Steve Jobs has written an open letter
to the music industry urging them to look differently at DRM. In it, Jobs explains how DRM doesn't work and the tug-of-war Apple and other companies play with DRM-hackers hinders consumer interest rather than protect the music.
Jobs then provides the options at hand:
- Continue down the current path where iTunes content only plays on the iPod and Microsoft's Music Store content on the Zune. The current DRM hurts consumers as it limits their ability to move music, such as that purchased via iTunes, between devices produced by other manufacturers. Jobs also provides some interesting statistics, such as only 3% of the content on the average iPod is DRM protected.
- The second option would include Apple licensing their DRM-protection to other companies to ensure interoperability between players. The issue is that as more people have the DRM-protection in their hands, the chances for leaks increase. If the DRM-protection is then compromised, Apple would need to work with the full list of vendors to develop a fix and it would be nearly impossible for the updates to be done quickly and in concert. Lastly, Apple would no longer be able to guarantee protection of the music it licenses to the record labels.
- The last alternative that Jobs suggests is to abolish DRM altogether. Jobs writes, "Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because 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. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player."
Lastly, Jobs makes a little jab at Europe as many countries in the EU have been the ones crying out for Apple to share it's DRM-protection. "Perhaps those [European countries] 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. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly."