Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Breaking News: Jobs calls for end to DRM

Steve Jobs has posted on the Apple website his 'Thoughts on Music', and DRM. He has offered three alternatives for the future of DRM, with this being the most interesting:
The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

Amen. DRM is, and always has been a control issue for the big labels. They want to control how music is distributed, yet fail to realize that they are stunting the growth of the industry as a whole by doing so. Anything that makes music easier to distribute, leads to more sales. Jobs understands this, and with iTunes, he may have the clout to force the music industry to finally get their heads out of their asses.

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