I'm going to go out on a limb and say that music distribution services are essentially in the same position as Red Hat. They can't really sell any digital good that's their unique content. All they can really do is support its use and integration with hardware they also sell.

I've said before that the reason I go to iTunes' or Amazon's mp3 stores is because it's essentially worth a buck not to have to search for a particular tune. In my case, "search" means look for, order, and wait for a used CD to come in. In other cases, it's probably the time to fire up Limewire or whatever the kids are using now, and find a copy of a song with a bit rate high enough to be worth listening to -- or maybe to go next door and rip their suitemate's CD.

There's no real way to protect the music anymore, the same way Red Hat, etc, can't protect the changes they make to Linux. All you can do is provide superior service and hardware integration.

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