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Apple shouldn't charge for DRM-free upgrades

How many of you did the same as me and visited the iTunes store to find out how to upgrade your music to DRM-free? And how many of you felt like you'd been taken for a mug?

How many of you did the same as me and visited the iTunes store yesterday to find out how to upgrade your music library to a DRM-free version? And how many of you felt like you'd been taken for a mug?

I certainly did -- Apple's charging me for music I've already paid for. Any copy-protected music previously bought from the iTunes store that is now available in the iTunes Plus format without DRM can be downloaded again, but at a cost. Apple is charging £2 for each complete album or 20p per song. It might not sound like much, but even an incredibly infrequent iTunes user like me managed to rack up a £12 bill -- because you have to upgrade everything, or not at all.

Paying to upgrade tracks made some kind of sense to me under the old system in the UK. EMI tracks used to be available without DRM for 99p, as opposed to the normal copy-protected price of 79p. I didn't mind paying extra to upgrade to a DRM-free version of the song, because anyone that bought the album from iTunes for the first time had to pay extra too.

But all the copy-protected albums I bought for £7.99 a few months ago are still £7.99 today, so I feel like I'm being punished for giving Apple my money in the first place.

You could argue, as our digital audio expert Nate Lanxon did this morning, that Apple is providing you with a new product. iTunes Plus songs aren't just DRM-free, they are also double the bit rate of normal iTunes songs.

I can see his point, but in that case, why doesn't Apple give you the option of choosing which songs you upgrade to iTunes Plus? You either have to upgrade your whole library, or not bother.

Do I want a higher bit rate version of Do They Know It's Christmas? (2004) I bought in a weak moment? No I don't, but I've got one now, simply because I wanted DRM-free versions of a couple of decent albums I'd bought in the past.


Update: Apple has now changed its mind, allowing you to pick the songs from your library to update to a DRM-free version. But this is little consolation to those that have already spent their money in the belief they had no choice but to re-download everything.