Apple was awarded a patent for sharing music and videos that, in the most basic sense, allows a purchaser to share their digital file while enabling Apple the ability to monetize and possibly track the shared file.
Apple patents technology inventions often, but that does not guarantee it will show up in a product any time soon. This particular patent may lend itself to marrying an iTunes download with legitimately sharing it with someone else. But it also describes a two-tier pricing structure. The first tier for a download while the second tier for use without downloading (which may also be called streaming) – This may have applications for Beats Music or the integration of Beats with iTunes in the future.
The details are in the pages and pages of claims about what this technology will do. Browse Patent #8,934,624 here. It starts like this:
“Decoupling rights in a digital content unit from download”
Systems and methods for enabling a user to obtain rights in a legitimate copy of a digital content unit without downloading the copy from a digital content store are provided. 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. The encrypted copy is encrypted with a first encrypt key that may be associated with the first user and the legitimate copy is encrypted with a second encrypt key that may be associated with the second user.