Apple has filed a patent application for the system the company developed to manage the process of submitting music to the iTunes Music Store. First reported by Waxy.org, the patent application covers the system used by Apple for iTunes Producer, software distributed to labels and authorized musicians.
With iTunes Producer, those labels and musicians can submit music to the iTMS in what the patent application calls an "automated manner at the media distribution site."
The patent is titled "Method and system for submitting media for network-based purchase and distribution," and is designated as patent application #20040254883.
The patent covers the "methods and systems for submitting media to a media distribution site. [...] The submission of media to the media distribution site is able to be performed by numerous submitters in a uniform and computer-assisted manner."
The full process is described as: "A method for submission of a media collection to a media distribution site, said method comprising: obtaining metadata for the media collection; identifying media content for a plurality of media items to be included in the media collection, the media content being imported from a media source; converting the identified media content for the plurality of media items into compressed media files; obtaining metadata for the identified media content; forming an electronic package of the media collection, the electronic package including at least the compressed media files and the metadata associated with the media collection and the identified media content; and electronically transmitting the electronic package to the media distribution site."
Apple has filed a series of patent applications in the last few years covering such issues as GUI (graphical user interface) elements for Mac OS X, the iPod, and iTunes, as well possible computer form factors and other physical aspects.
This strategy is a marked contrast to the copyright strategy that Apple tried to use in the 1980s to cover the look and feel of the original Mac OS. Apple lost control of that look and feel, in part because of contracts it signed with Microsoft, but the company has clearly turned its sites on patents as the best way to protect its investment in design.
Waxy.org has some additional comment on the patent application.