New Apple DRM Patent Points To Music Sharing, Two Tier Pricing In Beats, iTunes Relaunch

CUPERTINO, CA (Hypebot) – Apple has obtained a patent that could enable music and video sharing and along with other features by adding a new layer of digital rights management (DRM). "The systems and methods provide an encrypted copy of a digital content unit to a first user and transcript the encrypted copy to generate the legitimate copy to a second user," reads the patent that Apple says could reduce both piracy and bandwidth costs.

According to Apple's new patent, the encrypted copy contains two keys that unlock a single track: one is associated with the first user (presumably the purchaser) and a second key that can be associated with a second user. “This may encourage users to trade or copy digital content units as well as authorize these copies. Such sharing may, in turn, reduce piracy or illegal copying,” according to Apple's filing.

Two Tier Pricing: Download vs. In The Cloud

Along with sharing, this two key system could also enable two tier pricing system. “This reduction in operating expenses may facilitate a two-tier pricing structure," according to the patent. "For example, the digital content store may charge a first price to users who download a digital content unit from the store and a second price to users who authorize a digital content unit without downloading the unit.”

The second price tier "without downloading" could refer to music streams from Beats and/or ownership restricted to cloud use only. Either way, the new patent provides Apple with an additional option to present to record labels as it negotiates with them to rejuvenate slumping iTunes music sales and to launch a new version of Beats Music integrated within the Apple ecosystem.

The Return Of DRM

The patent also states that files encrypted with the new DRM can only be played on “trusted client software.” Similar restrictions have drawn fire in the past, and potential backlash could throw cold water Apple's latest DRM plans.

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