Thank you John,
That is a very clear and concise explanation of lossy versus lossless codecs. While the loss of musical information by the creation of a lossy file is quite disturbing there is additional danger when it comes to lossy files. By this I'm referring to this scenario: someone (legally) downloads an album from iTunes (which would be in Apple's lossy codec), burns those files to an audio CD, lends the audio CD to a friend who then rips the files onto their computer but as mp3 files. So now, without the music ever leaving the digital domain (where the sound is perfect ) one has created a file which has gone through the following conversion steps:
1) Original wav file into apple lossy file (loss of data)
2) apple lossy file back into wav file (to make the audio CD) but not the same wav file as the original file. (I don't know if there is data loss in this step)
3) new wav file into mp3 file (more and different data loss)
Sure it's digital but it's not the same digital as when it started.
Of course with a lossless codec there would be no data loss regardless of how many steps are involved. Just some food for thought.