Today’s Top Tech: Apple Says DRM Bites


apple logoBy Evan Ackerman

So, I have a bunch of digital music. Never you mind where most of it came from, but I’ll tell you were it definitely did NOT come from: an online music store. I don’t like the idea of software/music companies restricting where I’m allowed to play music that I’ve paid for, especially since I can always just go out and (legally) buy and rip a CD. Not that I would go out and buy a CD, but still. Turns out that Steve Jobs (you know, the guy behind the iPod and iTunes) agrees with me, and according to his statistics, most of you do too.

In a letter posted today on the Apple website, Jobs talks about why DRM is such a pain in the ass for everybody, including Apple. And since only about 3% of the music on a given iPod is protected by DRM (or in other words, is from the iTunes store), DRM is not really protecting the commercial interests of Apple or the major music companies. The fact is, as Jobs states, “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.”

So what’s the solution? Here’s Jobs’ take:

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.

Wow. Almost makes me want to go out and buy a Mac. Almost.

[ Your cynical editor would like to point out that it just seems so easy for Steve to wash his hands of it all, placing the blame squarely on the Big 4. As if Apple’s wishes can so easily be twisted around. Anyone remember when the Big 4 wanted to increase the price of songs on iTunes? Didn’t happen. Cisco wanted to twist Apple’s arm on the iPhone name… Didn’t happen. -Ed. ]

[Thoughts on Music] VIA [Apple]