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iTunes Match streaming music service arrives in Canada

An employee at an Apple store checks the iTunes store on a computer as he works in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday Dec. 13, 2011. Apple says it launched iTunes on Tuesday in Brazil and 15 other Latin American countries.

Andre Penner/Andre Penner/AP

Many thousands (millions?) of Canadians have stolen music on their computer hard drives, sitting and thrumming like Edgar Allan Poe's tell-tale heart, evidence of the bad-old days of digital music piracy when it seemed everyone was doing it.

With the Thursday launch of iTunes Match in Canada there is a way to "wash" those tracks clean, and while you're at it upload your entire music library to iCloud and stream it to all of i-devices or Apple-connected entertainment gear.

Match costs $27.99 a year, and is the iTunes response to streaming music services like Spotify, Rdio and others. The service lets you upload your iTunes library to iCloud, and will then attempt to match any tracks not purchased via iTunes (be they stolen, or ripped from legally purchased CDs, etc.) with potentially higher quality DRM-free 256 kbps AAC-encoded versions of the same songs. You can then stream the legitimate iTunes versions back to yourself wherever you go, though critically it does not replace the "dirty" tracks on your local drive unless you instruct iTunes to do so.

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There is a limit to Apple's largesse: It will only match 25,000 ripped or bootlegged songs, tracks you bought from Apple do not count against that cap.

Ultimately, this isn't a huge cash clawback for all those illegally obtained top 40 hits. Collecting $28 a year isn't going to dent what the RIAA refers to as a $12.5-billion digital piracy market. But as Popular Mechanic's Mark Wilson wrote, it is "a symbol of the major music-mentality shift. No one will be buying hundreds of albums anymore, but we'll definitely rent them [via streaming services]on an ongoing basis."

Match has been available in the U.S. for about a month, according to a release it is now rolling out to Canada, France, Ireland, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

Another announcement in the release will impact Canadians with Apple TV: The set-top box that accesses iTunes will now support the purchase of re-downloads and TV episode purchasing via Apple TV's interface, rather than just from your computer or tablet/handset.

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About the Author
Technology reporter

Shane Dingman is The Globe and Mail's technology reporter. He covers BlackBerry, Shopify and rising Canadian tech companies in Waterloo, Ont., Toronto and beyond. More

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