Steve Jobs on DRM: It Must Die!

Illustration for article titled Steve Jobs on DRM: It Must Die!

Steve Jobs dropped a big one on us today, and no it wasn't a new MacBook. Instead it was his anti-DRM Manifesto, a state of the union for the music industry so to speak. In a nutshell, he advised the music industry to give up on DRM. It won't work. There are smart people circumventing this stuff, and with all the CDs being ripped in the world, just give up on it.


Amazing to hear the man speak without the PR mouthpiece, without regards to anything but what he feels is right for the world. He even throws the iPod/iTunes monopoly to the wind with these notions.

Backing up a bit, he explained that music companies may feel protected by their DRM, but DRM hasn't worked in the past and it won't work in the future. His solution: we got three choices. We can either continue on the path we're on now, license out FairPlay, or destroy DRM once and for all.

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.

So how do we do that? Well, Jobs proposes that we "redirect our energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free." In other words, that means raising hell at Universal, EMI, Sony BMG, and Warner. An excellent point, but it takes a giant to bring another giant down. In other words, someone has to deliver the first lightning bolt, Apple.

Thoughts on Music [Apple]



As it has been eluded to and not directly stated, Steve Jobs suplicated the RIAA gods and included a DRM system that was 1) legitimate (keys sent back to the store to verify) 2) closed (so others cannot cannibalize it and crack the decryption as quickly) 3) for ownership (you can keep copies with out subscription and unlock DRM by burning an audio CD of the files) and 4) standardized in price (so that artists cannot create a $26 CD)

To complain about Jobs doing this is ironic because the lawyers surely had control of the details and compromise in number of iPods, cd's burned/playlist, computers, and now shared LAN connections per day (which changed when the new contract was assumed). Or complain because your player does not have the opportunity to play the music, previously Samsung players could straight out of the box but the RIAA was not so fond of these USB MP3 players with easy to hack systems containing the key to the system. Additionally, Indi record labels on iTunes are required to include DRM becuase... the RIAA will have legal rights to leave their contract if anyone can sell without it (see Lawyers again). Maybe identifying this as an Apple thing is even less acceptable when you look at people paying monthly for unlimited music which in most cases cannot be burned to CD and is lost when you stop subscribing. I feel like that is worse and should be addressed as well.

My one low blow to the whole of the conversation is on the ZUNE, it's tragic DRM and the fact that Microsoft sold out worse than Apple and even killed FairPlay which was tolerable. Apple Closed? Zune Closed?

Be smart and look at the way the world works in this type of situation rather than how you want to take sides for one guy or another. DRM is shit, companies are forming to take it down (DoubleTwist), and Apple is trying to place an additional pressure on what is fair. Artists provide a service which people find overvalued. Perhaps this is just one more step to show that.……