There was a time when you bought an album or a CD and it lived with you until it was lost, scratched or sold in a garage sale. But today, the songs you save in your growing music collection exist somewhere other than your car or closet; they live on the hard drive of your computer or your smartphone or in the cloud.
This is the case with Apple music. Many iTunes users were stunned last week to find out that large parts of their personal music collections were scooped up by Apple’s iCloud service and deleted from personal devices.
When you purchase a song in iTunes you don’t really “own” it in the sense that you can physically keep it forever. In reality, you are only purchasing a license that allows you to listen to the song as long as you are a subscriber.
iTunes periodically examines physical libraries and evaluates all your songs- including MP3s or WAV files that you may have added to your collection yourself. If Apple finds what it considers a match or a duplicate, it removes the file and backs it up in your iCloud account.
Users can download the files back to their personal drives but this is a tedious process, which can take a long time.
The big problem comes when you are no longer a subscriber and you lose access to all your music.
Outraged iTunes subscribers took to blogs and social media to blast the song stealing invasion of their musical possessions. Apple points to their user agreement, accepted by every subscriber, permitting the practice.