Reaction to Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Music

February 8, 2007

Screenshot of Steve Jobs statement

Reaction has been mixed: The Economist thinks Jobs is dead right, but PC Mag quotes an unimpressed Norwegian Consumer Rights Group spokesperson as follows:

“ITunes Music Store and others are unfair to consumers no matter how many download services follow the proprietary approach,” wrote Torgeir Waterhouse, a senior advisor at The Norwegian Consumer Council, in response to a letter written by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and posted on the Apple Web site on Tuesday.

More: NYT: Europe Cool to Apple’s Suggestions on Music, Digg listing on ‘Steve Jobs DRM’


‘Thoughts on music’ – Steve Jobs writes about DRM

February 7, 2007

Screenshot of Steve Jobs statement

In an unprecedented move, Steve Jobs has published a statement entitled Thoughts On Music in which he details his views on DRM. Unsurprisingly, he states that iPods can freely play music ripped from CDs and other media before laying responsibility for the increasingly unpopular rights management applied to music sold via the iTunes Music Store fairly and squarely at the feet of the big record companies:

Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI. These four companies control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music. When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied. The solution was to create a DRM system, which envelopes each song purchased from the iTunes store in special and secret software so that it cannot be played on unauthorized devices.

He then goes on to suggest three future scenarios: continuing on the current course with incompatible players and systems (not at all desirable for users), licensing Apple’s Fairplay DRM to third parties (deemed highly problematic because difficult to control) and thirdly to abolish DRM (is that cheering I hear in the distance?) with the following argument:

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

Given the growing number of European countries threatening to pursue Apple in the courts, Jobs’ statement is timely. Needless to say, the web is awash with the news, it’s excellent PR and it puts Jobs firmly on the side of the consumer.

Link: Jobs’ statement on the Apple site
Further comment: Macworld , Playlist, TechCrunch

DRM as Tower of Babel

January 29, 2007

Tower of Babel

Cory Doctorow writes:

Eboy has posted a new graphic entitled “Tower of Incompatibabel” that very neatly makes the connection between DRM and proprietary formats and the dystopia that followed the fall of the Tower of Babel.

Link: eBoy page
Via: BoingBoing

DRM roundup

January 23, 2007

No to drm image

Record Labels Contemplate Unrestricted Digital Music

As even digital music revenue growth falters because of rampant file-sharing by consumers, the major record labels are moving closer to releasing music on the Internet with no copying restrictions — a step they once vowed never to take.

Link: NYT article

EMI Considering Dropping DRM From Its CDs

EMI Group Plc said on Monday it was reviewing its use of the controversial content protection technology used on CDs, known as digital rights management (DRM), but has not scrapped it altogether.

Link: Reuters article
Via: Gizmodo news item

Apple opening up its Fairplay DRM?

January 18, 2007

To approved accessory makers.

Link: iLounge article

Virgin France plans to sell DRM-free MP3s

January 17, 2007

Virgin logo

200,000 songs initially + no DRM + encoded at 256kbps = a good idea.

Link: Engadget article

EMI ceases CD-based DRM

January 11, 2007

EMI has announced that it will no longer infect its CDs with DRM. I remember just a few years ago when an EMI customer-service rep sent an email to an irate customer promising that every CD in Europe would have DRM within a decade.

The anti CD-based DRM campaign was closely reported by BoingBoing. The small number of CDs I’ve bought that warn of anti-piracy measures have not protested in any way when I’ve ripped their contents to MP3, nor have any refused to play in any of my four CD players. Which is not to say I don’t scorn the whole concept…

Link via: BoingBoing