You've been doing it for years, but Apple was only today awarded the patent that they filed back in 2004. The patent is for "
Methods and systems for network-based purchase and distribution of media are disclosed. The purchase and distribution of media by these methods and systems are not only secure but also controlled. The security restricts access to media within media files during downloads as well as while stored at a server and/or client. For example, a potential purchaser can search and browse through numerous media items on-line that are available for purchase. The potential purchaser can thereafter purchase one or more media items on-line with great ease. Upon purchasing a media item, the content for the media item can be downloaded over the network to the purchaser. The content for the media item is then encrypted for the purchaser's use and stored on the purchaser's machine. Thereafter, the purchaser can make use of the media item (e.g., play the media item). Improved graphical user interfaces suitable for reviewing, browsing, previewing and/or purchasing numerous media items are also disclosed.
We don't claim to be experts on patent law, so we don't know what this means for Apple's digital distribution as opposed to any other form of distributing media over the internet. The description sounds a lot like all the other services we use, but this is again likely just a case of a company protecting their properties. Better a company that actually puts it to use than a company that just likes to squat on patents until someone cashes in on an idea.