not likely remain in my collection as I have little to no room for anything that isn't part of my real passion and weekly 6 hour marathon sessions at Parlour :)

    Not really down at all with music being forced into my library...especially U2 lol... I have a ton of music and just happen to have gotten to the point where I find it exhausting to go from A to Z. I already skip over so much, I wouldn't want more crap just chilling in my library that I'd never listen to... Also, for people who have it set up to do it auto, it would automatically load onto your ipod, which would prove annoying for people with smaller storage amounts like myself...Used to have a 160gb but now I just rock an 8...