Geeks With Blogs

Scott Kuhl Warning: I may have no idea what I am talking about!

I know, I know, too many Apple posts the last couple of days.

If you haven't seen this yet, it's a letter posted on Apple's site from Steve Jobs talking about music.  He doesn't do this very often so it's getting a lot of attention.  It's primarily in response to the building anti-trust issues with Apple's dominance in the digital music market, which is misguided since the real problem are the music companies.

To break it down:

  • Apple won't license it's DRM because it will be cracked and the crack can't be fixed quickly if they need to distribute it through multiple sources.
  • Apple only uses DRM because the music companies are forcing them to and they would love to just eliminate it, problem solved.

Here are the bits I found most interesting:


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.

However, a key provision of our agreements with the music companies is that if our DRM system is compromised and their music becomes playable on unauthorized devices, we have only a small number of weeks to fix the problem or they can withdraw their entire music catalog from our iTunes store.

On DRM sales

only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM.

On DRM licensing

licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, and history tells us that inevitably these secrets will leak.

An equally serious problem is how to quickly repair the damage caused by such a leak.

Dump DRM

This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.

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.

Go after your own

Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries.  Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free.  For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard.  The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company.  EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company.

Apple is not the only company going through this.  As we have seen, Microsoft has had the same problems with the Zune and high definition players on Vista.  Maybe this letter will help bring some mass market attention to this DRM issue and someone with some power will start standing up to big media, and its pocket politicians.

Thoughts on Music by Steve Jobs

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2007 7:10 AM Rants | Back to top

Comments on this post: Steve Jobs on DRM

# re: Steve Jobs on DRM
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Way to many...soon I will have to launch a site for you and D'arcy.
Left by Jeff Julian on Feb 07, 2007 7:42 AM

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