This is bizarrely and completely incorrect:
My Songs, My Format - New York Times:
And downloads from Apple's iTunes Music Store come exclusively in a version of AAC that includes FairPlay, Apple's digital rights management technology, to prevent illegal copying and sharing of music. "One of the problems I see a lot is that people who are using iTunes-iPods have ripped their entire CD collection to the AAC format because that is the default setting in iTunes," said Grahm Skee, who runs the Web site AnythingButiPod.com, in an e-mail interview. "Now they are stuck with a format that can only be played on iPods."
I don't quite know how this happened in the NYT technology section, but it's important to know this little equation:
AAC tracks you rip yourself are not the same as Protected AAC tracks that include FairPlay.
AAC, Apple's default format for converting music, is simply an open source format that anyone can make a player for—and many do! In fact, as of now I haven't actually seen a new portable audio player that doesn't support AAC in the last year or so unless it was absolutely terrible. It's free to support the format, and thanks to the popularity of iTunes people are supporting it—which is good, as no one contests that AAC sounds a lot better than MP3s at the same bit rates.
Protected AAC is the format that tracks from the Apple Music Store are in. It's just an AAC file with DRM copy protection wrapped around it...and it's the DRM that prevents it from being played on non-iPod players, which is definitely annoying. But there's no situation where you would have ripped your own CDs and somehow made the resulting files unreadable unless you have a very old mp3 player...and the fact that on its 1999 era shell it probably says MP3 PLAYER should probably have been a clue that it only likes those files. After all, it won't play .jpegs, either.