Apple’s Steve Jobs Blasts DRM

Today, Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer and iTunes and co-creator of all the cool stuff that represents has said that DRM sucks. Yes, he did. Posted it right there on Apple’s website for all to read, including some very unhappy people at record companies. DRM is digital rights management which translates to copy-protected songs. It didn’t work for software — remember the discs you couldn’t make archival copies of and never worked right because the protection interfered with the music — and it won’t ultimately work for music. The record companies and RIAA are just too damned stupid to figure it out. The RIAA is just slightly brighter than George Bush, which doesn’t say a whole hell of a lot.

Jobs says he only had DRM with iTunes because it was the only way to get labels to sign when it came out, “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 said he’d get rid of it right now if he could. “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.”

Naturally Microsoft has already come out with a reply to Mr. Jobs and said they like DRM and think it’s a good idea. The Zune which rolled with a big emphasis on sharing is now quietly doing away with it.

Cnet news is reporting all about it, and I think there will be fallout from this. I just don’t know what it will be. But I am utterly fascinated he’d come out and make such a statement. I’m not a fan of Mr. Jobs, nor am I a detractor. His ego just freaks me out a bit — it’s bigger than anyone’s. But on this, he has my wholehearted support.

Leave a Reply