Steve Jobs Appeals for the End of DRM
In a letter posted on the Apple Web site on Tuesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs examines the circumstances surrounding his company’s adoption of Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection for the songs sold in its iTunes online store. He comes to the conclusion that a DRM-free future is the most viable and lucrative option not only for Apple, but for the record companies he asserts are responsible for Apple’s adoption of DRM in the first place.
The letter contends that during the initial launch of iTunes, record companies were hesitant to license their music for online sale and agreed to do so only under the condition that the music be copyright protected using DRM. Jobs describes the results of that agreement as untenable in the long run, with a “cat-and-mouse game” with hackers constantly challenging new DRMs on the one hand and consumer frustration on the other. The letter calculates that only 3 percent of the music on any given iPod is purchased from iTunes, and that 90 percent of the music sold by record companies is on CDs, which are already DRM-free.
In the letter, which comes in the wake of suits leveled against Apple regarding its DRM, Jobs puts the onus on Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI, also known as the “Big Four,” claiming, “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.”
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