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The Ubuntu One music store and free software for profit

Mar 11, 2010, 19:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"One of the features expected with the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 release is the Ubuntu One Music Store (UOMS). The UOMS is a mechanism by which Ubuntu users can purchase songs in the MP3 format, with some of the revenue going to support Canonical. These songs are evidently compressed at a relatively high bit rate and lack any sort of DRM or watermarks. Support for the UOMS has been integrated into the Rhythmbox music player, with support for other players expected in the future. Discussion of this new feature has been relatively subdued thus far, but developers elsewhere are beginning to take notice and ask some questions about the extent to which the UOMS should be supported.

"Recently, Amarok hacker Jeff Mitchell went to the openSUSE community to ask them how they felt about the UOMS. In particular, he would like to know how openSUSE might react if Canonical were to push its Rhythmbox changes back upstream - which has not yet happened, as of this writing. Would openSUSE be willing to ship a Rhythmbox plugin which existed for the purpose of funding another distributor? How, asked Jeff, do we feel about free software which is designed to make money for others?

"To an extent, this question has been answered for years: both Rhythmbox and Amarok include support for Magnatune's music store, and distributors have shipped that support. This plugin generates income - a significant amount, evidently - for Magnatune, which kicks a portion back to Rhythmbox and Amarok. So simply operating a for-profit music store is not, itself, reason for concern or for exclusion from free music player applications. The Ubuntu music store appears to be looked at differently, though, for a couple of reasons, one of which may hold more water than the other."

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