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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
It's my father's voice dreaming of / Sailors sailing off in the morning
— Wilco, Poor Places
February 7, 2007
Thoughts on Digital Rights Management

Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Music have stirred up quite a bit of controversy.

Essentially, Steve is saying “let us sell unprotected music. it’s the right thing to do.”

There’s a major problem with “the music industry’s response.”

According to the Globe and Mail, the RIAA has suggested that Apple:

should open up its anti-piracy technology to its rivals instead of urging major record labels to strip copying restrictions from music sold online.

Now, let’s not forget that this is the same RIAA that was suing music fans not so long ago for using Napster and Limewire.

Jobs points out in his post:

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

The emphasis was added by me.

When the music industry invented digital music by creating the Compact Disc, the concept of encryption of data was not new. Despite this, the industry chose not to use any encryption. Contrast this with the encrypted content of DVDs — it’s been broken, and the movie industry could argue that the breaking of that encryption is illegal. If this is, in fact, true than by extension, sharing movies ripped from DVDs is illegal.

I’m not suggesting that’s a valid or good argument, I’m just saying that they put the effort into protecting their copyright so they could claim this.

Jobs also makes a number of points about opening up Apple’s DRM system — FairPlay. Keeping in mind that FairPlay has already been broken (a number of tools exist to strip the FairPlay restrictions from your purchased music) it stands to reason that the wider FairPlay is used the more likely that it will be consistently broken.

That’s the thrust of Jobs’ argument, and it’s a good way. Any technology that’s used to protect music it will eventually fall.

The industry has a choice of its own — abolish the Compact Disc and develop a new format, requiring customers to buy new players and (possibly) new copies of old albums. Yet another copy of Rush’s 2112 to be bought.

I’m siding with Steve Jobs on this one — the music industry is a racket trying to retain a monopoly. Monopolies rarely benefit consumers, and usually don’t end well in the long term for the monopolists.

Posted by skooter at 11:06 PM This entry is filed under Music, Technology.
This entry is tagged: Apple, iPod, Steve Jobs

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